School of Ministry’s New Hire Sets Up Students for Success

03/25/2022

Dr. Jamila JacksonDr. Jamila Jackson’s passionate pursuit of education and steady spiritual growth over the last decade paved the way for her to serve as a guide to other students pursuing graduate theological education.

As director of theological education partnerships, Jackson leads Lift Every Voice, a partnership between Palm Beach Atlantic and Florida Memorial University, the only historically-Black university in South Florida. Both universities came together at the end of February to celebrate the new partnership. Jackson recruits students seeking theological education, walks students through the application and admission process, guides them through registering for classes and helps them navigate any unique circumstances they may have.

Once the students get settled in the program, she creates opportunities for building community, hosts Zooms to introduce students to University resources, and holds one-on-one advising sessions. Jackson will even drop in on classes and encourage students to make it to the finish line.

“I want to continue on the journey with them, and ultimately celebrate with them when they graduate,” she said. “I plan on having celebrations as our cohorts finish the program.”

Contact Dr. Jamila Jackson or Scott Rowan to learn more or connect with an admissions counselor.

Dr. Jamila Jackson, her sisters and her mother celebrate her commencement. Jackson's mother is a strong proponent of education.Jackson’s dedication comes from her mother, a chief clinical officer of a mental health clinic, who pursued degrees in psychology and passionately encouraged her daughters and their friends to further their education. Jackson earned her bachelor’s degree in English education from Florida International University and graduated from St. Thomas University with her master’s degree in pastoral ministry and her Ph.D. in practical theology. Her three sisters became a lawyer, accountant, and medical doctor. “That message of education runs through our veins,” Jackson said. 

“Dr. Jackson brings an unparalleled enthusiasm to this new role and has a contagious passion for equipping ministers for faithful service in God’s church,” said Dr. Justin Hardin, associate dean for graduate programs.

Jackson is joined by Antoinette Brazzle, associate director of theological education partnerships.

Going Farther Together

The Lift Every Voice partnership, made possible by a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., expands theological educational opportunities in South Florida. It gives students from Florida Memorial University the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Divinity degree in less time and at a lower cost than it typically takes. Pastors, ministers and members of Black churches also can get an M.Div. through PBA at FMU at an affordable price.

PBA offers a Black church concentration, which includes electives on subjects such as Black church history and social justice — courses that every student should take, Jackson said.

School of Ministry Dean Dr. Jonathan Grenz speaks at the Lift Every Voice celebration at PBA in February.Now Jackson’s role is to get the word out. With an office on FMU’s campus in Miami Gardens, she gets the best of both worlds at two, Christ-first universities.

“PBA is certainly Christ-centered. You can see that in the leadership of President Schwinn,” Jackson said. “Her passion is evident in her leadership.” School of Ministry Dean Dr. Jonathan Grenz’s heart for God and His mission are evident, Jackson said. 

At FMU, “there’s also noteworthy leadership and such a rich cultural background” that empowers people and values the voices of all individuals. The university really “lifts every voice,” she said. Lift Every Voice and Sing  is the the Black national anthem, which was penned by former FMU music teacher John Rosamond Johnson and his brother, James Weldon Johnson.

PBA and FMU “show how powerful you are when you are partnering and bringing the gifts together not for any individual recognition but for a unified mission,” Jackson said, quoting the African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” She hopes the partnership will be an example to other universities.

Building Bridges

She spent much of young adulthood growing in her faith and commitment to God, asking Him what He wanted to do with her life, she said. Her Bahamian mother and Pakistani father gave her a broad worldview and encouraged her passion for ministry. “My greatest passion was for the people of God to experience God in the greatest way and for transformation to happen. I know that only happens in a close connection with God,” Jackson said.

Initially, her search led her to teach English at North Miami Senior High School and, eventually, to a leadership role training other teachers. She pursued her graduate degrees at St. Thomas University while she was teaching at the high school, trusting God to direct her steps but not knowing if He would lead her to a church, hospital or university.

Antoinette Brazzle, associate director of theological education partnerships, and Dr. Jamila Jackson, director of theological education partnerships, speak during the Lift Every Voice celebration in February.“For me, I knew that teaching would be a bridge, and I knew that eventually, God was going to open the door for me to do more direct ministry,” Jackson. “I was so delighted that what God decided for me was to put me right in the university setting and working with pastors specifically. It is amazing to see my passion for ministry and education come together.”

Jackson’s husband, Alphonso Jackson Jr., is the former senior pastor of the Greater New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church and the current executive pastor of New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. The couple has three children: 2-year-old Allyson, 5-month-old Alphonso III and 5-year-old Angelina, who is named after Jackson’s great-grandmother, a missionary from the Bahamas.

Previously, Jackson wrote two books, Worth the Wait  and Blooming Believer, and designed a weekly planner. She runs a ministry, Graceful Transformations, which hosts small groups, weekly devotion sessions and annual conferences with the overarching purpose of inviting people to consistently spend time building their relationships with God. The ministry “caters to the busy woman because I am also a busy woman,” Jackson said.

In her current role as director of theological education partnerships, she is "blessed to bring her passion for Christ, education, career experiences and organizational skills together to further the mission of God,” she said. “I’m really glad that I get to serve pastors and serve the church in a way that highlights the importance of education and the academy in our ministry work."

Photo 1: Dr. Jamila Jackson is director of theological education partnerships.

Photo 2: Dr. Jamila Jackson, her sisters and her mother celebrate her commencement. Jackson's mother is a strong proponent of education.

Photo 3: School of Ministry Dean Dr. Jonathan Grenz speaks at the Lift Every Voice celebration at PBA in February.

Photo 4: Antoinette Brazzle, associate director of theological education partnerships, and Dr. Jamila Jackson, director of theological education partnerships, speak during the Lift Every Voice celebration in February.