La Ronda Denise Barnes is a pastor, preacher, professor, author, and theological consultant, espousing a faith of grace, passion, social justice and love. As founding pastor of Affirmation Church, a church without walls, she serves parishioners when and where the need arises. La Ronda is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree and a Master of Arts degree in Practical Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta and serving as an adjunct preaching professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.
She is a graduate of Candler (Th.M and M.Div.), Yale Law School (J.D.), the University of Akron (B.A., English), and the University of Michigan (M.A., Journalism). La Ronda is the author of Wells in the Wilderness: A Journey to Faith and Freedom, which speaks of her spiritual journey. Her academic writing interests include Womanist Christology, Feminist Theology, Homiletics, and Christology and the Arts.
Raised in the Disciples of Christ Church, La Ronda left the institutional church in her pre-teens, converted to Reform Judaism in her mid-20s, and for several years was not involved with any faith community. She returned to the church in her 30s after being invited to an adult Sunday school class by a friend. She subsequently was baptized and, in 2008, answered God’s call to the ministry.
Prior to entering the ministry, La Ronda worked in Atlanta serving as an administrative law judge, appellate court attorney, legal aid attorney, and law professor. She was the first African-American female to be elected as chair of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division in its 75-year history. As leader of the 150,000-member volunteer association, she promoted its public service and professional development programs, headed its legislative assembly, and served as its spokesperson at conferences around the world. La Ronda is an avid traveler and a nature and animal lover who enjoys taking walks, reading, singing, and playing the flute.