LEAD PASTOR REVEREND VICTOR CYRUS-FRANKLIN
Rev. Victor Cyrus-Franklin, Jr. is the Lead Pastor of Grace UMC-Los Angeles and Inglewood First UMC in Inglewood, CA. He is a Provisional Elder in the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church. Through teaching, preaching, living, and learning, Pastor Victor has a passion for ministry that crosses racial, gender and generational boundaries as we follow Jesus toward wholeness, reconciliation and justice.
A native of Nashville, TN, Pastor Victor is the son of a retired public school teacher and a United Methodist clergywoman. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Tennessee State University with a major in English and a minor in Philosophy and Religious Studies and went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Gammon Theological Seminary of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) with a concentration in theology. He formerly served as Assistant Pastor of East Point First Mallalieu UMC, a multiracial congregation in metropolitan Atlanta, GA, Advocacy Organizer for the General Commission on Religion and Race of the United Methodist Church (Washington, DC) and Associate Pastor of Holman UMC in Los Angeles, CA. Among his experience in the wider church and community, Pastor Victor serves as Chair of the California-Pacific Conference chapter of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, the Digital Strategy Panel for the United Methodist Publishing House, the Design Team for the Convocation for Pastors of Black Churches and on the L.A. Voice local community organizing committee of lay and clergy faith leaders in the Inglewood-LAX area.
His spouse, Rev. Neema Cyrus-Franklin, is an ordained minister of word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently serving as Stated Clerk for the Presbytery of the Pacific. They met in seminary at the ITC and are the proud parents of two beautiful children. He loves reading, live music, funky sneakers and spending quality time with his family.
ASSOCIATE PASTOR LESA SMITH
is no stranger to Grace UMC. Her mother, father and three siblings moved three blocks from Grace Church in the summer of 1964. Her brother, Mark, was born a year later. The family joined Grace Church in 1965 after Florence Heights Methodist Church closed. Rev. Ennis Whaley, the first African-American pastor appointed to Grace Church, was the first to share with the young adult Lesa that he saw evidence of pastoral ministry gifts and graces in her. A few years later, she entered the ordination process and enrolled at the Claremont School of Theology where she completed the Licensed Local Pastor Course of Study and Advanced Course of Study programs. Her pastoral appointments include: Martin Luther King, Jr. UMC, Holman UMC (Associate Pastor), First Inglewood UMC and Dominguez UMC.
In addition to her ministry in local churches, for the past five years, she has also served as the Executive Director of the Living into the Future Foundation.
Associate Pastor Lesa has two adult daughters, Zaneta and Ebony, who reside in Inglewood, CA.
One of Associate Pastor Lesa’s favorite scriptures is: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6