Presiding Prelate-Sixth Episcopal District
Bishop Reginald Thomas Jackson is the presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church which encompasses over 500 churches in the state of Georgia. He was elected and consecrated the 132nd bishop of the A.M.E. Church in 2012 at the 49th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference held in Nashville, TN and was appointed to the Twentieth Episcopal District (Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Uganda) and as the Ecumenical and Urban Affairs Officer. He has served as the chairman of the Social Action Commission of the A.M.E. Church and is the current chairman of the Commission on Colleges, Universities and Seminaries.
A native of Dover, Delaware, he was born on April 26, 1954. After graduating from the Dover Public Schools, he enrolled and in 1976 graduated from Delaware State University in Dover, with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. In 1972 Bishop Jackson licensed to preach at MT. Zion AME Church, Dover under the pastorate of The Rev. Rudolph W. Coleman. Ordained an Itinerant Deacon in 1975 by Bishop Earnest Lawrence Hickman, he was assigned as the supply pastor of Graham AME Church, Greenwood, Delaware where he served for one year, before leaving to go to Atlanta, Georgia to attend Turner Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), Atlanta, Georgia. He was ordained an Itinerant Elder by Bishop Richard Allen Hildebrand in 1977. In 1978 while still in seminary, and assigned to serve as supply pastor, at St. John AME Church, Coleman St., Atlanta.
Upon graduating in 1979, he was appointed by Bishop Hildebrand to St. John AME Church, Jersey City, NJ where he served for two years. He was then appointed in 1981 by Bishop Hildebrand to St. Matthew AME Church, Orange, NJ. This was the beginning of a pastorate that would last 31 years. During his ministry at St. Matthew the congregation grew from about 75 to more than 2800 Disciples of Christ, engaged in ministry, mission and outreach. Included in this number were more than 300 children and youth, to whom he placed special emphasis and time.
St. Matthew accepted the motto as “the servant church of the Oranges” and instituted more than 30 ministries to meet the spiritual, emotional, educational, physical and financial needs of both church and community. The Neighborhood and Individual Development Association (NIDA), the church’s community development corporation was also founded. In addition a new church edifice was built in 1985 and because of continuous growth a second edifice was built in 2002. The doors of St. Matthew are open seven days a week and the church is a hub of activity for church and community. The church’s budget increased from $50,000 a year in 1981 to $2,000,000.00 annually.
Shortly after arriving in Orange, Pastor Jackson became involved in the life of the city, county and state, speaking out on issues and informing and organizing ministers and community to act in promoting God’s kingdom on earth and in their best interest. In addition to pastoring St. Matthew Church, Pastor Jackson served as the Executive Director of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey (BMC), representing more than 600 Black churches in New Jersey from 1994-2012. He has been outspoken on every major issue in New Jersey, pressuring the state Supreme Court to order New Jersey to increase spending on poor school districts in the state, adequate funding for charity care, legislation to end predatory lending, ending the death penalty in New Jersey, needle exchange and most notably, legislation to end and make racial profiling a crime, the only state in the nation to pass such a law.
During Bishop Jackson's ministry at St. Matthew the congregation grew from about 75 to more than 2800 Disciples of Christ, engaged in ministry, mission and outreach.
Pastor Jackson received four pens from three governors used to sign legislation he helped to pass through the General Assembly. He served for sixteen years on the Orange Public School System Board of Education (12 as president), and is currently in his 13th year as a member of the Board of Trustees of Essex County College (10 years as president) as well as the Board of Directors of the Barnabas Health Care System, the largest healthcare system in the State of New Jersey. Pastor Jackson was named the Man of the Year in 2000 by New Jersey Monthly Magazine, recipient of the William Ashby Award by the United Way, Martin Luther king Award by the Newark North Ward Center as well as hundreds of other awards. A member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and a Life Member of the NAACP, he has repeatedly been named among the “Twenty Five Most Influential People in New Jersey.” He has received honorary doctorates from Wilberforce University and Payne Theological Seminary.
He is married to Christy Davis Jackson, Esquire and the father of Regina Victoria Jackson, graduate of Florida A & M University and Seth Joshua Jackson.