Bethel AME Welcomes New Pastor Paul Thomas

On June 19, 2021 the Reverend Paul J. Thomas was appointed as the Presiding Elder of the Buffalo-Rochester District of the Western New York Conference, and the Pastor of Bethel AME Church in Buffalo, New York. 

At age 38, he becomes the youngest active presiding elder in Districts 1-13, and one of the youngest presiding elders in the AME Church. Bishop Ingram described the appointment as a “breakthrough.”

Prior to this appointment, Rev. Thomas was the pastor of Union AME Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A product of the Philadelphia school system, Rev. Thomas graduated from Central High School and   received a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University of Pennsylvania. Rev. Thomas also earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Turner Theological Seminary of the Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta, Georgia), and a Master of Education Degree in Special Education from Grand Canyon University (Arizona).   

He  answered his call to ministry during his time in college and preached his trial sermon Sunday, August 10, 2003, at Mt. Tabor AME Church in Philadelphia. The late Rev. Martha A. Lang was the Pastor. He was ordained an Itinerant Elder by Bishop Richard Franklin Norris in May 2009. While matriculated in seminary, Rev. Thomas worked under the tutelage of the Rev. Jeffrey B. Cooper at Trinity AME Church in Atlanta. He has served the congregations of New Hope AME Church (Haralson, Georgia), New Bethel AME Church (Willow Grove, Pennsylvania), and AME Union Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

In addition to ministry, Rev. Thomas worked as a grade school instructor. . He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, where he served as the treasurer of the Abington-Ambler (PA) Alumni Chapter for four years. Rev. Thomas serves on the board of directors for First District Self Help Inc., a Philadelphia-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing minority group initiatives. Rev. Thomas is the founding president for the Union Community Development Corporation, a service arm of AME Union Church. Rev. Thomas is a leader and mentor who advocates relationship building and the empowerment of all people. Welcome to Buffalo Pastor Paul J. Thomas!