February is Black History Month. Last Sunday morning I read over some reasons, written on Meridian Hill DC pastor Duke Kwon’s social media post, why we ought to intentionally observe and celebrate Black History Month at Redemption Church.
To deepen fellowship with our black Christian sisters/brothers by honoring their family stories, learning about the historical and cultural contexts that shape who they are.
To cultivate cross-cultural skills in order to love our black local neighbors more genuinely and more effectively; after all, we cannot love our neighbors well without knowing their stories and without sharing a “common memory” of the past.
To learn more of the all too neglected history of the Black Church, recognizing that Black Church History is Church History.
To model the gospel ethic of mutuality/interdependency by esteeming a subdominant culture—historically, one devalued/subjugated even in/by the Church—celebrating its people and achievements and witnessing its vast potential to fortify the ministry and mission of the Church.
To grow in repentance for corporate sins committed against Black people, often in the name of Christ—sins past and present, of commission and omission—as a necessary step toward true reconciliation and interethnic unity in the Church.
I would add, for Redemption Church, that as we are praying to be a diverse community of believers representative of our community, celebrating and observing Black History Month intentionally is a practical step, however small, in that direction.
Therefore we are doing a couple of things this month with intention.
First, we have asked a couple of our African-American friends to join us in continuing to preach through the book of Acts. We highly value their voice and perspective, and we want to deepen our fellowship with them. Here is a quick introduction:
- John Farmer will join us this Sunday, February 11th. John is a pastoral intern at First Presbyterian Augusta, and he is the Paine College Director for Campus Outreach. John and I have been meeting to pray together regularly for several weeks, and he has become a friend and a real blessing to me personally.
- Dante Stewart will be with us on Sunday, February 25th. He is a student at Reformed Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Jasamine, live in Augusta, Georgia, where he teaches Bible at Heritage Academy Augusta. They are members of Crawford Avenue Baptist Church. Dante is a great writer, and he has published several articles – many are recommended below.
Secondly, I want to encourage you to spend some time utilizing a few suggested resources – books, articles, media – to learn about Black History and racial divisions in our culture in order to cultivate your ability to empathize, repent, and love cross-culturally.
There are certainly many more great resources out there, but here are just a hand full of suggestions from myself and others.
Divided By Faith – By Michael Emerson And Christian Smith
United – By Trillia Newbell
God’s Very Good Idea – By Trillia Newbell And Catalina Echeverri
The Genesis Of Liberation – By Emerson Powery And Rodney Sadler
Free At Last? – By Carl Ellis
White Awake – By Daniel Hill And Brenda Salter McNeil
The Witness: A Black Chrisitan Collective “engages issues of religion, race, justice, and culture from a biblical perspective.” There are several resources there worth checking out. Here are a couple by our friend Dante Stewart:
- Singin’ Us to Glory: The Life and Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer
- Jupiter Hammon and the Negro Vision of the Christian Life
Dante has also been published at The Gospel Coalition:
Monét Robinson, also one of Augusta’s own, recently had this excellent article published at Radical.net:
The C&MA posted an old Alliance Life article honoring several African-Americans who “played a significant role in early Alliance history”:
One of the most stirring articles I read last year was written by D.L. Mayfield at Christianity Today:
If you’re more into listening than reading, here are a couple of good podcast recommendations:
Lastly, I recently attended an Acts 29 & Carolina Greenhouse sponsored event called Race, The Church, and The Gospel. Antony Frederick shared a “plea to my brothers and sisters in the faith that lead predominantly white Christian churches, denominations, networks, etc to pursue racial harmony on a “macro” level, with your African-American brothers and sisters.” You can watch the video here: