Pastor/Scholar the Reverend Dr. Laurel E Scott is “on a mission from God” as the House of Blues wall hanging in her office at Newman Memorial United Methodist Church announces. The mission, as she interprets it, is to love the whole creation, but most especially the people of God who are in need – in need of love, in need of knowledge, in need of wisdom, in need of power – whatever the need.
Reverend Scott’s call to ordained ministry was gradual, coming over a lifetime of participation in various households of faith in her native Barbados and in New York City where she lived for most of her life. This call was fully acknowledged while she was a member of the St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Brooklyn New York, where she volunteered as Communications Director and Bible Study Instructor. Pastor Scott received her Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Liturgical Studies and Doctor of Philosophy degree in Practical Theology from Boston University School of Theology, where she researched the church’s ministry with new immigrants. Her dissertation, entitled “To Welcome the Stranger at the Door; Hospitality with Ghanaian immigrants in the United Methodist Church” is one of the first to focus on immigrants from the continent of Africa.
Her current stance as an activist minister reflects a lifetime of work with the poor, the disenfranchised, the voiceless, and those at the margins of society. A former Special and Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of Human Resources Administration in New York City, she was responsible for special projects involving the Public Assistance population, Youth in Foster Care, the elderly, the homeless and victims of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. While at HRA, she created a working partnership between the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Department of Social Services. For two years, she expanded and directed an innovative job training program for homeless adults at LaGuardia Community College in Queens New York, and worked as a College Prep instructor at New York City’s prison for women on Riker’s Island. She completed basic Clinical Pastoral Educational requirements working with the New Orleans, LA Police Department as a summer chaplain in 2001.
Reverend Scott became intensely involved in the worker justice movement while she was pastor-in-charge of historic Old West United Methodist Church in Boston, Massachusetts. Approached by the janitors’ union for permission to use the church building to launch their campaign for higher wages and improved working conditions, she consented and then joined them on the picket line, speaking out on their behalf. She has continued to speak out on behalf of the working poor and is one of Inter Faith Worker Justice’s 100 Religious Spokespersons for the Employee Free Choice Act. She served as chair of the Commission on Religion and Race in New England.
Reverend Scott was elected President of the National Association of Commissions on Equitable Compensation of the United Methodist Church (NACEC) in 2010 and served through 2014. She will complete her term as immediate Past President of the Commission in in 2018. She was Chair of the Program and Worship Committee for the 2012 Jurisdictional Conference and a member of the 2006-2011 World Methodist Council.
A recipient of numerous awards for community service and scholarship, Pastor Scott was the Anna Howard Shaw Women’s Center Scholar at Boston University School of Theology 2003-2010, during which time she was one of three researchers to complete a study on immigrant women. Her wide-ranging interests include politics, world affairs, women’s issues, genealogy and legacy, Jewish-Christian relations and the role of the pastor as spiritual leader in rapidly changing contemporary contexts.
Her hobbies include museums and historical artifacts, world travel, volunteering her skills in civic and community organizations, theatre, home design, entertaining.
The Reverend Dr. Laurel Scott returned to her home in New York in 2013 after spending thirteen years serving United Methodist churches in Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts, and Manchester, CT. She currently serves as Secretary of the NYAC BMCR and Vice President of the national Black Clergywomen in the United Methodist Church.