For a number of years, the celebration of Black History Month has been an important component of our February ministry at MHBC. Led by Mrs. Willie King and her team, we have tried to raise awareness of important historical events, achievements, and noted leaders in Black history. To be sure, the contributions of black men and women to our nation and to the world have been many and varied.
Carlyle Fielding Stewart, an African-American preacher, has written: “We have built some of the greatest monuments in the world and have made some of the greatest discoveries and inventions in the world; We have built highways, byways, and bridges on American soil. We have fought America's wars and won her medals.”
Stewart goes on to write, “While our gifts to America are vast and varied, one of our greatest gifts is our spirituality, for it is the raw material, the vital impetus, the true substance, which has fueled our souls and lives and has sustained us through the trials and troubles of the American experience.”
The way has not been easy. Part of the gift of African-American spirituality of which Stewart writes has been the ability to face, adapt to, and overcome insurmountable odds and hardships through an unswerving faith in God. It is has been said that Martin Luther King, when he needed encouragement, would turn to “Balm in Gilead:” “Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work’s in vain, but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.” King also found comfort in “Precious Lord, Take My Hand;” “Through the storm, through the night,” it goes, “lead me on to the light.”
Black History Month also reminds us of some of the most challenging days in our American History. Ours is a great nation, but a painful part of our history has included cruelty and oppression toward various races of people. Sadly, that cruelty and oppression can still be found in some circles, yet another reason why Black History month is needed. Recalling the sins of the past, but also celebrating the progress that has been made can empower us to continue to work together so that we do not repeat or relive the past. So may it be.
I encourage each member, friend, and regular attendee of Montgomery Hills to participate in the events surrounding Black History Month. As David Mathis writes, “Black History Month is not for them. It’s for all of us.”
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Rev. Dr. Doris Barron-Shell