Director of Social Entrepreneurship
Rev. Darnell Fennel has extensive nonprofit management experience and a track record of planning and leading initiatives that have consistently flourished. He is the founding and executive pastor of Just Love, a Disciples new church whose members are advancing intersectional justice in Houston, Texas. While pastoring, he served as a faith community organizer for Faith in Texas (a PICO affiliate) and the Texas Freedom Network. As an organizer regional director, Fennell built relationships with clergy and congregations across many faiths, provided training, managed teams, and led congregations to action around racial, LGBTQ+, economic, and immigrant justice. He received his Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Houston.
In this role, Fennell supports NBA’s efforts to equip and support Disciples who are starting innovative, forward-leaning ministries of compassion and care in their own communities. This includes encouraging social entrepreneurship and administering the NBA Incubate Initiative. He will join Larry J. Morris, III, NBA Incubate Program Associate, in imagining and implementing an expansion of NBA’s work with social entrepreneurs of faith while also maintaining the strong infrastructure of support already present in the Incubate Initiative. He is based in Houston, TX.
Getting to know Darnell
Why do you feel "called to care" about Disciples health and social service ministry?
I feel “called” to care as caring is a part of my core values rooted in my theology. Even before I had faith language to articulate my call to care, I had an example of care displayed in my parents and grandmother. My family taught me that we were always called to car. Our home was often an unofficial health and social service ministry, whether my parents were helping someone in need or my grandmother, a nurse, was seeing after someone’s health. It was modeled for me at a young age that we are called to care for one another as we are all interconnected.
Who is a hero of yours, and why?
I have many men and women who I consider heroes. One of my earliest heroes is Martin Luther King Jr. As a child, I was amazed that a preacher had played such a pivotal role in society. I am moved by his prophetic voice and his willingness to put his self on the line in hopes of my just and loving world. The most heroic part of his narrative is knowing that he had intentions on being a professor but his call to care moved him to be apart of one of the most powerful movements in American history.
If I tried to find you in a supermarket, what aisle would you be in?
This is not a difficult question at all. You would find me on the aisle with the cookie dough. One of my guilty pleasures is eating warm chocolate chip cookies. They are good for the soul.