The Afro-Christian Convention: The Fifth Stream of the United Church of Christ
TUESDAY, MAY 30, 2023
5-6:30 pm EDT
This event will be held live on Zoom with an interactive Q&A
Join us for a virtual discussion with Rev. Dr. Yvonne Delk, Rev. Brenda Billips Square, and Rev. Dr. Henry T. Simmons to celebrate the publication of The Afro-Christian Convention: The Fifth Stream of the United Church of Christ.
The holy stream of African spirituality that flowed across the Atlantic Ocean and up into the tidewaters of Virginia in 1619—the same stream that overflowed into the worship and work of the United Church of Christ—is celebrated and given its long-overdue place in the canon of UCC history by Rev. Dr. Delk and contributors to this important volume.
The story of the Afro-Christian Convention is one of faith, survival, and empowerment in the hostile environment of racism. From 1892 to the 1960s, the Afro-Christian Convention was composed of 150 churches and 25,000 members, located primarily in North Carolina and Virginia. In June 1957, when the founding/merging leaders of the new United Church of Christ processed through Cleveland, representation of the Afro-Christian Convention churches was folded into the representation of the Convention of the South—a 1950s initiative of the Congregational Christian denomination to fold Black churches of the South into a single conference.
But the spirit, worldview, worship, and impact of Afro-Christian Convention churches are not appropriately represented under the banner of the Congregational stream of UCC history, a stream informed predominantly by white perspective. The Afro-Christian Convention, born from the wellspring of independent Black churches with deep African rootedness, is rightly understood—and at last shared—as a unique stream.
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The Rev. Dr. Yvonne V. Delk has served for sixty years as an educator, preacher, organizer, and prophetic voice leading the fight for human and civil rights for people of color, children, and the poor throughout five continents. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for Franklinton Center at Bricks, and lives in Norfolk, Virginia.
Rev. Brenda Billips Square is currently serving as the Director of the Afro Christian Preservation Project of Franklinton Center at Bricks. She is also co-pastor of Beecher Memorial Congregational United Church of Christ in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Rev. Dr. Henry T. Simmons is pastor emeritus of St. Albans Congregational Church in Queens, New York where he served for 28 years as senior pastor. He is currently the chair of the Board of Trustees of Franklinton Center at Bricks.