Robert Turner

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This article is about the minister. For the optician, see Robert Turner Sr.

Robert Richard Allen Turner (born July 29, 1982 in Tuskegee) is the pastor of the historic Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, academic dean of Jackson Theological Seminary in Little Rock Arkansas, and a prominent social activist.

Turner is the son of Ruth Birdsong Turner and Robert Turner, an insurance salesman, who gave him the middle name of "Richard Allen" to honor the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He played football and basketball at Booker T. Washington High School in Tuskegee. He was also active in Alabama Boys State and interned with several public officials, including Richard Shelby, Artur Davis, Harold See and Jim Bennett.

Turner graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama, majoring in political science with a minor in Spanish. He led efforts for the university to memorialize the grave sites of its former slaves, Jack Rudolph and Boysey Brown.

He attended the University of Alabama School of Law in 2004, but withdrew after his first year to participate in a Christian mission in Kenya, during which he felt a call to full-time ministry. He earned a Masters of Divinity at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia in 2010, and a Doctorate of Divinity at the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio in 2014.

Turner pastored several churches in Alabama, including the Waymon Chapel AME Church in Brierfield, Ward Chapel AME Church in Selma, St Paul AME Church in Mobile, St Paul AME Church in Tuscaloosa, and St James AME Church in Birmingham's North Avondale neighborhood. While in Selma, Turner helped secure and administer a major grant awarded to the Blackbelt Community Foundation. He chaired the Social Civil and Political Action Committee for the AME Church, and co-authored the 2015 Alabama Civic Health index for the Montevallo-based David Mathews Center for Civic Life.

Turner accepted his present pastorate in August 2017. He is a member of the National African American Reparations Commission and president of the Historic Greenwood Main Street District. Turner and his wife, Shere, have two sons.

References

  • Landes, Tim (January 29, 2021) "Answering God's call" TulsaPeople
  • Johnson, Roy S. (May 13, 2021) "Tuskegee native, pastor of historic Tulsa church, leads call for reparations for 1921 Race Massacre." The Birmingham News

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