Born out of necessity and raised in adversity, the Black Church has always kept the faith and helped the faithful to weather and overcome their challenges, noted Rev. Dr. Stacey Edwards-Dunn, director, Center for African American Ministries and Black Church Studies. How churches meet these challenges is always changing, but the Center’s commitment to helping the Black Church serve its communities remains the same.
Over the past year, social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have restricted in-person gatherings, but the need to connect with words of hope and faith never went away. What has that meant for McCormick’s Center for African American Ministries and Black Church Studies?
“Our commitment to providing relevant theological education programming, both within the seminary or for the community never stopped,” said Rev. Dr. Stacey Edwards-Dunn, director, Center for African American Ministries and Black Church Studies. “Like everyone else, we’ve had to redefine what relevance looks like in today’s context.” This new relevancy includes theological programming that provides prophets, preachers and teachers who speak truth to power, noted Rev. Dr. EdwardsDunn. On Thursday, March 4, Rev. Dr. Alison Gise Johnson, associate professor of Historical and Theological Studies and director of Ministry Programs for the Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, will give the Herstory Lecture. A former member of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, and Covenant United Church of Christ in South Holland, IL, Rev. Dr. Gise Johnson, one of the leading voices in womanist theology and ethics, will speak from the topic, Redeeming the Kiss: A Womanist Perspective on the Relationship Between Justice and Righteousness.
On Good Friday evening, April 2, the Center will host “The Seven Last Words of Christ,” at Chicago’s Pullman Presbyterian Church. Those attending in-person and online will hear from McCormick seminarians who will bring powerful preaching in the African American tradition.
In addition to these upcoming programs, the Center’s Certificate in Black Church Studies offers weekend courses that provide instruction in preaching, leadership, Bible, Black sacred music, administration, pastoral care, ethics, history and theology. The Center also is working to bring practical ministry workshops to the community that will help to equip churches and not-for profit organizations to use the expanding network of technological tools and platforms. “We’re preparing to help church ministries navigate this season, to perform ministry digitally so that they can continue to function during the pandemic,” said Rev. Dr. Edwards-Dunn. “It’s essential that in a time such as this, that we continue to meet the needs of our churches who are in turn, meeting the needs of our communities.”