25 February, 2010

Black and Reformed History Makers

Selma, Alabama, May 21, 1875: A congregation of black Reformed Presbyterians was organized due to the work of the Central Board of Missions. Twenty-Five members took the covenant of Church membership. This was the outworking of the social justice that Reformed Presbyterian pastors and members sought for the previous 71 years.

This congregation was originally a mission to 'free men'; something that the RP Church worked very hard at through its involvement in the underground railroad, the training of African Americans, even at the collegiate level, and all stemming from the belief that God made the races of the world 'of one blood'.

This congregation would prove to be on the forefront of social justice. In the 1960s, the Marches through Selma were organized out of the manse (Pastor Claude Brown was pastor then). Martin Luther King Jr. was a close friend to this congregation of Psalm singing warriors for civil rights.

But why did the RP Church care? Why did a small denomination of psalm singing Presbyterians care about social justice and care about the plight of the African American? The reason is because in biblical history- we were slaves in the land and God delivered us. The reason is that during the Killing Times in Scotland- the RP Church understood persecution and injustice. The reason is because man is made in the image of God- and in Christ freedom is offered to all men. How can we preach freedom in Christ while enslaving and dehumanizing our neighbors?

The RP Church began fighting for equality of the black man as early as 1802 in this country. We were the second denomination in the United States to denounce the practice of enslaving the African race (the Quakers were the first). Watch this 27 minute video to hear some of that history.

And pray for justice. There are many more battles to fight. We cannot live off of our laurels.

Documentary of McLeod's 1802 "Negro Slavery Unjustifiable" by RPTS from RPTS on Vimeo.

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