Wallace O. McLaughlin, M.Div., Ph.D., is a native of Fort Valley, Georgia. He was born the 13th child to the late Reverend Jordan D. McLaughlin and Mary Alice Mclaughlin. Early, his faith was formed in his home and at Usher’s Temple C.M.E. Church. At the age of 13, Dr. McLaughlin accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and joined church under the pastoral leadership of Rev. E. L. Green, following his father’s death. Some months later, while mulling over why his classmates came to him for advice and what to tell them, he heard God tell him to take His Word as authority for any advice or counsel he would give. This was the beginning of his spiritual, academic, and professional journey of faith. During high school, he was actively involved in the youth ministry at his church. He served as president of the Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF) and president of the youth choir. While in college, he spoke at local churches for Youth Day around the state. He was appointed by Bishop Joseph C. Coles to serve on the 6th Episcopal District Board of Christian Education for the CME Church.
Immediately upon graduation from the University of West Georgia, Dr. McLaughlin was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. In 1991, he resigned his commission as Captain after serving 12 years on active and reserve duty. He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service. While serving in the military, Dr. McLaughlin answered his calling and was ordained as a minister in the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. He served as an associate pastor for youth and young adults in churches in Fort Meade, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Boston, Massachusetts. He also served as a campus minister at the Wesley Foundation (United Methodist Church), Purdue University and pastor at Grace Memorial CME Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. He founded and served as pastor of Imani Community Church for 23 years with a particular emphasis on young urban fathers and their families. He has traveled extensively and done missionary work in Haiti, Brazil, and Ecuador.
For 28 years, Dr. McLaughlin served as the founding President/CEO of the Fathers and Families Center. Under his visionary leadership, the agency manifested into one of the largest non-profit organizations in the country that concentrates primarily on fatherhood. During his tenure at the agency, he received numerous awards attesting to his leadership and service to the community such as the Stew Wood Youth Advocacy Award for outstanding youth advocacy in the community, the Greater Indianapolis NAACP Humanitarian Award, the Jefferson Award, and the Center of Leadership Development’s Minority Achievers Award in recognition of outstanding public service. Dr. McLaughlin received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of West Georgia in 1978, the Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1986, the Doctor of Philosophy degree from Purdue University in 1993, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Christian Theological Seminary in 2023. He is a board member of the Indianapolis chapter of the 100 Black Men and serves as the chaplain, and a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is married to his lovely wife, Karla of Toronto, Canada by way of Kingston, Jamaica, and they are the proud parents of one son, Jackson Karl McLaughlin.
First Lady Karla Ann Elizabeth Hay McLaughlin, M.S. – was born in Kingston, Jamaica and grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada where she was confirmed in the faith at St. Brides Anglican Church. She began serving the Lord as a teenager teaching Sunday School. She has done just about everything in the church except sing in the choir. At Covenant, she is a faithful co-laborer in ministry with her husband, Pastor Wallace. She leads the Women’s Bible Study and Fellowship, Coordinates the Walk to Jerusalem and serves as the Director of Christian Education. As a recovering “Martha,” she renewed her interest in her hobbies of sewing, baking, reading, and walking. Outside of church, she is employed at IUPUI in the Division of Undergraduate Education and serves on the Board of Commission at St. Monica’s School. Karla received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada and master’s degree from Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana.