Pastor Bernard Penn is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He was born the seventh in a family of eight children. At the age of eleven, he was in introduced to the Adventist church as the result of his attendance at vacation Bible school. In 1974 he, along with his mother and younger sister, were baptized at the Southeast Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cleveland Ohio by Pastor King Smallwood after attending a tent revival.
At the persuasion of some of the members of his church, he enrolled at Pine Forge Academy. It was while at Pine Forge that he felt the call to the gospel ministry. It was here too that he began to appreciate the value and blessing of Adventist Christian education. After graduating from Pine Forge, he enrolled and matriculated at Oakwood College, now Oakwood University. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology with a minor in Social Work.
From 1986-1988, while awaiting an official call, he relocated to Hartford, CT. While in Hartford, he served as a local elder at the Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church. He put his degree in social work to use as he worked for the Salvation Army and the State of Connecticut.
In December 1988, he received a call to join the pastorate of the Northeastern Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. He was assigned as associate pastor of the Ephesus church in New York City. He served in this capacity from 1989-1991. In 1991 he enrolled at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. He completed his Masters of Divinity degree in December 1993. He has continued his studies with post-graduate work in urban ministry.
Pastor Penn's 28 years of service has included the pastorate of the Friendship church in Elmira, NY; the Mount Carmel church in Syracuse, NY; the Community church in Utica, NY, the Shiloh church in Springfield, MA, and most recently the Hope church in Bloomfield, CT.
It was while at Shiloh, that his passion for Adventist education blossomed. Under his guidance a school was started in Springfield, MA in 2003. He also began his first term on the Northeastern Conference K-12 School Board. His passion for Adventist Christian education is well-known around the conference. He has also served on several conference committees over the years such as the Northeastern Conference Executive Committee, Ordination Committee, and the Union Executive Committee. He most recently served as the Ministerial Area Coordinator for the New England south churches.
During his tenure in Springfield, Pastor Penn was asked to serve on the board of Partners for a Healthier Community; a non-profit community based health initiative of Baystate Health Systems. He co-chaired the oral health initiative that focused on providing dental care to all pre-school aged children in the city of Springfield. He was also an ardent supporter of the Brianna Fund for Children with Disabilities whose purpose is to provide needed equipment and services to children with disabilities and their families. While in Connecticut, he served on the board of the Blue Hills Civic Association - a faith-based community outreach organization which is the largest summer employer of youth in the Hartford area.
In 1986, he married to his college sweetheart, the former Karen Bryan. Karen graduated in 1985 from Oakwood University with a B.S. degree in Business Administration and Accounting. While at Oakwood she lead a group of students who pioneered Oakwood's participation in the summer internship program sponsored by the major insurance companies in Hartford, CT. Karen presently teaches business courses on the high school level. Karen is known as a lover of young people and an avid sports fan. They are the parents of two grown children, Brianna and Brian.
Pastor Penn counts the apostle Paul as his favorite Bible character because of his practical approach to ministry.