Rev. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook: There's Life Beyond the Stone!
Have you ever considered what Mary Magdalene of the Bible felt when she got to Jesus' tomb and the stone was rolled away? (John 20:1) Could there have been a tinge of excitement beneath the reality that the tomb was empty. Perhaps she even considered the intriguing thought that she would be the first to realize and tell someone else that the daunting stone that once stood between her and Jesus was no longer there.
Reverend Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook is no stranger to being first. In 1983, she was elected as the first Black woman to become a senior pastor in the 200-year history of American Baptist Churches of the
Tremendously respected as a woman of promise, passion, diligence, dedication and determination, Reverend Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, affectionately known as "Dr. Sujay," is a woman of extraordinary accomplishments. Her long lists of other "firsts" include: the first woman appointed Chaplain of the New York City Police Department; the first woman from the
PreachingWoman.com asked Dr. Sujay how these exceptional accomplishments impacted her personally.
"The impact of becoming the 1st female pastor of the
Currently, Dr. Sujay serves as Senior Pastor of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church, also known as Believers' Christian Fellowship, which she founded in 1996 after serving as the pastor at the Mariners' Temple Baptist Church in downtown Manhattan for 13 years growing their membership exponentially. Not only is she an exceptional Pastor to those whom God has given her to shepherd, she's also a leader's leader to many, especially women. When ecclesiastical, corporate, government, or civil leaders need guidance, they come to Dr. Sujay knowing that she will allow the spirit of wisdom, counsel, and might to engulf her words. Dr. Sujay's amazing mentoring and leadership skills have led her to form the Women in Ministry International Summit. The Summit supports and advocates for women church leaders around the world and hosts an annual conference dealing with 21st century "real life" issues for the female leader.
On account of her great love for women in ministry, God has given Dr. Sujay a vision and a voice that will shape generations of women preachers for years to come. She is the Immediate Past President of the Hampton University Ministers' Conference and the first female President in the history of this 12,000 member conference, which represents all the historically African-American denominations. She served as female co-officiant for the Homegoing Service of Civil Rights Leader, Coretta Scott King. In addition, Dr. Sujay recently toured nationally with Bishop T. D. Jakes and the God's Leading Ladies Conference.
PreachingWoman.com asked Dr. Sujay where such great vision for advancing women comes from.
"The vision comes from the need. After receiving so many requests for mentorship, I knew that I could not do it alone. Therefore, I created an advisory team of 12 women from around the country, Wisdom Women Worldwide, to assist me with this need as mentoring involves close personal relationships."
In light of the many accomplishments God has allowed her to achieve, PreachingWoman.com asked Dr. Sujay to please provide a few pertinent principles of success. She provided the following:
- "Put God First"
- "As the Lord elevates you, find a way to bring another woman along."
- "Remember the history: remember those who preceded you, those who are among you, and those who will follow you."
- "Surround yourself with people who will celebrate you."
- "Eliminate the time spent with people do not want to see you successful or celebrate all that God is calling you to."
Revered by many as a powerful preacher, Dr. Sujay was recently described in The New York Times as "Billy Graham and Oprah rolled into one." Featured by Ebony Magazine in 1997 as one of the nation's top 15 women in ministry and by Time Out Magazine as one of New York's top 5 preachers, she is widely known as the "Wall Street Pastor." Dr. Sujay regularly conducts and facilitates corporate ministry to include her lunchtime Wonderful Wall Street Wednesday service; Wonderful Washington Worship, a lunchtime worship service she conducts at our nation's capital; and Harlem Hallelujah tm, a Sunday morning worship experience, of which she is chief visionary, held at the world famous Apollo Theater.
Recently, God blessed Dr. Sujay with the extraordinary opportunity to be invited by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve as guest Chaplain for the day conducting the opening prayer for the United States House of Representatives.
Dr. Sujay is the author of nine successful books. Her latest book Moving Up (Doubleday: 2008) was released in May 2008. Live Like You're Blessed (Doubleday: 2006), was featured on Good Morning America, the Tavis Smiley show, Too Blessed to Be Stressed (Nelson: 1998), A New Dating Attitude - Getting Ready For The Mate God Has For You (Zondervan: 2000) and The Sister's Rules for Ministry (Word: 2003), and more.
Dr. Sujay serves as a faculty member and graduate of Harvard University. She received her Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary (
Over the last 30 years, Dr. Sujay has worn many hats. But she will be the first to tell you that the most important hats of them all are that of wife and mother. She is married to Mr. Ronald Cook. Together, they reside in
PreachingWoman.com asked Dr. Sujay what she believes God is saying to the Women of God in this hour.
"It's our time and our turn. Every situation you've gone through was preparation for your destination. You were created for this moment. Who shall roll the stone away?" There's abundant life beyond every great stone.