Pastors & Staff

Reverend Dr. Clarence Hightower

Senior Pastor

Pastor Hightower has served as the  Senior Pastor of True Vine New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Senior Pastor since 2021.  Before then he was pastor at New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church for 16 years.

In addition to this role, he has spent nearly 40 years in the Twin Cities in nonprofit executive leadership.  Currently he is the Executive Director of Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County (CAP-HC).  Prior to this Pastor Hightower served as the Executive Director of Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties for 12 years and 10 years as President/CEO of the Minneapolis Urban League.  He is the author of Claiming the Constitution, and has been a featured columnist for Insight News (“Urban Views”), The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (“The Anti-Poverty Soldier”) and other Twin Cities publications.

In 2002, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU), where he served until 2014.  Pastor Hightower was elected Chair of MnSCU’s Board of Trustees in 2012, the first African American to  hold that distinction.  He is the recipient of The Minneapolis Award, as well as a Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship.

Pastor Hightower earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Southwest Minnesota State University, Master’s Degree in Human and Community Service from George Williams College in Aurora, Illinois.  In 2015, he graduated summa cum laude from Jackson State University, earning his Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education. His most cherished role is a devoted husband to First Lady Beverly Hightower, and proud father of their daughter, Ashley Hightower.

Reverend Jessie Griffin 

Pastor Emeritus

Pastor Jessie Griffin is the oldest active Pastor in Minnesota, leading True Vine Missionary Baptist Church for over 40 years.

He is a certified teacher for the National Baptist Convention and served as President of the Minnesota State Baptist Convention for eight years. He was also Evangelist Coordinator for the Midwest Region of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. In 2013 he received his Doctorate of Divinity Degree from St. Thomas Christian University.

A native of Collingtion, Louisiana, Pastor Griffin has had a huge impact on the state of Minnesota, not only as a pastor but a community member and entrepreneur. In 2019 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota African American Heritage Calendar. He shares his life with his wife Sara and their children Alvin, Earl, Rodney, Sylvia and Derrick and grandchildren.