Elder Russell E. Thornhill is the CEO of the Archbishop Carl Bean Spirituality and Social Justice Legacy Center, home of Unity Fellowship of Christ Church, LA and MAP (Minority AIDS Project).
Elder Thornhill was born and raised in the Bronx, New York where his family currently resides. His teen years were spent in Middletown, Connecticut where he lived with his maternal Grandmother and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School. After graduation in 1972, Elder Thornhill traveled with the international casts of Up With People for four years living with over 200 families on three continents in a student cultural exchange experience. This was the beginning of his life in community engagement.
In January 1990, Elder Thornhill joined Unity Fellowship of Christ Church on Jefferson Blvd. in Los Angeles. He was deeply moved by the affirmation of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender people in a relationship as children of God with an eternal home in the kingdom. On Sunday, April 15, 1990, Resurrection weekend, Elder Thornhill “came out” to his family and was Baptized in the ocean sealing his full acceptance as a Gay child of God thus immersing himself into the work of Unity Fellowship of Christ Church and Social Justice Ministries. After sharing his liberating experience with the Archbishop in the doorway of the church, the Archbishop said, “come in and get to work.” That engagement caused Elder Thornhill to step into the critical and life changing work as a volunteer in the “buddy program” serving people living with HIV/AIDS in South Los Angeles.
Elder Thornhill left his corporate career after 25 years to establish grounding in the cause for justice in the African American LGBT community. He began working at MAP in 2000 as Program Manager for HIV/AIDS awareness among African American same-gender loving men, women and people of Trans-experiences. His work included community engagement with the Los Angeles County HIV planning councils, Gay men’s support network and a host of other community activist activities.
His march for justice stems from the Hebrew scripture of Micah 6:8, “God has told you, humanity, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
His Social Justice enlightenment is nurtured by the radical teachings of Jesus the Christ.
Elder Thornhill earned an MA in Organizational Management (MAOM) from Antioch University, 2018. He also earned an MA in Theological Education from Claremont School of Theology, 2018. Elder Thornhill is on the teaching faculty at Antioch University in the Undergraduates Studies department teaching, Business and Management Studies (Head). He is also the Co-Director of the Antioch University Bridge Program. Elder Thornhill is the Co-Pastor of Unity Fellowship of Christ Church, The Mother Church in Los Angeles, CA. He is the CEO of the newly organized Archbishop Carl Bean Spirituality and Social Justice Legacy Center in Los Angeles, CA which is the new home of MAP and Unity Fellowship of Christ Church.
He has a profound love in study and teaching of liberation theology, progressive thought, and social justice as a platform for biblical freedom and espousing the call of Justice for everyone.
Elder Thornhill is the proud father of four and grandfather of ten baby grandchildren.
“I am honored to be the CEO of MAP and to carry on the legacy that began by our founder in 1982 as he brought this groundbreaking work to Los Angeles and the world. MAP is poised to continue the tradition of making a difference in the lives of People living with HIV/AIDS and those who face issues of addiction and mental health challenges and other maladies that impact the human condition.” RET
Rev. Elder Russell E. Thornhill
Unity Fellowship of Christ Church, Co-Pastor
MAP Chief Executive Officer