Rev. Dr. D. Mark Wilson


Rev. Dr. Doniel Mark Wilson was born the youngest of six children on September 27, 1960, to the proud parentage of a single mother, from whom he learned strong faith in God to dream beyond life’s apparent limitations. He received his early education in his native hometown, Oakland, California, and was graduated from Skyline High School in 1978. Wilson then attended and was graduated Magna Cum Laude from Howard University, receiving a B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in German. While at Howard, he became fluent in German and received a Certificate of Study from the Goethe Institute in Mannheim, Germany. He earned a Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1985, and a Ph.D. in Sociology, from the University of Michigan in 2000. Dr. Wilson is a researcher on topics of religion and social inequality, has conducted multicultural workshops on racism, sexism and homophobia at the University of Michigan, with the American Baptist Churches, USA, and at the 1995 “Kirchentag” (a German international church gathering where some 120,000 Christians came to dialogue on topics of social justice) held in Hamburg, Germany, where he presented a paper on racial justice and social inequality.

Rev. Wilson was ordained as a clergyperson in February 1987, under the dynamic ministry of his mentor Rev. Dr. Charles G. Adams and the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. During his seven-year tenure as Assistant to the Pastor in Youth and Neighborhood Ministries at Hartford, Rev. Wilson’s love for youth and vision of ministry was nourished and greatly inspired. This love and vision has continued to blossom in his current pastorate of McGee Avenue Baptist Church, in Berkeley, California. As pastor of this historic African American congregation, Rev. Wilson’s ministry has centered on the spiritual growth of his members and his passion for social justice in the public arena. Under his leadership the church received its first grant from the City of Berkeley to expand their Food Program and HIV/AIDS Ministry, developed Prison, Domestic Violence, and Recovery Ministries, and worked with the City of Berkeley to build youth programs. Under his leadership, the church also developed a Community Development Corporation, to purchase and redeveloped property to house to house the church’s social action programs. In response to his love for them, the church showed their love in return by embracing him when he was “outed” as a gay man in a local newspaper in 1998. He is considered to be one of the first African American gay men and pastors ever to be “out” in a traditional African American Baptist church. With bittersweet sorrow, Dr. Wilson departed this ministry after eleven-and-a-half years of service, to become the Assistant Professor of Congregational Leadership at the Pacific School of Religion, in Berkeley, California. 

Dr. Wilson has been a participant in several international religious delegations: in Havana, Cuba, in 1985 and Managua, Nicaragua, in 1989; sharing cultural dialogue; his gifts in music, liturgy and preaching; and building global justice and political solidarity with the many of the world’s poor and oppressed. He has served as Northern California Regional Convener of the American Baptist Black Caucus, Chair of the Political Action Committee of the Progressive Baptist State Convention, a board member for the American Baptists Concerned Caucus for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People, a past Board Co-President of the AIDS Project of the East Bay, the President of the HIV/AIDS Interfaith Coalition of the East Bay, a member of the State of California HIV/AIDS Prevention Community Planning Advisory Group, a member of the Berkeley Mayor’s Community Advisory Committee and HIV/AIDS Housing Commission, a board member of the Center for the Common Good, and the California Council of Church’s Impact Board. He has held adjunct faculty positions at Dominican University, Saint Mary’s College (Moraga), and the American Baptist Seminary of the West.  He currently serves as a board member with the Berkeley/Albany YMCA, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and is a Lecturer in the Sociology Department at the University of California at Berkeley.

His honors and awards include Phi Beta Kappa, Howard University, 1981 ; German Academic Foreign Exchange Scholarship, 1981; Who's Who Among American University and College Students, 1982; Mr. Howard University, 1981; Lucy E. Moten Scholarship, 1981, William Stuart Nelson Scholarship, 1982; Delta Phi Alpha (German Honor Society), 1981; Eta Sigma Phi (Classics Honor Society), 1981; Benjamin E. Mays Fellowship, 1983-1985; Edward Hopkins Shareholder, Harvard Divinity School, 1984 ; J.H. Jackson Scholarship, 1984; Billings Preaching Prize, Harvard Divinity School, 1984; Outstanding Young Men of America, 1985; CIC Minority Scholarship, 1988-1990; Michigan Minority Merit Scholarship, University of Michigan, 1990-2000. He is the son of Mrs. Bettie Cheeks-Austin, the proud great-uncle of 25 nieces and nephews, the adopted father of some 200 children whom he inherited from his youth ministry in Detroit, and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

(This bio statement provided by D. Mark Wilson.)

Biography Date: October, 2005


Baptist (American Baptist/USA) | Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (formerly American Baptists Concerned) | Black | AIDS | Clergy Activist | California | Oakland


“Rev. Dr. D. Mark Wilson | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed May 18, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/d-mark-wilson.


“I came to know Pastor Mark as first a visitor and eventually a member of McGee Avenue Baptist Church in Berkeley, California. I will always remember him as funny, warm, immensely talented and remarkably intelligent. Having had a love/hate relationship with church in the past, he helped me discover the liberating love of Jesus the Christ and aided me in deciding to be baptized as an adult. I loved that church and truly loved him. When he was outed by a local paper, I was so impressed by his courage and grace under the pressure of a seemingly overwhelming situation. I currently reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where there are mega-churches on every corner, and yet, I haven't found a church or a pastor more inclusive, more committed to love and justice than Pastor Mark. In my heart, he will always be my pastor.”
 – as remembered by Cheryl Jackson on May 12, 2012

“Mark, as we call him, was one of the first ministers that I came to know personally. He befriended me, invited me to work with him in the youth ministry at Hartford Memorial and officiated at my wedding. Mark was the first person to put in my head this crazy idea about going to Harvard Divinity School. I thought that he was joking; but, he was serious. I earned an M.Div. and Th.M. degree at Harvard, thanks in no small part to Mark's suggestion, support and encouragement.”
 – as remembered by Clarence W. Davis on April 14, 2012

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