Please join the Princeton Clergy Association's annual Multifaith Service to Commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday, January 20, 2020 - 7:00 PM at Nassau Presbyterian Church (61 Nassau St, Princeton, NJ 08542). Half of the free will offering received will go toward the work of the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA).
The speaker for the service will be the Rev. Dr. Deborah Blanks, pastor of the Mount Pisgah AME Church. See full bio below.
Multifaith Service to Commemorate and Honor the Legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
Monday, January 20, 2020
Nassau Presbyterian Church
61 Nassau St.
Diverse faith leaders from a wide range of traditions will co-lead the multifaith worship service.
People are encouraged to bring children and grandchildren. Half of the free will offering goes to support the work of CFPA, the other half supports the United Negro College Fund. The Service will include great music from a range of faith traditions. Please come to help celebrate and re-affirm Dr. King's vision of peace with justice for all God's children!
The Reverend Dr. Deborah K. Blanks is an itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and recently appointed to serve as pastor of the historic Mount Pisgah AME Church. Prior to coming to Mount Pisgah, she serve as pastor of Allen AME Church, White Plains, New York. She was spiritually nurtured in the Christian faith at Saint James AME Church in Newark, NJ. At the age of 19, she accepted her call to ministry and pursued theological education immediately after graduating from college. Her professional journey of ministry began as an active duty United States Navy chaplain in which she was stationed at the following commands: Navy Chaplains’ School, Newport, Rhode Island; Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia; Recruit Training Command, Orlando, Florida, and the United States Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, NC. After serving in the Navy for 10 years, 3 months and 28 days, she was honorably discharged and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Re-entering the civilian world opened many doors of opportunity; thus, she successfully competed for an assistant university chaplain post at Brown University, Providence Rhode Island and served there with distinction. Rev. Dr. Deborah's continuing call to fulfill her ministry in the academy led her to pursue and be appointed the first African-American female assistant dean of religious life and the chapel at Princeton University. During her tenure at Princeton she was promoted to associate dean of religious life and the chapel. After many years of service, she transitioned from Princeton University into the next new future – pastoring Allen AME Church. The call upon her life has always been to make her calling and election sure and she continues to do that through preaching, teaching, leading, and seeking to be God's ambassador in the church and the world.
Dr. Blanks earned a B.A. degree in political science from Douglass College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, and the M. Div. degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta Georgia. During her Navy years, she was among a select group of Navy chaplains chosen to pursue postgraduate study, and earned the Th. M. degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. In 2014, she was awarded the Doctor of Ministry degree from Drew University, Madison, New Jersey with a concentration in Worship, Spirituality and Preaching.
She has been a recipient of military honors and civilian awards for outstanding service. Her military decorations and civilian awards include the following: Navy Commendation Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Meritorious Unit Citation; James H. Clark Memorial Preaching Award; Bishop Henry McNeil Turner Award; Wayman-Day Honor Award; Women’s History Week Award; and Outstanding Young Women of America Award. She was inducted into the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Blanks was featured in Jet and Ebony magazines during her naval career. Additionally, she was spotlighted in a 2005 Ebony magazine as one among eight African American chaplains serving as religious leaders and pastors at Ivy League institutions. In 2014, Rev. Dr. Blanks was appointed by Governor Chris Christy to serve as a commissioner of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission for the State of New Jersey.
A respected clergy professional in university chaplaincy, Dr. Blanks was the first African American female elected president of the Association for College and University Religious Affairs (ACURA), which is an over half century old national ecumenical and interfaith collegium of deans of religious life, chaplains, and directors and coordinators of religious affairs representing over forty institutions of higher education. During her tenure, the organization established and adopted national Principles for Religious Life in Higher Education utilized by colleges and universities around the country.
Dr. Blanks served as the dean of the New Jersey Annual Conference AME Church Ministerial Institute from 2009-2015, the gateway for preparing persons pursuing the itinerant and local ordained ministry and evangelists for service in the AME Church. Recently, she completed a clinical pastoral education residency program at Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, New York, which allows her to serve as a clinically trained chaplain. Dr. Deborah is a proud member of the illustrious sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
The verse from Scripture guiding her ministry is “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." II Corinthians 4:7 (KJV)