Rev. Dr. Raphael Gamaliel Warnock has been the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta since 2005. He is running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia.
Raphael Warnock was born in Savannah, Ga., "the 11th of 12 children born to two Pentecostal-Holiness ministers." Raphael Warnock served as a "youth pastor for six years and assistant pastor for four years" at the Abyssinian Baptist Church of New York.
Raphael Warnock has served, since 2005, as the Senior Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, spiritual home of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The son of two Pentecostal pastors, Dr. Warnock responded to the call to ministry at a very early age, and became, at age 35, the fifth and the youngest person ever called to the senior pastorate of Ebenezer Church, founded in 1886. Yet, before coming to Ebenezer, “America’s Freedom Church,” Dr. Warnock was blessed to study and serve within the pastoral ranks of leading congregations also known for their deep spiritual roots and strong public witness. He began as an intern at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church of Birmingham, Alabama, where he was ordained by the Rev. Dr. John T. Porter, who himself had served many years earlier as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s pulpit assistant at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama and later under the tutelage of Martin Luther King, Sr. at Ebenezer. From there, he served for six years as the Youth Pastor and four years as Assistant Pastor at the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church of New York City – also one of the nation’s leading congregations. Finally, before taking the helm of Ebenezer, Pastor Warnock immersed himself further in the challenges of urban ministry, in the 21st century, while serving for 4 ½ years as the Senior Pastor of Baltimore’s Douglas Memorial Community Church, also a spiritual base of social activism.
Under Pastor Warnock’s leadership, more than 4,000 new members have joined Ebenezer, enhancing the Church’s legacy of social activism with both spiritual and numerical growth. Several new ministries have been launched, including Worship on Wednesdays (WOW), EbenezerFest, Cutting Through Crisis, Faith & Fitness, Jericho Lounge, Young Adult Ministry and After Midnight (A Watch Night Worship Celebration). The Church’s income has continued to grow, even during the Great Recession, making possible over $5 million in capital improvements to the Educational Building and the Horizon Sanctuary, including HVAC systems, upgrades to the roof and enhancements in sound and lighting systems. Additionally, our pastor led us in a successful fundraising campaign to build the $8.5 million Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resources Complex. The brand new building houses the Church’s administrative offices, the fellowship hall, classrooms, meeting rooms, a Cyber Café and an MLK Collaborative of four nonprofit partners, including Operation HOPE, Casey Family Programs, The Center for Working Families and nsoro Educational Foundation, all engaged together in helping individuals and families to improve their own life outcomes and live healthier and more prosperous lives.
The Rev. Dr. Warnock graduated from Morehouse College cum laude in 1991, receiving the B.A. degree in psychology. He also holds a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from Union Theological Seminary, New York City, from which he graduated with honors and distinctions. Seeing his pastoral work as tied to the ministry of scholarship and the life of the mind, Rev. Warnock continued his graduate studies at Union, receiving a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degree and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in the field of systematic theology.
Rev. Warnock has a long history of backing leftist cause celebres and legal cases:
- As a pastor, Rev. Warnock sees the whole community as his parish. Accordingly, he has defended voting rights in his own state of Georgia. And when, in 2006, the State of Louisiana failed to protect the voting rights of recent Katrina evacuees, he led a “Freedom Caravan” of citizens back to New Orleans to vote. Dr. Warnock has addressed his ministry to urban men through a barbershop ministry called “Cutting Thru Crisis” and through a series of Bible Studies held in a local car wash. Newsweek magazine covered this example of his unconventional approach to ministry in an article entitled, “For Those Who’ve Fallen, Salvation Amid the Suds.” Dr. Warnock has taken on the contradictions in our criminal justice system through his preaching and through his fierce public advocacy. Along with many others, he stood up for Troy Davis, Trayvon Martin and Genarlow Wilson, a high school student ensnared by a poorly written law and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Wilson was released on appeal and has since graduated from Morehouse College. His bold and visionary leadership has been further demonstrated through his public policy work with The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS and his ongoing efforts to provide tuition support for young people pursuing post-secondary education. Dr. Warnock is a graduate of the Leadership Program sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee, a graduate of the Summer Leadership Institute of Harvard University and a graduate of Leadership Atlanta.
- He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. and a Lifetime Member of the NAACP.
Rev. Warnock’s activism was honored in 2016, as his footprints were placed on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. Among other honors, Rev. Warnock has been recognized as one of “Atlanta’s 55 Most Powerful” by Atlanta magazine, one of the “New Kingdom Voices” by Gospel Today magazine, one of “God’s Trombones” by the Rainbow Push Coalition, a “Good Shepherd” by Associated Black Charities, one of the “Chosen Pastors” by The Gospel Choice Awards, “A Man of Influence” by the Atlanta Business League, one of The Root 100 in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 (TheRoot.com a division of the Washington Post), one of the “Top 10 Most Influential Black Ministers” by Loop 21, one of the “20 Top African American Church Leaders” by TheRoot.com and he has received the Reverend Dr. William A. Jones Justice Award from the National Action Network. He is a National TRIO Achiever Award recipient and has been honored by induction into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers.
Natural Resources Defense Council
Common Defense endorsement
Common Defense endorsed Raphael Warnock for Senate in 2022.
Our Revolution endorsement 2022
Our Revolution endorsed Raphael Warnock in 2022.
Our Revolution 2020
Raphael Warnock Pastor during Fidel Castro Visit
In an article headlined "Georgia Senate candidate Warnock was assistant pastor of church that hosted, praised Fidel Castro in 1995," it was revealed that Raphael Warnock was a pastor at the Abyssinian Baptist Church when Cuban Marxist dictator Fidel Castro visited in 1995. Raphael Warnock's campaign spokesman distanced the Senate candidate from the Marxist dictator.
The article revealed that "In C-span footage At the event, Head Pastor Calvin Butts praised Castro, saying, “Alluding to Fidel’s mantras!” Fidel! Fidel!" Further, it was explained that Calvin Butts "defended the decision to invite Castro, arguing that 'our tradition is to welcome those who are visionaries, those who are revolutionaries, and those who want the freedom of all people around the world.'
- "Early in the evening, about 1,300 people sat shoulder to shoulder in the pews of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, waiting for Mr. Castro. A diverse crowd, including whites, blacks and Hispanic people, had spent hours on line for the ticketed event. Many said they were there to show support for Mr. Castro's efforts to derail the Helms-Burton bill in Congress, which seeks to tighten the economic embargo. Many blacks, in particular, said they admired him because they believed he had created harmony between the races in Cuba.
- "I was here the last time when he came to the Theresa Hotel" in Harlem, said David Brothers, 76. "I felt I had to come again. He's a principled man and he doesn't bow down. He did a whole lot for Africans."
- Asked whether he expected to see a firebrand mellowed with age, Mr. Brothers said: "He's still the revolutionary. The suit don't make the man."
- Mr. Castro entered the church at about 7:45 to roars of "Fidel! Fidel! Fidel!" The crowd chanted, "Cuba, si, bloqueo, no." Mr. Castro strode to the podium, relishing the boisterous show of support, which lasted for 10 minutes.
- He smiled and nodded at the politicans [sic] and leaders seated in the balcony above, among them Representative Charles Rangel, Representative Nydia Velasquez, Representative Jose Serrano and Angela Davis, the 1970's black radical who is now a professor of philosophy at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Ms. Davis smiled at him and gave him a fisted salute."
Butts speaks at Warnock's church
Raphael Warnock Mar 19, 2011.
The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III of New York's The Abyssinian Baptist Church will be the speaker at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III of New York's The Abyssinian Baptist Church spoke at Ebenezer Baptist Church as it celebrated its 125th anniversary in August 2012.
Rep. John Lewis , D-Atlanta , who recently received the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, will receive a special honor for his dedication racial equality. Also being honored is state Sen. Leroy Johnson, who is chairman of the church's board of trustees.
Praise from Calvin Butts
A September, 2001 article from the Baltimore Sun Raphael Warnock addresses Raphael Warnock's new position as pastor of Douglas Memorial Community Church in West Baltimore, as well as his participation "in a daylong symposium: "The Black Church's Response to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic."
From the article:
- The Rev. Calvin Butts, pastor of Abyssinian, said he wasn't surprised Warnock was hired.
- "He's one of the brightest and most intelligent and academically prepared young clergymen in the country," Butts said. "He got along excellently with the church members of all ages. He's a forceful leader, very serious about the issues that impact especially the African-American community. He's one of the more thoughtful preachers of his generation."
Ossie Davis connection
Obery Hendricks connection
New Georgia Project
Fair Fight endorsement
According to Lauren Groh-Wargo
- Last month, Fair Fight and Stacey Abrams did something for the first time and something we likely won’t do again — endorse in a contested Democratic U.S. Senate race. On January 30, Reverend Raphael Warnock launched his campaign for U.S. Senate. Fair Fight and Stacey endorsed his run soon thereafter, and Fair Fight is making in-kind contributions close to the maximum limit to support his run.
- I wanted to share some background on why Rev. Warnock is so special and important to me personally, and to our work overall. Rev. Warnock and Stacey have had a long relationship and have worked together on many important issues through the years. The three of us worked closely together in 2014 when we first launched the New Georgia Project, an organization founded to register an electorate that was increasingly younger and more diverse. SOS Brian Kemp launched a suppressive, evil investigation into the New Georgia Project that year, trying to shut down the largest voter registration drive the state had seen in decades, charging us with voter registration fraud. Ultimately, we were vindicated, and no wrongdoing was found. But those months in many ways are the genesis of where we are today.
- I met Stacey’s longtime friend and former colleague Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, and was connected with Dara Lindenbaum — both who came on that year as legal counsel in our fight against the investigation, and then in the Writ of Mandamus we filed against Kemp — as we had unknowingly uncovered at the time the “exact match” law designed to keep people off voter rolls. 40,000 of the 86,000 forms NGP submitted that year weren’t showing up on the rolls, and so the Mandamus action was meant to force him to register those voters. Though that suit was unsuccessful, the issue evolved into another lawsuit filed by the Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, and that lawsuit resulted in 30,000 voters being reinstated to the rolls who had been flagged in 2014 and cancelled out of the system.
- When Kemp launched his investigation that year and the subpoena arrived and the fight quickly escalated, Stacey and I reached out to Rev. Warnock. He jumped in and worked side by side with us to fight back against Kemp’s attempt to shut down and criminalize voter registration. For Rev. Warnock’s kindness and fearlessness in that fight, I will be forever grateful. It was a very difficult time as we expected at any moment our canvassing offices to be raided, and we had to periodically shut the operation down because we were worried about our canvassers being harassed or arrested. Stacey stepped down from her role as Chair of NGP when she filed for the gubernatorial race in 2017, and Rev. Warnock stepped up as the new Chair of the organization. Now Francys Johnson, another fighter for voting rights and the former State President of the GA NAACP, has become the Chair of NGP.
- Rev. Warnock is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, one of our co-plaintiffs in our nonpartisan Fair Fight Action litigation, and he with his church have fought alongside us to get relief from the courts for Georgia voters.
- Rev. Warnock is also a leader on numerous progressive issues, including gun safety, criminal justice reform, and civil and human rights. It is an honor to call him a friend, and I could not be happier for the Georgians we fight for every day that he is stepping up to run for US Senate. His run has the chance to transform the conversation about the importance of Georgia in the 2020 election.
- I hope some of this lends some background as to why Fair Fight’s PAC is taking unprecedented steps to support his candidacy — and why we think you should join us! Please consider making a contribution to Rev. Warnock and help him become the next U.S. Senator from Georgia.
As an opinion leader, his perspective has been sought out by electronic and print media, locally, nationally and internationally. His work has been featured on CNN, the CBS Evening News, the Huffington Post and in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution which hailed him “a leader among Atlanta – and national – clergy, a fitting heir to the mantle once worn by The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” At President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama’s request, Dr. Warnock delivered the closing prayer at the 2013 Inaugural Prayer Service held at the National Cathedral and delivered the sermon for the Annual White House Prayer breakfast in March 2016.
Rev. Warnock has preached his message of salvation and liberation in such places as The Riverside Church of New York and the International Festival of Homiletics. But he is just as comfortable in a small, country church or an urban storefront. His first book is entitled, The Divided Mind of the Black Church; Theology, Piety & Public Witness (NYU Press, 2014).
June 2018 Ebenezer Baptist church and partners raised money to bail out folks out of jail next week — in time for Father’s Day and Juneteenth. For the church, the bailout was part of a larger focus on mass incarceration.
“We who believe in freedom cannot rest until we dismantle mass incarceration,” said Rev. Raphael Warnock from his pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Wednesday night, kicking off the Freedom Day Bailout Campaign.
“Part of how that happens is we criminalize poor people. We have effectively made being poor in America a crime,” he said.
He and other critics nationwide want to change how the criminal justice system treats people who don’t have the cash to pay bail or fines or fees.
For the same charges, it’s a different outcome for a person who has $1,000 to pay bail and someone who doesn’t have that money. Without money, people wait for trial in jail.
Or when someone can’t pay a fine, more, unaffordable trouble piles up.
Several times, Warnock referred to the Ferguson report, the scathing product of a federal investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri police. The report documented systemic racism among officers, a pattern of excessive force and other violations of law, plus the effect of fees and fines on folks who can’t pay them.
“As we saw with Ferguson report, poor people get caught up in the system, with fees and fines and then they end up in jail. If they have employment, they end up losing it, if they have children, their children end up in trouble. So this is a serious moral issue,” said Warnock.
Warnock said they hope to bail out a couple dozen people — and that there are similar campaigns going on across the country to address the cash bail system.
In the meantime, campaigners are also asking prosecutors to refrain from demands for cash bail for the vast majority of offenses, said Tiffany Roberts, chair of the Ebenezer Baptist Church Social Justice Ministry.
The new city rule, which had Ebenezer’s support, eliminates bail for some cases that come up in Atlanta’s Municipal Court.
And a new state law requires judges to consider a person’s ability to pay bail on misdemeanors before setting it.
High-profile bailouts in opposition to mass incarceration have already been happening across the country, including national events like Black Mamas Bail Out, set up in time for Mother’s Day. In Atlanta, one of the organizers was Southerners On New Ground, which is also a partner in this campaign, among many other organizations.
Warnock said the church’s ongoing work on ending mass incarceration has included helping people restrict arrest records from public view. That can be done if the arrest didn’t result in a conviction. Those arrest records can prevent people from getting jobs or apartments, Warnock said, even if the person was never convicted of anything.
He also said that in the spring, the church is hosting an interfaith conference on mass incarceration.
Stacey Abrams connection
Nan Orrock connection
Renitta Shannon connection
State Representative Renitta Shannon February 8 2020.
Raphael Warnock is not “new to this” he’s “true to this”. I remember organizing with him in 2014 through #MoralMondays Georgia, to conduct civil disobedience at the Georgia Capitol to demand lawmakers #ExpandMedicaid in Georgia. He was 1 of 39 arrested fighting for healthcare for Georgia’s most vulnerable. I trust him to take that same fight to the US senate. I could not be more excited to stand with him. Let’s get him there 👇🏾
In Georgia, organizers from Occupy our Homes Atlanta, DSA, and other groups that had worked together began talking about a Moral Monday Georgia (MMGA) coalition in August of 2013. The new state NAACP president, Rev. Francys Johnson, led the first rally, for Medicaid expansion, which attracted 500 people and significant media coverage. He also brought Rev. Barber to speak in Atlanta that day.
A core group of 100-200 activists from 40 Georgia organizations, including DSA, held weekly rallies on a variety of issues drawn from a 12-point platform. On three of the rally days, groups sat in at the Capitol and legislative offices, resulting in 73 arrests of 61 people, 10 DSA members among them. During the last week of the session in mid-March, MMGA—joined by Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock of Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church—drew national and international media attention. This summer, groups of arrestees participated in a 16-city “Jailed for Justice” tour of the state, hoping to spread MMGA outside of Atlanta.
An Open Letter to Governor Nathan Deal
An Open Letter to Governor Nathan Deal from Moral Monday GA By Moral Monday Georgia, April 30, 2014
As of last night, at the stroke of midnight, the clock of human progress turned back decades. You have caused unfair, unjust and harmful consequences for regular everyday Georgians with the passage of HB 990, HB 772, HB 714 and SB 98.
Sadly, your inaction has and will continue to cost real lives and hardships for Georgians who are already struggling. You have chosen politics over principle, a short term view of narrow self-interest over a long term vision of what's actually best for Georgia, making public policy turns that further marginalize our most vulnerable citizens while also crippling the state's prospects for economic recovery and prosperity...
- Reverend Raphael Warnock, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church
- Dr Francys Johnson, NAACP Georgia President
- Jackie Rodriguez, Georgia Now President
- Tim Franzen, American Friends Service Committee
- La’die Mansfield, Global Organizing Institute
- Dianne Mathiowetz, Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition
- Neil Sardana, Atlanta Jobs with Justice
Nearly 40 Moral Monday Georgia activists were arrested Tuesday March 18, 2014, for interrupting proceedings throughout the Georgia Capitol in an effort to urge Gov. Nathan Deal to expand Medicaid - and block legislation that would strip him of the authority to do so.
16 Arrests - Senate Gallery: Joe Beasley, 77 Edward Loring, 74, Gary Kennedy, 51, Richard Miles Rustay, 84, Marquerite Casey, 65, Shawn Adelman, 32, female, Lorraine Fontana, 66, Minnie Ruffin, 72, Gladys B. Rustay, 81, Emma Stitt, 23, Morgan Swann, 62, female, Emma French, 22, John Slaughter, 74, Ray Miklethun, 79, Gregory Ames, 65, Robert Goodman, 73.
12 Arrests - at Governor's Office: Shanan Eugene Jones, 39 George F. Watson, Jr., 65, Francys Johnson, Jr., 34, male, Jeffrey Blair Benoit, 55, John Evans, 81, Raphael Warnock, 44, Karen Elaine Reagle, 71, Katherine Acker, 61, George Johnson, 42, Ronald Allen, 38, Fred Douglas Taylor, 71, Donald Bender, 73.
11 Arrests - Outside Senate Doors: Kevin Arthur Morgan, 66, Emilia Sigrid Kaiser, 26, female, Daniel Sean Hanley, 32, Sara Katherine Gregory, 31, Dawn Gibson, 39, Corey A. Hardiman, 22, male, Fred Albert, 67, Jacqueline Rodriquez, 31, Michael Schumm, 51, Neil Yukt Sardana, 32 Misty Novitch, 27.
- Georgia Senate candidate Warnock was assistant pastor of church that hosted, praised Fidel Castro in 1995 (accessed Nov 14 2020)
- THE U.N. AT 50: CASTRO;Castro Back In Fatigues, And Harlem (accessed Nov 14 2020)
- Pastor set to tackle issues (accessed Nov 14 2020)