First Lady Files: Jennifer Payne

Categories // LA Focus, First Lady Files Friday, 11 March 2016

In the Baptist church where Jennifer Payne was raised, the pastor’s wife was never addressed as a first lady. The term wasn’t as prominent then as it is now.

Said Payne, “It’s not like she’s untouchable though at some churches, it might seem that way. But when I came to Bryant Temple, and everybody was addressing me as first lady, it really was different. I had to look over my shoulder and say are you talking to me.

“For me, I’m just Jennifer,” said the mother of four children including 7-month old twins, who has a passion for children’s and women’s ministry.


“When I grew up in church, my father was the Sunday School superintendent. We were involved in everything.

“Right now I am just trying to get my feet wet, so to speak and see how everything runs at Bryant temple and try to see where I might best serve.  I only recently returned to work so it’s balancing work, home life, church, the children, my husband and everything. I’m still learning.”

Though she and her husband (Pastor Theodore W. Payne IV of Bryant Temple AME) were both born in Centinela Hospital two days apart and had known each other all their lives through their families, they didn’t get reacquainted as adults until he reached out to her on Facebook as they both turned 30.

The Pasadena native, who works as a physical therapist and defines her fashion sense as a combination of Michelle Obama and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, remarks, “I don’t want to be so dressed up that people feel like I am not approachable.

“I believe that as a first lady, you should definitely be approachable. You have to be for the people, --for your congregation. They have to feel comfortable coming to you and speaking to you and beyond that I like when churches get really involved in the community and draw people from the community in.”

That, in essence, is what she wants to do at Bryant Temple AME.

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