Dr. Vanessa Wainwright Dantzler Ussery is the daughter of the Sherman Walter Wainwright and Sylvia Tolbert Wainwright. She is the eldest of three children; her sister Pamela Faye Martin and brother, Sherman Walter Wainwright II. She was saved at the tender age of eight and is the third generation of a long line of men and women who were trailblazers in the early days of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. (PAW).
When Dr. Ussery left home to attend college her parents admonished her to observe Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Currently Emeritus Pastor, Dr. Ussery is the former Senior Pastor of Apostolic Faith Home Assembly, Inc. (better known as "Home Assembly"). This church is the oldest apostolic church in Los Angeles affiliated with the international organization, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. Dr. Ussery's appointment as Senior Pastor marked an historic occasion for the Home Assembly, as she is the first female to pastor the "mother" church. However, in consideration of the lineage of this woman of God the appointment seems extremely apropos.
While attending Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California, the Lord allowed the paths of two young people to cross, resulting in the union of Dr. Vanessa to Dr. Gregory Rochelle Dantzler. They were joined in holy matrimony on February 14, 1976 and to this union they were blessed with one son, Gregory II. "Doc" as he was affectionately called by family and members of the Home Assembly, passed away and entered into God's eternal rest on Wednesday, February 4, 2004. He was truly a man of God that expressed a great love for his wife, family and God's people. His legacy continues through the AFHA Nutrition and Physical Activity Program and the annual "Dr. Gregory R. Dantzler 'Master Your Health' Golf Tournament" held the 2nd Monday in April.
On Saturday, May 12, 2007 Dr. Vanessa and Charles Blakey Ussery, Jr. were married in Dana Point, CA in the presence of their immediate family. Charles is a committed man of God and is a devoted husband to his bride. A graduate of the University of Southern California (USC), he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration. Prior to earning his degree, Charles was a member of the Trojan's 1978 National Championship Team and played as a starting defensive
lineman during his 4 years at the prestigious institution. After college he played professional football in the United States Football League for the LA Express and transitioned to the National Football League for the Los Angeles Rams until suffering a career-ending injury. Since 1989 he has served in the aerospace industry and is currently employed with American Airlines in Aerospace management. Charles gives all the credit to the Lord for blessing him to meet his lovely wife and enjoys sharing the story of how they met.
Dr. Ussery, a graduate with honors of George Washington Preparatory High School, holds a Bachelors
of Art degree in Psychology from Occidental College and a Bachelors of Religious Studies from Aenon Bible College. She has also received an honorary doctorate in Theology from Aenon Bible College, Indianapolis, IN. During her time as a faculty member of Aenon Bible College, Dr. Ussery taught courses in church administration, church history, public speaking, English composition and church worship. During Suffragan Bishop's tenure as President of Aenon Bible College, she served as the school Business Administrator. When Bishop Benton opened New Life School of Ministries, she served as the Administrator and taught several different courses offered.
God called Dr. Ussery to the ministry of preaching as a teenager and she preached her first sermon at youth service on Tuesday night in 1970. She became a licensed minister in 1980 and was ordained in 1992. She has been a faithful member of this church since September 1965. The odyssey with the church's leadership began for her in 1980 when Dr. Ussery accepted the position of personal secretary
to the then Senior Pastor, G. Grady Benton. She served in this capacity until her promotion as Senior Pastor. She was also promoted within her tenure as Business Manager and Youth Director. By 1989, she had become the Executive Minister which required her to assume duties not only related to the finances of the church, but also those related to spiritual programs and activities.
In August 1993, she expanded her role in the spiritual leadership of Home Assembly when she was chosen by God to be the vessel to succeed Emeritus Pastor Benton. She continued to work faithfully in spearheading the project which resulted in the development of the G. Grady Benton Educational Complex. In addition, she remained active in all her church administrative duties, such as office manager, finance manager and church membership maintenance. On June 9, 1998, Suffragan Bishop G. Grady Benton officially passed the mantle to Dr. Ussery at an installation service officiated by Bishop Henry L. Johnson, Diocesan of the California District Council.
During her tenure at Home Assembly Church, she developed an agenda that included the church's motto "CHANGE: Come Have A New Growth Experience" (a registered trademark of Apostolic Faith Home Assembly, Inc.). This motto led her to establish Celebrate Change Ministries in 2010, under which she continued to follow God's lead into expanded boarders and an extended reach to encourage, enlighten and empower more people.
On October 14, 2011, Home Assembly Church hosted a Retirement Celebration for Dr. Ussery where she celebrated having served more than a quarter of a century at Home Assembly; 18 of those years under the leadership of the late Suffragan Bishop G. Grady Benton. December 31, 2011, Dr. Ussery officially transitioned to becoming Emeritus Pastor for Home Assembly Church.
January 16, 2015, Dr. Ussery achieved yet another historic milestone by becoming one of the first female Suffragan Bishops in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. when was installed by Bishop Robert T. Douglas, Sr. at the first gathering of the Central California District Council held in Los Angeles, CA.
Dr. Ussery is available for Leadership Training, Seminars, Retreats, Conferences, Special Events and Celebrations, Organizational Planning, Worship Services, Church Administration Training, and more. To book her for your event, activity or service, please call (866) 232-8176 or email Info@CelebrateChange.org.
Her maternal grandparents were the late District Elder Lambert Tolbert, Sr. and Evangelist Claudia Tolbert, deceased. They were both saved in their early teens and joined in Holy Matrimony by the late Bishop G. T. Haywood, the first Presiding Bishop of the PAW. Her great-grandparents were Elder James and Sally Tolbert who in the early days of the PAW traveled extensively establishing churches throughout the country. Growing up it was her parents aim to train their children to be dedicated to God, so the home atmosphere was one of prayer and holiness.