When Mr. [David] Dyson announced his retirement in 2011, a committee was formed to find someone to fill in during the arduous process ”” involving exhaustive surveys and self-examination ”” of finding a permanent pastor. The Session, 15 people elected by the congregation, chose Ms. Mason-Browne and gave her the standard contract for a one-year term. It was later renewed for a year.
Many saw parallels between the pastors. “Both have big personalities,” Joy Bell, a member since 1997, said. “Both are well read, well educated and demonstrate what Christianity should be about.”
But when her contract came up again at the end of 2013, the Session declined to renew it. With that, the number of black female pastors, like Ms. Mason-Browne, leading Presbyterian congregations in New York City dropped to five, though minorities are close to half of church members citywide. Nationally, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is 90 percent white.