In February, 2022, we talked with African American authors and pastors in celebration of Black History Month. Enjoy two on-demand videos with Dr. Eric Mason. Then read the excerpt below and consider how Christian history—God’s kingdom—isn’t a Western invention. Church history is family history.
Dr. Eric Mason is founder and lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship as well as founder and president of Thriving, an urban ministry organization. His books include Urban Apologetics and Manhood Restored.
Trillia Newbell is the author of several books including, A Great Cloud of Witnesses, Sacred Endurance, If God Is For Us, Fear and Faith, and the children’s books, Creative God, Colorful Us and God’s Very Good Idea. When she isn’t writing, she’s encouraging and supporting other writers as the Acquisitions Director at Moody Publishers.
When you open a book about Church history, what do you expect to find in its pages?
Are you expecting to learn about the history of the creeds and the Great Schism? How about the Reformation and the Puritan emigration to North America?
But do you also expect to explore the growth of the African American Church in the face of slavery and its evils? Or how the Negro spirituals shaped—and continues to shape—worship music? What about the ways the Civil Rights movement implored the Church to see the value and dignity God gives each human and reckon with the sins of Christian slaveowners?
We must remember that Christian history—God’s kingdom—isn’t a Western invention but an institution founded by God in the Middle East that spread throughout the entire world.
Furthermore, Scripture has many names to describe the Church, including:
- God’s kingdom (Rev 1:6)
- God’s people (1 Pet 2:10)
- God’s children (1 John 3:2)
- God’s family (Mark 3:34–35)
The implication is simple: Church history is family history.
Our family history tells us where we came from, and if we’re wise, it can help us learn from our ancestors. Just as the people of Israel needed reminders of who they were and where they came from (see the feasts, as one of many examples), so we need to know the stories of our predecessors in the faith—whether their stories leave us joyful, mourning, or longing for justice.
As such, we’re taking the month of February to remember Black history and honor our family—African American men and women who have used their voices to build up the body of Christ.
If you’re thinking, “One month isn’t enough,” then we want you to know this: we agree with you. We can’t possibly cover the myriad ways that the African American Church has served global Christianity in one month, and yet, we’re going to make it a focus this month—and we aren’t ending when February does.
Will you join us?