REV LESTER J. DRAYTON, JR.
Rev. Lester J. Drayton, Jr. is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and pastor of Chappelle Memorial AME Church in Columbia, South Carolina, He also served Greater Saint Paul AME Church in West Columbia, South Carolina and William AME Church in Lexington, South Carolina as pastor.
He was born in New York City to Elder Lester J. Drayton, Sr. and the late Evangelist Harriet Drayton. He lived there for eight years before relocating to Georgetown, South Carolina with six brothers and two sisters. He attended public schools in Georgetown County and graduated from Georgetown High School in 1989. He then served three years in the United States Marine Corps and fought in the first Persian Gulf War in 1991. He earned his bachelor’s degree in religion from Allen University in 2004, graduating summa cum laude. In August 2009, he received his Master of Divinity degree from Columbia International University. He is a certified Bible teacher with the Association of Christian Schools International and holds four units of clinical pastoral education.
He attended church all his life and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior at the age of nine. He served in the music ministry under his father, who was also his pastor. His gift in music has afforded wonderful opportunities to work with J. Dibbs, a multi-talented music producer, and with such national recording artists as Aaliyah, Kenny Lattimore, Keith Washington, and his favorite Gospel group, The Winans. His personal relationship with God carried him through those years. While he was recording with The Winans, the Lord redirected him to prepare for his call to the ordained ministry.
Rev. Drayton has served the community through his work with the following organizations: the Lexington School District Four Community Literacy Partnership, the Lexington County Sheriff Department, the Nehemiah Project, the Comprehensive Health Education Board Advisory Committee for School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties, the School Improvement Council at Dutch Fork Elementary School, Lexington Interfaith Community Services and the Lexington County Ministerial Alliance. His ministry as a chaplain has afforded him the opportunities to serve at the Lexington Medical Center in the Department of Pastoral Care and a resident chaplain in the Clinical Pastoral Education Program at formerly known Palmetto Health Hospital Systems (Baptist, Parkridge and Richland). He currently serves as a senior clinical chaplain for the South Carolina Department of Corrections at Broad River Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison for men that includes death row. As a member of the Columbia Annual Conference, he is a member of the Board of Examiners, teaching third-year students.
As a pastor, Rev. Drayton is one who fears God and loves His people. He teaches with passion, preaches with power, and loves to worship; yet he maintains a spirit of humility. He refers to himself as an “addict to the word of God” because his life is so dependent on it. He summarizes his life with Galatians 2:20, which states, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
Rev. Drayton is married to Mrs. Sonia Drayton, a wonderful accompaniment in the ministry and is equally capable of delivering the word with power. They have been married for almost 24 years and have four children; Samantha, Traci, Jasmine, and Lester III.