Passions in a Pastor’s Wake–Lafayette Ave. Presbyt. Church does not renew Interim's Contract

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.

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