First Lady Files: Karla Augustine

“I really believe that my upbringing in the church shaped who I am,” says Karla Augustine, first lady of Live Oak Missionary Baptist Church. “When I have challenges I am able to fall back on my faith because I got it at an early age. It holds me together and it keeps me together.”

As a matter of fact, her faith helped her grapple with doubts concerning becoming a first lady.

“I definitely knew that it was a major commitment but I was up for it,” says the UC San Diego alumnus. “It wasn’t in the plans, but the Lord just had to change my life.”

Since coming to Live Oaks MBC with her husband Michael five years ago, Augustine has formed a woman’s Bible study.

“We keep one another encouraged by group study and Bible study,” says Augustine, who works in provider relationships for a medical group.

“We’re all the same. We’re all women. I’m no better than them because I am the first lady. In the five years, we’ve all gone through things together that lets us see how much we need God and we need each other. We can’t do it alone.”

Says Augustine, “I’ve truly learned what it means to be a woman of God, a wife and an example to others through the first lady role and how to be a positive example to others.”


First Lady Files: Pearl Lindsay

First Lady Pearl Lindsay of Christ Temple Cathedral Church in Los Angeles faced a double responsibility when she became both a newlywed and pastor’s wife at the young age of 23.

“I moved all the way across the country to Memphis, away from my family,” says the Compton, California native. “I was just thrown into a new position. I had to learn on the job training with no one to really take me under their wing.”

So it’s no wonder the wife of senior Bishop Emery Lindsay gladly provides leadership, training workshops and encouragement to other pastor’s wives and minister’s wives as the first lady of the whole Churches of Christ Holiness denomination – a position she’s held for over twenty years.

“We give so much of ourselves that we forget about what our dreams and hopes are because we want to be supportive to our husband in the ministry. So you have to remind yourself whom you’re doing all this for. And of course you’re doing it unto the Lord.”

At the church Lindsay is a Sunday school teacher, serves as vice president for the women’s ministry at the church called the UCWM (United Christian’s Women’s Ministry) and she also sings in the choir.

“With that comes a lot of responsibilities, but as long as I put Him first; as long as I trust in Him and lean on Him and not always lean on my own understanding, He’s given me the power and the strength to be effective and continue to serve Him in His church.”


First Lady Files: Jeffreye Kessee

“You just want to be careful because you never know who’s watching,” says first lady Jeffreye Kessee of Mary Magdalene Missionary Baptist Church. “You never know who’s admiring you or trying to be mentored by you.”

Kessee, who’s husband Theodis Kessee’s two brothers are also pastors in Los Angeles, learned quick what was expected of her two years ago when the former pastor left and her husband was chosen to replace him.

“When you take on leadership roles, you have to really pray and try to do the best you can and be the best person and Christian that you can be,” said the mother of three grown daughters.

Her passions at the church include working with the Women of Mary Magdalene and the Youth Department, which is developing at a rapid pace. She is also a member of the Voices of Ministry Choir. Both she and her husband grew up there.

“I’ve been with the church since I was 13. But when I became first lady I felt like all eyes were on me. It was kind of overwhelming at first,” she said.

Now, the full-time administrative assistant at USC has  her mind on starting outreaches to assist people in the community and be a support system for her family and church members.

“I go around and boost the morale there. It’s a new year and we’re trying to do a new thing.”


First Lady Files: Savalla Tanner McLeod

“When I first started, I experienced loneliness,” says first lady Savalla Tanner McLeod. “It was loneliness from other women who had husbands in ministry, who could relate.”

New to Los Angeles since Bishop T. Larry Kirkland reassigned her husband, Rev. Gregory Keith McLeod, to Brookins Community AME church, Savalla says overcoming that challenge early on helped smooth out her families spontaneous move across the country.

“I’m pretty flexible. When I married my husband I knew we’d move around, so I wasn’t surprised,” says the mother of two boys, five and eight. “And everyone has been extremely nice. I’m grateful for that.”

Only two months ago, the young couple uprooted from Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church in St. Louis, Missouri, where they served for one year. Previously, they were based in Birmingham, Alabama, where she was raised and met her husband.

Savalla brings with her a strong belief in the power of intercessory prayer and credits Mrs. Mary Kirkland for reaching out to her when she was first adjusting to life as a preacher’s wife.

“She really has a heart for young pastor’s wives to show us and teach us things not just of the church, but in our personal lives like planning for retirement and owning your own home.”

She says the greatest lesson learned is that humbleness goes a long way.

“As long as I’m doing things for God I try not to see what other people want me to be, I only can be who I am and that’s what God made me.”


First Lady Files: LaToya Stewart


Ten months into her tenure as first lady of Greater Emmanuel Temple in Lynwood, LaToya Stewart feels at ease.

“I’m ecstatic being in this position that the Lord has chose me to do,” Stewart shared. “I wouldn’t say it’s been hard. But it’s definitely been eye opening.”

Seven years ago, when she learned her husband, Pastor Nisan Stewart, would take over for his father, the late Bishop Stewart, she started being more active in church but didn’t think too much about the challenge.“A lot of people would ask, ‘Are you ready? Are you prepared?’ I didn’t know what I was preparing myself for. But now that I’m in the position I know what I have to do and where people need me. Now it’s just doing the work.”

And what the mother of two (ages three and four) is working on is managing her time and being a positive role model for the children and teen girls by bringing them together for activities, fellowship, and most of all support, so they’ll continue to come back to the church.

Although Stewart admits she has a long way to go, she says she has already learned a valuable lesson that will serve her for years to come.

“I’ve learned to just be open minded and have a positive attitude because you are dealing with a lot of different personalities. You cannot be one sided and have your opinions about people. It’s basically receiving, understanding and being able to help those in their situations.”

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
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