Black History Month…and church?

It’s February 1st, which means Black History Month has arrived. I know that February is Black History Month, and I also grew up going to church. However, since I’m white, in my life those two things have never related to each other.

I found out today that’s not the case if you grew up in an African-American church.

I work in an office next to Dena Nash, one of our worship leaders. She happens to be African-American, and she doesn’t mind helping this white girl understand the culture. She was telling me that Black History Month was always celebrated in her church, and in most African-American churches. I thought it was a little strange to mix history and church, so I asked her why. Her answer was illuminating:

So much of our history was left out in school. The history of our culture – if it was going to be learned – was learned in the church. In the African-American community, the church was really the social, political, educational hub…The pastor was a leader. There wasn’t any other place in the community for an African-American to be a leader – or really even anything else. The church was a place for people to have dignity and worth.

Dena told me that the church would celebrate by hanging posters of notable African-Americans around the building, and that the children would always do a program. Barbara Scorza, our director of operations at FN, had very similar experiences in her church. She told me that she used to help with the skits, and that lots of learning took place in the rehearsals. “The kids learned lines about strong historical African-Americans, but then in rehearsals we would really have the chance to talk about those people. Sometimes we would discuss one person and then assign everyone a different person to research for the next time we met.”

Barbara said that they always tried to pick people to learn about who had contributed something not just to the African-American community, but to the world. “We wanted to tell them about people who had accomplished something who they had never heard of. It was a way for us to tell them, ‘You have the potential to be who God designed you to be. Even if you never get the credit, you can make a real difference in the world.'”

I would think that is what we would all – black or white – like for our children to know. Now, this tradition that seemed strange to me makes so much sense. And so, we are going to join into that tradition at FN by celebrating Black History Month on this blog. We’d like to highlight some people, history, and culture around here, and we’d love for you to weigh in. Got an idea? Leave a comment.

I’m looking forward to learning more…


Sarabeth Jones is on staff as a part of the arts team at Fellowship North, where she gets to work in many different creative areas. She is married to Bryan and has 3 kids: Elizabeth (14), Jonathan (13), and Will (10). She blogs at the dramatic, and thinks she is pretty darn funny on the Twitters.

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