Reverend Kenneth I. Lewis, Jr.
Senior Pastor at Green Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, Senior Director of the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence
In the days after a white supremacist murdered nine African Americans during prayer service at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, the Reverend Kenneth I. Lewis, Jr., helped organize a memorial 1,000 miles away in Portland. More than 1,300 people turned out for the tribute at Merrill Auditorium. Lewis saw it as “an opportunity for some collective mourning, a memorializing of what transpired to encourage us to remain vigilant as to what our community ethics are and to declare our intolerance for racial hatred.” Lewis has been pastor of the historic Green Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church since 2003 and also serves as the director of the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence. “The wonderful thing about the Green Memorial Church is it is a historic African American institution that is wonderfully diverse,” he says. “For years the statement was made that Sunday is the most segregated day in the United States. But not at the corner of Monument and Sheridan.” Lewis, like Green Memorial, is rooted in the community. He has developed relationships with elected officials, business leaders, law enforcement, and community organizers to address issues of equity in health, education, and economic opportunity. “Our church represents what can be and what must be if our city, state, and nation ever expect to actualize the dream of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Lewis says, “to have a beloved community, where race and class distinctions give way to the ties that bind us all: faith, hope, and love.”