Pastor Jim Cymbala is a native New Yorker, raised in the borough of Brooklyn. His early love of basketball earned him a scholarship to the University of Rhode Island, where he became captain of the basketball team. After graduation, he immediately entered the business world and, soon after, he married his childhood sweetheart, Carol Joy Hutchins. Though he did not have formal theological training, Pastor Cymbala felt a call to the ministry.
In the early 1970s Pastor Cymbala took over the leadership of The Brooklyn Tabernacle on Atlantic Avenue in downtown Brooklyn. The small, struggling congregation numbered less than twenty people and met in a small, run-down building surrounded by the physical and moral blight of the inner city.
Today Pastor Cymbala oversees a congregation of several thousand people. Many of the inner- city problems are still there, but so is the congregation’s dependency upon the grace of God, who has raised up workers to direct outreach to children, women, men, youth, seniors, the homeless and people in shelters, among others.