Women of Black History Month: Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale

“Some people are just negative,” says Hale. “They’ll try to shut your dreams down. I’ve always believed that I, along with other people, could change the world for Christ.”

Dr. Hale is an inspirational person to me, in the scheme of my own life.  She was one of the  pioneering women who continued to integrate my undergraduate college of Hollins University; she is a fellow sorority sister in Alpha Kappa Alpha, and she has embraced her political beliefs.  Dr. Hale stumped for President Obama during his first run in 2008, was invited to give the Invocation on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in 2008, and was invited to read the scripture at the National Prayer Service for the Inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009 (see video above).   I remember meeting her for the first time while presenting as the SGA Vice President to the Alumnae Board which she was a member of at the time.  She knew my parents growing up, and took some time to talk to me and encourage me to continue moving forward.  It was inspirational to see such an incredible Hollins women, who happened to look like me.  Don’t get me wrong — my undergraduate institution is filled with women who are going places (as our tag line says); but not very many of them look like I do.  So it was an honor to get to see that women who look like me also get to go places.

Dr. Hale leads her own church, The Ray, and has done so against incredible odds.  Duke University’s Divinity Magazine cited a 2006-07 survey of 1,506 U.S. congregations in an article they penned about Dr. Hale.  “Hale’s The Ray is among just 10 percent of American churches led by women. And the larger the church, the less likely a woman is in the pulpit. A 1998 survey of 1,234 U.S. congregations revealed that just 4 percent of churches with more than 350 regularly participating adults had a woman in charge.”  Dr. Hale’s church is now a 5,100-member megachurch in Decatur, Georgia with a $4.5million budget (as of the 2009 printing of the article).   This kind of large church following is an achievement for anyone, but even more of one for an African-American woman.  Gender and race can still be issues within the church organizational structure.

A few stats about Dr. Hale:

Position: Founding and Senior Pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga


  • B.A., Music, 1975, Hollins College, Hollins, Va.;
  • M.Div., 1979, Duke Divinity School;
  • D.Min., 1991, United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio

Born: Roanoke, Va., Oct. 27, 1952

Family: The oldest daughter of Harrison and Janice Hale, she has three siblings: Jewell, Benecia, and Benjamin III.

Hobbies: Reading, working out, visiting museums, going to concerts, watching Law & Order reruns on TV.

Please feel free to click on the link below to read the larger article that Divinity published about Dr. Hale.  Or view = her churches website.

Divinity Magazine: Cynthia Hale


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