M E E T  J A Y  A U G U S T I N E

T H E   S T O R Y

J A Y ' S  B I O

THE REV. JONATHAN C. AUGUSTINE, J.D., M.DIV.

Rev. Jay Augustine serves as the senior pastor of St. Joseph AME Church in Durham, NC, and as national chaplain of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. His ministry is filled with a history of leadership and service in addressing some of the 21st century’s most pressing social issues, bringing the church into the community and the community into the church. Immediately prior to assignment at St. Joe’s, Rev. Augustine was senior pastor of Historic St. James AME Church in New Orleans (1844), the birthplace of African Methodism in the Deep South and oldest predominately Black, Protestant church in the city. He was also an adjunct professor at Southern University Law Center.  

As Historic St. James’ senior pastor, Rev. Augustine leads ongoing restoration efforts on a multimillion dollar edifice that was originally constructed in 1848. The church is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is the oldest predominantly Black, Protestant church in New Orleans. He also leads a multimillion dollar housing ministry, allowing 32-families to live in high-quality homes they otherwise would not be able to afford, while simultaneously serving as the founding president of Julius Harrison McAllister Community Development Corporation, a community service and improvement ministry of Historic St. James, named in honor of the 129th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  In the midst of significant racial unrest in various parts of the United States in 2017, Rev. Augustine also successfully led public prayer vigils, as the national chaplain of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., leading to the removal of four Confederate monuments throughout New Orleans.    

An accomplished author, Rev. Augustine’s scholarly publications appear in numerous academic and professional journals around the United States, including the University of San Francisco Law Review, Southern California Review of Law & Social Justice, University of Louisville Law Review, and most recently, in the Richmond Public Interest Law Review.  He notably received the William & Carolyn Anderson Applied Theology Writing Award for his law & religion article published in the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal.  Moreover, his written scholarship has been cited by the Louisiana Supreme Court in published opinion. As a faith-based leader in social justice, he is the author of “Sometimes Seeing is Believing: Reflections on Faith & the Black Family Because of the Obamas,” published in Mr. President: Interfaith Perspectives on the Historic Presidency of Barack H. Obama (2016) and The Keys Are Being Passed: Race, Law Religion & the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement (2014), a book celebrating the 50th anniversary of the American Civil Rights Movement that has been featured at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference, Harlem Fine Arts Festival at Martha’s Vineyard, Essence magazine annual “Essence Fest,” and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Annual Convention.     

Rev. Augustine is a former civil rights litigator who served under gubernatorial appointment in the administration of Louisiana’s 55th governor, and also in locally elected office as vice president of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board.  He is a former member of the Louisiana Blue Ribbon Commission for Educational Excellence and previously served, under appointment from the Louisiana Supreme Court, as judge ad hoc of the Baton Rouge City Court.   

Rev. Augustine’s civic and community leadership has been repeatedly recognized throughout the United States of America. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama and is a past recipient of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Outstanding Alumni Brother of the Year Award. He also received the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce’s coveted Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award and was featured in Ebony magazine’s “30 Leaders of the Future.” Rev. Augustine is a member of the St. Luke Masonic Lodge No. 4 and the Eureka Consistory No. 7 (PHA), as well as a silver life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc

After earning an economics degree from Howard University, where he was a University Board of Trustees Scholar and fully-funded Army ROTC Scholarship recipient, Rev. Augustine earned an active duty commission as an infantry officer in the United States Army.  Following four years of decorated military service, he earned his Juris Doctorate from Tulane University, before serving as a law clerk to Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice (then-Associate) Bernette Joshua Johnson. He later earned his Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary, as a fully-funded Beane Fellow and National Rainbow-PUSH Foundation Coalition Scholar, before completing an Engle Fellowship for further study at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree at Duke University, where he is a merit-selected Duke Scholar.

Rev. Augustine is married to Michelle Burks Augustine, his partner in life and ministry. Together, they have two teenage children, Mason and Jillian.

Rev. Augustine authored The Keys Are Being Passed: Race, Law, Religion and the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement (2014), a book celebrating the 50th anniversary of the American Civil Rights Movement that was featured at places including the Essence Music Festival, the Fine Arts Festival at Martha’s Vineyard, and at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Forum. He has also authored numerous scholarly articles appearing in national publications, including the Hastings Race & Poverty Law Journal, Richmond Public Interest Law Review, the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal and the University of San Francisco Law Review. His written scholarship has also been cited by the Louisiana Supreme Court in published opinion.

Rev. Augustine successfully represented a class of plaintiffs in Carter v. St. Helena Parish School Board, one of the oldest desegregation cases in the United States, having originally been filed by Thurgood Marshall, then-counsel for the NAACP. He also served in the administration of Louisiana’s 55th governor, as executive counsel & director of legislative affairs for the Louisiana Workforce Commission, and in locally elected office as vice president of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. He is a former judge ad hoc of the Baton Rouge City Court, silver life member of the NAACP, and life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

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