Congratulatory Announcements 

October 2023


*Dr. Thema Bryant Davis selected as one of the Black Activists Who Changed The Mental Health Industry

Dr. Thema Bryant, a leading psychologist and activist, is the 2023 president of the American Psychological Association,, the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology with more than 120,000 members. Under her coordinator role at Princeton University, she created the historic SHARE program, an initiative that brought awareness to sexual assault and harassment through intervention and prevention resources. 

She is currently a tenured professor of psychology in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University, where she directs the Culture and Trauma Research Laboratory. Her clinical and research interests center on interpersonal trauma and the societal trauma of oppression. She is a past president of the Society for the Psychology of Women and a past APA representative to the United Nations. Dr. Thema also served on the APA Committee on International Relations in Psychology and the Committee on Women in Psychology.

Dr. Thema has raised public awareness regarding mental health by extending the reach of psychology beyond the academy and private therapy office through community programming and media engagement, including but not limited to Headline News, National Public Radio, and CNN.

Dr. Thema was honored with a media award in 2016 for her work on the film Psychology of Human Trafficking. The emotional project dove deep into the psychology and understanding of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. 

She was also a recipient of the 2018 Donald Fridley Memorial Award for her excellence in trauma mentoring.

She is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She directs the mental health ministry at First AME Church in South Los Angeles. Dr. Thema also utilizes sacred dance and spoken word in therapy, community forums, and faith communities. She is the daughter of Bishop John R. Bryant and Supervisor Rev. Dr. Cecelia Bryant.


Congratulatory responses can be sent to:



*Congratulations to Judicial Council Member Augustine, on Political Activism Award

L to R NC state Sen. Natalie Murdock, Dr. Jay Augustine, and NC state Rep. Zack Hawkins.


The Reverend Dr. Jonathan C. Augustine, senior pastor of St. Joseph AME Churchin Durham, NC, and a clergy member of the denomination's Judicial Council, received the Excellence in Public Service Award, from North Carolina state Senator Natalie Murdock and state Representative Zack Hawkins. The award was presented on October 15, 2023 during St. Joseph's "Sneaker Sunday," as congregants were encouraged to wear sneakers to church. St. Joseph welcomed a record number of young people and young adults to worship.
Dr. Augustine serves as a consulting faculty member at Duke Divinity School, where he teaches courses through the Office of Black Church Studies, and as chaplain for the Duke Football Team. He has spearheaded numerous "Souls to the Polls" activities, where St. Joseph has welcomed the community-at-large to the church, before caravaning to neighboring North Carolina Central University to vote. The church has also provided a community hotline for people to call for rides to the polls, utilizing the church's multiple vans and bus service. For the last year, he is also working collaboratively with the Duke Center for Reconciliation in raising awareness about antisemitism and how it, and Christian nationalism, must be addressed by faith leaders. Over the last two years, Dr. Augustine also wrote two books: When Prophets Preach: Leadership and the Politics of the Pulpit (Fortress Press, 2023) and Called to Reconciliation: How the Church Can Model Justice, Diversity and Inclusion (Baker Academic, 2022). In addition to having been featured this year on C-SPAN BookTV, he also preached and presented at the Festival of Homiletics.  
A proud graduate of Howard University, Dr. Augustine received an active duty commission to serve as an infantry officer in the US Army before earning his law degree at Tulane University. After accepting the call to ministry, he graduated from United Theological Seminary and completed a fellowship at Princeton Theological Seminary, before earning his doctorate from Duke University. He is happily married to St. Joseph's first lady, Michelle Burks Augustine, and is the father of two college students. He serves as the general chaplain of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (The Boule).  

Congratulatory notes may be sent to


*Dr. Herman O. Kelly, Jr. selected to be featured in the Boston University Alumni magazine regarding life career

"The Swimming’s Spiritual Warrior"



Dr. Herman O. Kelly, Jr. former Pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana has been selected to be featured in the Boston University Alumni (class of 83) magazine “The Bostonia” - regarding life career activities as an Alum, as it relates to his swimming career as a Master Swimmer after age 50 and State Champion and National Olympic participant.

You can talk about skill, physical ability and focus as key elements needed to be a successful athlete at any age. One also needs the intangible boost and motivation that comes from having a passion for your sport to see it through.

His passion for swimming goes much deeper than the confines of a pool or his own goals and has impacted many more lives than his own.

Dr. Herman O. Kelly Jr. earned his doctoral degree in ministry at Memphis Theological Seminary, and now serves at Louisiana State University. Dr. Kelly teaches in both the School of Education and the African and African American Studies Program, for which he is the co-chair of the finance committee. His courses include the history of the civil rights movement and Black rhetorical traditions. He has most recently published Moments of Meditation Celebrating the Bicentennial of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Times Like These, and Black Rhetorical Traditions in the Civil Rights Movement: Voices of Struggle and Strength. Dr. Kelly is a past recipient of the NAACP Man of the Year Award, and recipient of the Kumba Community Member/Organization Award, a part of the 2017-18 LSU black History month held by the LSU Cultural Center recognizing individuals that have made an impact and meaningful contribution to their local communities.

Dr. Kelly grew up at a time when segregation barriers still existed and African Americans had little to no choices for a safe place to swim.  His parents made it a point to get lessons for their children, but neither they or the youngster had any idea how this would shape his growth and later provide a path to better aging.

Dr. Kelly explains that his name translates as “African Warrior” and his passion for competition is fierce, but a bigger passion led him to the clergy to be a spiritual warrior serving others.

He became a lifeguard and also swam with his high school team. He was delighted to obtain a partial scholarship to Morehouse College in Atlanta, which had the most dominant swim team among historically black colleges at the time. He also shares that he first felt the call from God during this time but fought it off. While earning his master’s degree in education and aquatics at Springfield College, he made the decision to become a preacher and went on to Boston University for a second master’s degree in divinity.

He began his pastoral ministry in Massachusetts, and then moved to Louisiana to lead the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge. He concurrently became an African American religion instructor at Louisiana State University. 22 years later, he is now an adjunct professor teaching African American Studies, but the campus and the greater community know Dr. Kelly better as a swimmer on a mission.

Part of that mission is personal, because he says his workload caused him to fall off from swimming, and he realized in 2014 he had to get back to the pool to regain his health and fitness. He discovered Senior Games and has been training and competing ever since.

Dr. Kelly reveals his greater mission has been to teach African American youth to swim, a passion that is rooted in his memory of witnessing a friend drown as a teenager. His church operates the only swimming ministry in the state that teaches dozens of children annually. Also, his wife’s battle with breast cancer has created a second passion to raise money for cancer survivors.

Overcoming life’s challenges and obstacles is key to pursuing a Personal Best lifestyle. Herman Kelly’s faith, family, and his parent’s wisdom have given him the “weapons” to forge his path as a spiritual warrior.

 Congratulatory expressions can be emailed to:


On behalf of Social Action Commission Chair, Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield, and Dr. Jacquelyn DuPont-Walker, Director/ Consultant  Social Action Commission, we extend congratulations as you praise God for the Joy of these significant milestones. 

Ora L. Easley,

International Administrator