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Celebrating Black History Month

Feb 16, 2011
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary will celebrate Black History Month with a series of events dedicated to generating greater awareness of the historical struggle of the African American community and identifying significant moments of reconciliation and progress.

Sponsored by Louisville Seminary’s Black Church Studies Program, the Cultural Diversity Committee, and the student-led Women at the Well (WAW), all of the events comprise contributions from faculty, staff, students, and friends of Louisville Seminary.

“Black History Month is a time not only to celebrate but also to re-learn lessons from history that should never be forgotten,” said Dr. Lewis Brogdon, director of the Black Church Studies program and associate director of Recruitment and Admissions.

“One of the core commitments of the Black Church Studies Program is to draw upon this history in ways that illumine contemporary issues and challenge us to work toward a more just and relevant witness of the gospel,” he added.

Louisville Seminary is honoring Black History Month in ways that engage the campus and the wider community.

As part of a campus focus, daily messages depicting black history moments are sent to members of the Seminary community by email. Coordinated by Carolyn Cardwell, instructional technology administrator and member of the Cultural Diversity Committee, the emails highlight important persons, events, and movements that had a profound impact on this country. Each day, images, video clips, quotes, poetry, and news clips, to name a few, are being shared to encourage interaction with the content.

Professor of New Testament Susan Garrett initiated the “Black History” emails four years ago as part of the Cultural Diversity Committee’s efforts to educate the campus community. Today, topics are suggested by members of the Seminary community. For example, on February 2, Lucy Terry Prince (1724 – 1821) was featured. Although best known as the author of the first published poem composed by an African American woman, Lucy Terry Prince was a remarkable woman whose many accomplishments included arguing a case before the Supreme Court. On February 5, an email noted that many blacks in the former slave states were not allowed to officially marry. As a result, one of the jobs of the Freedman’s Bureau was to collect information on marriages that had been performed between slaves and create marriage certificates for them. Examples of these records were included in the email, and one could see how long marriages existed before they were officially recorded and recognized.

For a more in depth experience, Dr. Brogdon will lead a weekend seminar on the history of the Black Church in America, with an introductory study of enslaved Africans’ encounter with Christianity in America, the emergence of slave religion, the establishment of the first African or black Christian churches in America, and the debate over the Bible and slavery. This event is part of the Black Church Studies curriculum in the certificate studies program, and Master of Divinity and Master of Arts (Religion) concentration.

The weekend program is open to local clergy and lay leaders and will run Friday, February 18, from 6 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, February 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the Seminary campus. Lunch is included with $25 on-site registration. Call Dr. Brogdon for reservations, 502.992.9374.

On Tuesday, February 22, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. students, staff, and faculty will gather in the Winn Center Lobby to read African American poems, sermons, speeches, narratives, and other writings, as part of the Annual African American Read-In. Each year participants lend their vibrant voices, love for diversity, and desire to read words from African Americans throughout history. That evening, Women at the Well will lead the first-ever childrens' African-American Read-in from 5:30-6:30 p.m. for children of students and employees. The weekly Campus Kids event will focus its program on African American literature that will be read by Master of Divinity students Dawn Ellicott-Clinkscale and Sonja B. Williams.

Special chapel services, celebrating the African American worship experience, will also be offered Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, February 23, 24, and 25. Speakers will include Dr. Derrick Miles, Pastor Greater Friendship Missionary Church; Rev. Dawn Ellicott Clinkscale (MAMFT 2012), Co-Chair Women at the Well; and Rev. Kilen Gray (MDiv ’02), Seminary Dean of Students and Pastor of the New Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Chapel is held at 11:30 a.m. each day in the Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel on the Seminary campus. The public is invited to attend.

Following chapel on Wednesday, February 24, Dr. Debra Mumford will lead a panel discussion regarding the ongoing debate sparked by Eddie Glaude’s article, which states, “The Black Church is dead.” Mumford, the Frank H. Caldwell Assistant Professor of Homiletics, will invite participants to reflect on whether recent developments in the Black Church—such as prosperity preaching, clergy misconduct, the continuing exclusion of women ministers (pastors), and increasing numbers of blacks in predominantly white churches—signal the church’s irrelevance and demise. This event will be held in the Seminary’s Winn Center.

Louisville Seminary is located at 1044 Alta Vista Road. For more information, please call 502.895.3411 or 800.264.1839.

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