Church of God Congregations Exalt Christ in Observance of Black History Month
By Carl Stagner
Cultural observances have a long history of providing potent opportunity to enrich the experiences of individuals and families while pointing them to Christ. Church of God congregations celebrating Black History Month recognize not only the inherent value of placing special emphasis on the contributions of Black people to church and society, but also the accompanying chance to glorify God by intentionally entering—with grace and poise—the conversations already taking place in popular culture. Once again this year, through special services, well-articulated messages, music and other arts, media, tradition, community outreach, and food, Church of God congregations of varying sizes and in varying places won’t just let February pass by unacknowledged. With creativity and class, they’re celebrating the special occasion important to all ethnicities, Black History Month.
Over the years, churches have utilized many different means to honor the richness and beauty of Black heritage. Refuge Church of God in Brooklyn, New York, for instance, has referred to the annual observance as a “vital component” on their calendar. Looking back on Februarys past, special music and dramatic presentations have provided a retelling of history through the lens of Black people in America. Not too far down the street, the Church of God of East New York has a lengthy track record of pulling out all the stops every February. Besides dressing in Afro-centric attire and making a point to sing the quintessential, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Pastor Clifton McDowell has explained that they’ve incorporated a “video moment” about Black history into each Sunday morning service through the month.
Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C., looks forward to Black History Month every year. A congregation once led by the legendary Samuel G. Hines, and now led by the living legend Rev. Dr. Cheryl Sanders, the Third Street believers have been known to present a children’s story about people of African descent from Scripture, as well as inviting civic leaders to offer guest presentations about the economic advancement of Black citizens. Also in the northeast, Philadelphia’s New Covenant Church has been known to invite special choirs and theatrical events to their expansive auditorium—events which, through professional artistry, communicate clearly the story of the Black experience in Western culture, the contributions to society, and the challenges and opportunities still factoring into the equation.
In southeast Kansas, a congregation participated and hosted community marches and events. In eastern Kansas, posters have graced the walls of the church with displays of historical and contemporary facts about Black History Month. In the desert Southwest, a Phoenix congregation has celebrated with “soul food” potlucks and pitch-in dinners. In Atlanta, a congregation has been known to dramatically portray Black individuals who have had great success as inventors, scientists, sports icons, church leaders, and much more.
The question is—what is your congregation doing this year? How is your church—regardless of predominant ethnicity or cultural composition—taking time to observe Black History Month? We’d love to know, and possibly share your story. Please fill out our Share the Story form online. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Stay tuned to Church of God social media throughout February for more about Black History Month. Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Pastor Charles E. Cofield Jr. in heritage dress, preaching and teaching during a special celebration at Kansas City Community Church.