Rev. Michele Watkins Branch is a pastor-scholar-activist bred in the United Methodist Church and the Black freedom movement tradition. Rev. Michele is a proud product of the Maceo D. Pembroke, Sr. Memorial Institute for Ministerial Recruitment and Leadership Development where she answered her call to ministry at the age of 16, and for which she now serves as Dean.
On June 10, 2014, Rev. Michele was commissioned as a Provisional Elder in the Northern IL Conference of the United Methodist Church and appointed to SBC-21 (Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century).
As a part of her appointment to SBC-21, Rev. Michele has been locally deployed as a Clergy Intern to St. Mark United Methodist Church, Chicago IL where here ministry focuses on the spiritual formation of youth, young adults, and single parent families. Before pastoral ministry, Rev. Michele worked for over 8 years as a community organizer under her mentor, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and spent the last 2 years of her tenure at Rainbow PUSH as the National College Director for PUSH Excel. She has worked as the Youth Pastor at Morgan Park UMC in Chicago, as an educator in the DC Public Charter Schools.
Rev. Michele holds a Master of Divinity degree (Theta Alpha Kappa) from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Howard University in Washington, DC (Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude); and a Certification in Non-Profit Management from Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.
Wedded to both the church and the academy, as an extension of her pastoral ministry, Rev. Michele is working toward the completion of her PhD at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in the area of Theological, Historical, and Ethical Studies. Her dissertation research focuses on constructing a holistic understanding of Christian salvation that is both spiritually and materially redemptive, particularly in a culture of violence.
Rev. Michele is married to Rev. Marlan D. Branch, an Associate Minister of St. James AME in Chicago, IL whom she proudly confesses as her soul mate and life partner in ministry. Rev. Michele is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.