The Reverend Dr. Jessica Kendall Ingram has served as the Episcopal Supervisor for the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church since July 4, 2012. Dr. Ingram oversees the work of the Women’s Missionary Society with a membership of over 5,000 women, the Young People’s Division, and the Minister Spouses for more than 300 churches in Delaware, New England, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. She is the First Supervisor, who is an Ordained Elder in the AME serve to in this capacity in the history of the First District. Rev. Ingram holds the distinction of being the Executive Director of Planning for the Hosting of the General Conference of the AME Church in 2016. This conference was attended by over 40,000 persons.
Rev. Jessica’s work with the Women’s Missionary Society started at a young age. She was a YPDer at Wayman AME Church in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1975 she served for a year as a missionary teacher in Monrovia, Liberia. She taught English at Monrovia, High School and worked with the pastor in implementing outreach mission programs.
After her marriage to Rev. Gregory G.M. Ingram she worked with the Women’s Missionary Society at all of their assignments inclusive of Allen A.M.E. Alton, Illinois, St. John A.M.E. Springfield, Illinois, Quinn Chapel A.M.E., Chicago, Illinois and Oak Grove A.M.E. in Detroit. She was the area YPD Director in the Illinois Annual Conference as well as the Chairperson of Constitution and By-laws. Rev. Jessica was also the worship director for the Chicago Conference Branch of the WMS and the editor of the Missionary Newsletter for the Fourth District. She was an elected delegate to three WMS Quadrennials. Although ordained Elders cannot be members of the Women’s Missionary Society she continued her work with this worthwhile ministry.
Prior to her current assignment, Dr. Ingram served from 2004-2012 as the Episcopal Supervisor in the Tenth Episcopal District, which comprises the State of Texas. From 2000-2004, she was the Supervisor of Missions for the Fifteenth Episcopal District, which includes Angola, Namibia and most of South Africa.
From 1987-2000, Rev. Jessica, as she affectionately is called by many, served as the full-time Assistant Pastor of Oak Grove A.M.E. Church in Detroit, Michigan, where she established a comprehensive Ministry to Women. In 1992, while at Oak Grove, Dr. Ingram founded the L.I.F.T. Women's Resource Center to address the needs of women who are recovering from physical, mental and substance abuse. The Center has served more than 30,000 women since its inception.
In addition to her work in the local church, Dr. Ingram has served as an Adjunct Professor at Ashland Theological Seminary, where she taught classes on Women in Ministry, Spiritual Formation and Ministerial Ethics. She has traveled the United States, the Caribbean and Africa preaching, lecturing and facilitating workshops and retreats.
Because of her concern and compassion for the plight of women in South Africa, Dr. Ingram in 2003 founded the Balm in Gilead Centre: The Healing Place for Women. She raised more than $300,000 to construct the facility and an additional $100,000 for operational support. The Centre is located in Wallacedene, an impoverished settlement east of Cape Town, where many of the women are unemployed, uneducated and underserved. The Centre provides them with basic diagnostic medical testing and referrals, along with parenting skills, computer classes, day care and job training. Dr. Ingram has made four mission trips to the Centre since 2005. On February 20, 2018, the Centre was renamed “The Rev. Dr. Jessica Kendall Ingram Multipurpose & Resource Balm of Gilead Centre” by Bishop David Rwhynica Daniels, Jr., Presiding Prelate and Rev. Mother Irene Daniels, Episcopal Supervisor of the 15th Episcopal District AME Church.
In addition, she planned and executed six International Women’s Convocations (IWC). In 2003, more than 900 people from the USA joined hundreds of women from Africa for IWC 2003 in Cape Town. This historic event was a week-long, cross-cultural, intergenerational experience that included worship services, workshops and a wide-ranging outreach ministry. IWC 2004 was held in Kimberley, capital of the Northern Cape Province in South Africa. That was followed by IWC 2006 in Dallas, Texas. The women of the Tenth Episcopal District raised more than $100,000 to cover travel and hotel expenses for women who attended from every overseas district of the AME Church. This was the first comprehensive, global convocation for women in the history of the AME Church to originate in the United States. Dr. Ingram continued to act on her passion for bringing women of all nations together for spiritual enrichment by sponsoring three additional International Women’s Convocations. They were held in Cape Town in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Always searching for new ways to bless the lives of women, Dr. Ingram founded the Women of Hope Project, Inc., while in Texas. Women of Hope is a nonprofit, women’s resource and advocacy group headquartered in the United States, but motivated by a global agenda. The organization’s Mission is to disrupt the status quo for disadvantaged women by improving their physical, spiritual, emotional and financial well-being.
In the First District she founded Project Possible. This initiative is designed to address the needs of marginalized women. The project has programs for young girls who are engaged in human sex trafficking, women who have been released from prison as well as providing G.E.D. programs for women who want their high school diplomas. It is in operation in all seven of the annual conferences.
An accomplished writer, Dr. Ingram has self-published three widely read and highly praised books: The Journey Inward, Still on the Journey and A Journey in the Experience of Prayer: A Guide for the Pilgrim Traveler. In 1997 she was featured in Ebony magazine as one of the Fifteen Top African-American Female Preachers in the United States. The African-American Pulpit, considered to be the definitive journal on preaching in black America, named her one of the 20 Great African-American Revivalists. Her sermon, “The Silence of God,” was included in the journal along with a CD.
In June of 2019, Rev. Jessica was chosen as the morning Lecturer at the 105th Session of the Hampton Institute. She is one of a small group of women who have had this honor.
Dr. Ingram earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education from the University of Missouri, a Master of Arts degree in Guidance and Counseling from St. Louis University, a Master of Religious Education from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry in Spirituality from United Theological Seminary. She was trained in Spiritual Direction at the Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. Rev. Ingram is the first protestant African American to study at this center.
Dr. Ingram is a past President of the Supervisors Council of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She has received numerous awards from civic groups, community organizations and the seminaries she has attended. She has been a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., since 1966, when she became a charter member of the Epsilon Psi Chapter at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Dr. Ingram has been married to Bishop Gregory Gerald McKinley Ingram for 43 years. They are the proud parents of Jennifer Ingram McCoy and have welcomed to their family Gregory McCoy. They have two beautiful granddaughters, Jayda and Gabby.