The Reverend Lois A. Poag-Ray, Ph.D., D.D., M. Div.

pastorThe Rev. Dr. Lois Ann Poag-Ray, Pastor of historic Wayman Good Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church in Severna Park, MD; and former Pastor of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC (2008 to April 2011), is the first woman appointed to the pastorate of a major church in the Washington Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Also a former Pastor of Pilgrim A.M.E. Church, DC (1993 to April 2008), Dr. Poag-Ray served for ten years as Executive Director of the Pilgrim A.M.E. Job Connection Program, a welfare-to-work initiative funded through a multi-million dollar contract with the District of Columbia. Also formerly a Professor of Management at the University of the District of Columbia, Dr. Poag-Ray also held adjunct graduate faculty status at Central Michigan University.

A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. Poag-Ray holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech and Drama from Tennessee State University; and a Master of Science degree in Audiology and Speech Pathology from Vanderbilt University. After several years teaching experience at the college level, Dr. Poag-Ray moved to Washington, DC where she earned the Ph.D. degree in Communication Arts (Area of Specialization: Organizational Communication) from Howard University. After answering the “call to preach” in 1981, she later earned the Master of Divinity degree from the Howard University School of Divinity.

Prior to moving to the District in 1979, Dr. Poag-Ray worked on the Pediatrics Staff at Hubbard Hospital- Meharry Medical College in Nashville. Embarking on her career in academe, she taught at Kennedy King College of the City Colleges of Chicago; Clark College, Atlanta, GA; the Community College of Philadelphia; and the University of Maryland Extension Program, U.S. Naval Air Station, Bermuda. Additionally, Dr. Poag-Ray served as Assistant Professor of Business Communications at Howard University’s School of Business and Public Management.

The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Dr. Poag-Ray holds an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Sims School of Religion, Monrovia College, Liberia, West Africa. She is the author of several publications, including a book, Managing Conflict in Church Settings, published in 1995; an unpublished paper, “The Role of The Exhorter in the A.M.E. Church, 2011; and is featured in the 2004 Edition of Those Preaching Women. Dr. Poag-Ray has the distinction of being a church planter and church builder, having served as founding pastor of First A.M.E. Church in Gaithersburg, MD (1984 to April 1993), where within that church’s first five years, she led the congregation in the purchasing of property and the building and dedicating of a church facility. After having been used by God to build a church community numbering more than 450, she was appointed to the pastorate of Pilgrim A.M.E. Church in the District.

Dr. Poag-Ray served the Connectional A.M.E. Church as President of A.M.E. Women in Ministry (2004-2008), and as Connectional First Vice-President (2000-2004) . She is the first woman to be appointed Dean of the Washington Conference Board of Examiners, Second Episcopal District, A.M.E. Church; and is a former President of the A.M.E. Ministerial Alliance of Washington, D.C. and Vicinity. She was a charter member of the Board of Visitors of the Howard University School of Divinity. Dr. Poag-Ray has distinguished herself as an innovative administrator, a compassionate leader, an inspiring teacher, a dynamic preacher, and a dedicated pastor who truly cares for God’s people. She is an unusually gifted woman of God who embraces as her mission in life the use of her God-given talents to win souls for Christ and to build God’s kingdom here on earth.

Married to Frederick Chester Ray, she and her husband are parents of Dr. Carol Ray and Thomas D. P. Ray. Rev. Dr. Poag-Ray describes herself as a “…woman of God who stands firmly on Christ the solid Rock.” She continues to praise God for the blessing of having allowed her to be a part of “miracle stories”, and for continuing to use her to make a difference in the lives of people in her church and her community. Her foundational and guiding thought is that through Christ, all things are possible if you only believe; her favorite refrain is, “To God be the Glory!

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Wayman Good Hope AME Church

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