Rev. Shonda Gladden Bio

A multitasking mommy, passionate professor and pastor, witty Womanist writer, Spirit filled speaker and singer, Rev. Shonda Nicole Gladden is becoming a woman living life on her own terms. Anchored by faith, prepared by the academy, and being made whole each and every day, she writes, speaks, lives and loves her truth unapologetically and invites others to do the same. She is the visionary founder and curator of Good to the SOUL, an emerging new media social enterprise specializing in mitigating marginalization and mediocrity. Rev. Gladden is the pastor of Allen Temple AME Church in Marion, IN, where she works with a team of lay, civic, and government leaders to actively work to discern and realize God's plan for the Greater Marion community.

A proud Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, she hails from the Washington Annual Conference of the Second Episcopal District where she was ordained by Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson, assisted by both Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie and Bishop McKinley Young. Long before being ordained, Rev. Gladden has preached, presented workshops and facilitated panel discussions throughout the connection as a servant of God. Her ministry witness has been characterized by passionate service with youth, young adults and the young at heart. As a teenager, she joined Reid Temple A.M.E., now one church in three locations in Glenn Dale, Silver Spring, Maryland and Washington, DC where she served God faithfully as a youth worker, choir member and director, kitchen worker, camp counselor, teacher, steward, administrative aide, commissioner and minister. Her most notable ministry assignments at Reid Temple include Commissioner of Youth and Young Adults at the Glenn Dale campus and the founding director of the Reid North Children's Choir. Additionally, Reverend Gladden fulfilled her Washington Annual Conference Board of Examiner's Internship requirement as the Senior Minister to Youth & Young Adults at Brown Memorial AME Church on Capitol Hill under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Dr. Henry Y. White. Prior to accepting the pastoral appointment to Allen Temple, Rev. Gladden faithfully served as Pastor of Bethel AME Church in Lafayette, IN as well as alongside Rev. Dr. Norris E. Jackson, Jr. at St. Paul AME Church in Glencoe, IL as the Assistant to the Pastor and under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Jesse Hawkins as Associate Minister to Young Adults at St. John AME Church in Aurora, IL. She is currently the Connectional Treasurer of the Richard Allen Young Adult Council (RAYAC) and the immediate past Worship Leader of the Fourth Episcopal District Women in Ministry (WIM).

With more than twenty years of combined lay and clergy experience, Rev. Gladden is still young enough to be relevant, but seasoned enough to appreciate the wisdom, history and legacy of the shoulders upon which she now stands. Anointed and called both for the academy and the church, education is of prime importance to Rev. Gladden. She is a scholar practitioner engaged in researching phenomenological and pneumatological nuances of identity and faith formation among Diasporic people through the idioms of popular culture and art. She has earned four degrees: a B.A. in Philosophy from Morgan State University, both an M.Div. and an M.T.S. from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, and an M.T.S. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary on the campus of Northwestern University. She has worked as a teaching assistant in graduate level courses of Church History and Systematic Theology and as an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Morgan State University for four years. She is a member of the American Academy of Religion, where she has presented papers and led roundtable sessions; she is the immediate past co-convenor of the Women's Caucus and served as the AME Research Assistant for The Confirmation Project, a Lilly Endowment, Inc. funded research project housed at Princeton Theological Seminary.

As a classically trained vocalist, she has a passion for creating, performing and experiencing musical art. She has had the privilege of singing at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center, to name a few. She has sung under the baton of the late Dr. Nathan Carter, Moses Hogan, and Robert Shaw, as well as alongside living legends such as Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, and Yolanda Adams. She is currently finalizing a single entitled, "Becoming," to be independently released in 2017. With a heart for effecting and empowering community change, she is a dedicated social entrepreneur and has served as a community advocate, state ambassador, clinician and speaker throughout the world. She has represented the State of Maryland twice on international platforms, first as an EF Educational Ambassador to Europe and again as Miss Black Maryland USA. She has led and participated in short term humanitarian projects throughout the continental United States, Canada, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, South Africa, Kenya and South Korea.

Rev. Gladden is the proud mother of one daughter, Zuri Abigail, who is her most precious gift and responsibility. Her favorite hymn is “Oh For a Faith” and the scripture she lives by is Philippians 3:12-14: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brothers and Sisters, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”