Rev. Lawson joins the Conference staff having previously served in a dual call as Associate Pastor at Immanuel Congregational Church and Communications Associate at the Center for Leadership and Justice (CLJ), both in Hartford, CT.
At Immanuel, Lawson worked with the senior minister to lead the congregation on a journey of becoming an intentionally antiracist congregation. Through this vital work, over 40 church leaders completed intensive antiracism training, launched an antiracism task force, and a core group of leaders participated in a six-month Planting Racial Justice Activation Team training.
Lawson says he is deeply committed to forming covenanted partnerships. He created a young adults ministry at Immanuel that frequently fellowshipped with the young adults at neighboring Center Church and he was instrumental in deepening Immanuel’s relationship with neighboring Faith Congregational Church. Immanuel and Faith worshipped together via a weekly joint virtual Facebook Premiere Sunday service during the pandemic quarantine.
“My thought was, why try to figure this out alone, when we can figure it out together with God’s help?” Lawson said.
At CLJ, Lawson said his main role was to tell the story.
“It is one thing to pontificate about the significance of justice in a book study over coffee and snacks, but it’s another to BE with families living in hazardous conditions because the property owner is a career slumlord," he said. "My heart broke witnessing mothers on the verge of breakdown because mice were biting and keeping their children up at night. However, organizing with these mothers – backed by over 40 congregations from the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance (GHIAA) – to secure safer, sanitary housing for their families and kick three notorious slumlords out of Hartford brought faith to life for me!”
"In the world of organizing, power equals organized money and organized people. The problems that we face are huge and take power, not just good hearts and well intentions, to solve," he said.
"I’m excited and feel called to this position at this time to explore how together – in covenanted partnerships with one another and the power of the Holy Spirit – we do ministry that make space for justice to roll on like a river, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. I am excited to journey with our congregations as God works miracles through us in unimaginably bold new ways," he said.
The Rev. Dr. Audrey Price, Executive Minister for Strategic Operations, said Rev. Lawson's "deep commitment to racial justice along with his impactful ministry at Immanuel Congregational Church is a welcomed addition to our Area Conference Minister team."
"Rev. Lawson also brings experience in community organizing from his work at CLJ. This experience and connection to the community are beneficial components that round out and complete our fine ACM Team," she said.
ACM Team Leader the Rev. Dr. Michael Ciba echoed that excitement.
“Rev. Isaac Lawson brings many gifts to his new position, including a love for the local church, a commitment to justice, a pastor’s heart, and a love for the United Church of Christ," Ciba said. "He understands that, to be effective in ministry, the church must be engaged with its community and with the world. His background in pastoral ministry, community organizing, and leadership will be an asset to the entire Southern New England Conference. We are delighted to welcome him as our newest Area Conference Ministry and look forward to much fruitful ministry.”
The South Central region includes the churches and clergy in the Central Connecticut, Farmington Valley, Hartford, Hartford East, Middlesex, New London and Tolland Associations. The Rev. Rhonda Myers has been serving there as Bridge ACM since the Rev. Tamara Moreland moved to local church ministry in the spring.
Lawson currently serves on the Hartford Association’s Committee on Ministry. He has a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, NYC, and a Master of Sacred Theology from Yale Divinity School.
Prior to moving to Hartford, Lawson served as a minister of pastoral care at a local UCC congregation in Washington, DC, while simultaneously providing logistical and operational support for the South Asia Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank. Lawson hopes to bring lessons learned from years of being bi-vocational to his work with the Conference.
Tiffany Vail is the Director of Media & Communications for the Southern New England Conference.