La Ronda D. Barnes espouses a faith of grace, passion, social justice and love as a preacher, an author, and the founding pastor of Affirmation Church. Like Hannah in the book of 1 Samuel in Christian scripture, La Ronda has given her first child, Affirmation Church, in the service of God. After meeting weekly for several months in Fleming Island, Florida, Affirmation became a church without walls, with Pastor La Ronda serving parishioners wherever they are as needed.
She states, “I realized that at this time, God has called me to preach and pastor primarily in non-traditional ways, including through scholarship and writing. I also realized that I can practice what I preach by encouraging people to be involved in more than one local church or ministry. As Christians, we have committed to first be members of the body of Christ, not of any particular ministry, denomination, or other entity. We must be willing to listen to God’s voice in determining what our individual and communal roles are at any given point in our daily lives.”
Raised in the Disciples of Christ Church, La Ronda left the institutional church in her pre-teens and converted to Reform Judaism in her mid-20s. For several years she was not involved with any faith community and only returned to the church in her early 30s after being invited to an adult Sunday School class by a friend.
In 2008, La Ronda answered God’s call to the ministry. Over the years, she has preached, lectured, and led study groups in denominational and non-denominational churches. She is a graduate of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology (M.Div.), Yale Law School (J.D.), the University of Akron (B.A., English), and the University of Michigan (M.A., Journalism). In 2017, she returned to Candler to pursue a Master of Theology degree (Th.M), a post-master’s degree for concentrating in a specific theological area. La Ronda’s focus area was Womanist Christology, which connects with her desire to help broaden the way Christianity is viewed, especially with regard to the empowerment of women within and through the teachings of the faith. After completing the Th.M degree in 2019, La Ronda completed a Master of Arts in Practical Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta in 2021. Her work at Columbia included a focus on Preaching and on Womanist Christology and the Arts. Currently, La Ronda is pursuing a PhD in Practical Theology with a concentration in Homiletics at Boston University School of Theology.
Prior to entering the ministry, La Ronda worked as an attorney in Atlanta, Georgia serving as an administrative law judge, appellate court attorney, legal aid attorney, and law professor. She was the first African-American female to be elected as chair of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division in its 75 year history, leading the 150,000 member volunteer association and serving as its spokesperson at conferences around the world.
La Ronda is an avid traveler and a nature and animal lover. She is the author of Wells in the Wilderness: A Journey to Faith and Freedom. Learn more about her faith and hear sermons at http://www.larondabarnes.com