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An online conversation on Black Presbyterian churches is slated for Juneteenth


The Office of African American Intercultural Congregational Support will offer the June 19 dialogue

by Layton Williams Berkes | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Heather Mount via Unsplash

Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries has organized a Juneteenth conversation between pastors and denominational leaders about the status and stability of Black Presbyterian churches in the wake of Covid. The conversation will be pre-recorded and then shown online beginning at noon Eastern Time on June 19, Juneteenth, on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Facebook page.

The event is being organized by the Rev. Michael L. Moore, who leads the Office of African American Intercultural Congregational Support. Moore said the conversation will begin with a short presentation from him “recounting the story of the aftermath of the emancipation proclamation and the story of Rev. Garrison Frazier along with other Black clergy who responded to the needs of newly emancipated slaves.”

The Rev. Michael Moore

After being asked about these needs, Frazier, a Baptist minister and formerly enslaved person, said, “The way we can best take care of ourselves … is to have land, and turn it and till it by our own labor … and we can soon maintain ourselves and have something to spare … We want to be placed on land until we are able to buy it and make it our own.”

Moore will explore the concept and ultimate broken promise of “forty acres and a mule,” which evolved in response to Frazier’s statement and similar sentiments.

The Rev. Eustacia Moffett Marshall

After this introductory presentation, Moore will facilitate a conversation between two African American parish pastors and two African American denominational staff. The four panelists are:

The panelists will discuss the current reality of American Christian churches and particularly Black Presbyterian churches, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. The conversation will touch on financial challenges these congregations face as well as possibilities for imaginative and innovative models for financial stability and growth.

The Rev. Hodari Williams

Moore hopes that clergy and congregations who have struggled under declining numbers, loss of staff, and pandemic impacts will find the conversation encouraging and beneficial as they assess their ministries. Reflecting on the realities he sees modern Black Presbyterian churches facing, Moore said, “[It] calls for an effort to re-imagine church funding and financing mission with collective entrepreneurial forms of ministry. These models are nontraditional and no easy task. They are risk-taking. But that is the whole idea of faith.”

The Rev. Carlton Johnson

“While we acknowledge heartache, we also must acknowledge hope,” Moore said. “We hope the dialogue will spark struggling congregations to rethink, reimagine their mission, their buildings, their communities, and the partners as vital entities within their communities for stability and growth.”

Olanda Carr

In addition to being livestreamed at noon Eastern Time on Juneteenth, the presentation and dialogue will be available to watch on the PC(USA) Facebook page afterwards.

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