02.03.21 | Racial Justice
Black History is American History
As Christians, intentionally celebrating Black history in our congregations can be a meaningful part of our journey toward reconciliation, discovering common ground and the gifts inherent when we are unified in Christ, and celebrate the gifts of diversity. Furthermore, it can help us understand our heritage as Christians better.
As the Rev. Vance P. Ross said, "The church originated amongst subjugated people, a terrorized and oppressed community struggling to live out -- with integrity and dignity -- their relationship with God.
The history of black people in America parallels the history of the church of Jesus in many ways: enslaved ancestors, governmental persecution, murdered leaders, systemic poverty, civil exclusion. Yet, from these social and religious maladies emerge heroic personalities and faith stories that have enhanced, undergirded, emboldened, and enlightened the history of this nation and the work of the church.
In February and beyond, black history speaks the power of God in Jesus. This continued, the ever-evolving story shows the spirit at work and can in-spirit the local church towards Kingdom work. Black History informs Church history. It is church history. When we mine its depths, it can model grace, deepen faith and encourage ministries. Empowerment is always needed by the Church. black History can and will show us that empowerment."
Please share your favorite traditions, writers, and ideas so we have a well-rounded resource with ideas to celebrate Black History Month with your congregation and community. Here are a few to get you started:
- The Commission on Religion and Race encourages churches to view heritage months and special days as jumpstarts for diversity work. Learn more.
- Learn more about the history of Black History Month.
- Bishop Swanson encourages "churches not to simply celebrate Black History Month in isolation from our relationship with the Risen Christ." Learn more.
- United Methodist Women have several resources for celebrating Black History Month. Learn more.
- Discipleship Ministries shares resources including a theme, Unnatural Disasters: The Stony Road to Hope, a sermon series for Black History month rooted in spirituals and more. Learn more.
- A lenten blog/study inspired by #BlackLivesMatter and designed to prompt action during Holy Week. Learn more.
- A collection of easily shareable images and quotes for social media may be found at Black Then: Discovering Our History.
During Black History Month, we pause to celebrate and honor the achievements of Black people, their culture and heritage, their contributions to the formation, evolution and sustainability of this nation, the heros they are both past and present, and the beauty that threads those pieces together.
Resources for Worship
African Worship Book
True to our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary
Bulletin Inserts, Sermons and Other Materials
Theological Works by Black Theologians, Pastors and Scholars
History and Culture
African American History and Culture - African American History and Culture Museum
African American Distinctive Destinations and Collections
National Civil Rights Museum
Reginald Lewis Museum
The King Center
The Ella Baker Center
Equal Justice Initiative
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
The Black Church: The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song - A WTTW Screening and Community Conversation, Feb. 9, 2021
Sermons and Equipping
African American Lectionary
Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Encyclopedia of American American Christian Heritage
Preaching with Sacred Fire, Anthology of African American Sermons
UMC Black Church, Education, and Advocacy
Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century
The Black College Fund, Support 11 Black Colleges, and Universities
Caste, The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
For Mental Health: Learning to Be, by Juanita Rasmus
To understand the stories of Black People: Crossing the Danger Water: Three Hundred Years of African American Writing
For Next Steps: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community