Bishop Nathaniel Jarrett

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Chairperson, Commission for Family Life



Bishop Nathaniel Jarrett, Jr. is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, born on May 8, 1937.  His family relocated to Detroit, Michigan when he was eight years old.  He attended public school in Detroit.  He is married to Estella Rudisel Jarrett, and they are blessed with three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Bishop Jarrett received his B.S. Degree and Master of Education Degree from Wayne State University.  He received a Master of Divinity Degree from Yale Divinity School, and the Doctor of Ministry Degree from Chicago Theological Seminary.  At Wayne State he received a football scholarship, was a high and low hurdler on the track team and played basketball .

Prior to his call to ordained ministry, Bishop Jarrett was a history teacher in the public schools of Detroit.  He later served as an adjunct instructor at Chicago Theological Seminary, teaching “Preaching and the Black Experience.”  He has lectured and or preached at Livingstone College, Hood Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School, Duke Divinity School, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, the McCormick Theological Seminary, and the Chicago Theological Seminary.  Also, he has preached and lectured  in Guatemala, South Africa, South America, the Caribbean and in many cities across the United States.  Currently the Bishop serves as the Chairperson of the Commission on Spiritual Formation of the Board of Christian Education as well as writer for the Young People-Adult Quarterly.

His call to the ordained ministry came in 1965 under the tutelage of Dr. William Carlton Ardrey at St. Paul AMEZ Church, Detroit, Michigan.  He pastored African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches in Torrington and Ansonia, Connecticut, Detroit, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois. He served the Martin Temple congregation in Chicago for 26 years. Bishop Jarrett was elected the 90th bishop in the line of succession of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1996.  Other church related positions held include:

  • Vice Chairman of the Judicial Council, AME Zion Church
  • Director of Youth Ministry for 15 years in the AMEZ Church
  • Staff Assistant, Department of Christian Education, AMEZ Church
  • Delegate, World Methodist Council, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Trustee, International Society of Christian Endeavor
  • Member, Pan Methodist Commission
  • Member, Consultation of Methodist Bishops
  • Chair, Summit Commission
  • Chairman, Board of Christian Education
  • Chairman, Board of Church Extension and Home Missions
  • Chairman, Board of Health and Social Concerns
  • Chairman, Board of Commission on Discipline Codification
  • Chairman, Board on Judiciary

Ecumenical and interfaith activities include: 1st black president of the Church Federation of Greater Chicago, and Co-Chairman of the Black – Jewish Dialogue, former member of Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, and the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches.

Always a community activist, Bishop Jarrett has been a member and faithful supporter of the NAACP, Operation Push, Citizen Committee on the Juvenile Court, Greater Grand Crossing Organizing Committee (GGCOC), One Church – One School, Clergy for the Election of Harold Washington, African American Leadership Project (AALP), Chicago Human Relations Commission, Church and Community Project (Partnership with McCormick Theological Seminary), Northend  Community Action (NECA), founding member of the Association of Black Seminarians, and the National Committee of Black Churchmen (NCBC).

In addition, Bishop Jarrett served on the Board of Trustees of Livingstone College and the Hood Theological  Seminary, Salisbury, North Carolina.  He served as a member of the Chicago Board of Education and he was appointed to serve on the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund and was elected secretary.  He also served as the Acting Director of Admissions at Yale Divinity School.

Awards received include: Protestant Fellow-The Rockefeller Foundation Fund for Theological Education, Honorary Doctor of Divinity, Chicago Theological Seminary, Alpha Kappa Alpha Man of the Year, the Richard Allen Excellence in Ministry Award and The International Ministers and Lay Association Episcopal Leadership Award.

Bishop Jarrett is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

He was retired as a presiding bishop in 2008.