Black History Month 2024

The month of February is a significant month for many reasons in our country, one of which is that we get to celebrate Black History Month. As followers of Jesus, it is an opportunity for us to recognize and appreciate the incredible diversity that God has created in the world. Acts 17:26 reminds us that God has made every nation of mankind from one man, and Revelation 5:9 reminds us that Jesus has redeemed people from every tribe, language, people, and nation through his sacrifice.

In recent years, our church community has been blessed with increased diversity, and we are grateful for the Lord's kindness in this regard. As we continue to grow together, we have become more aware of the importance of having open and honest conversations that lead to healing and deep friendship. This journey has made us a better church, and we welcome Black History Month with joy, respect, and celebration.

During this significant month, we take time to remember, honor, and gain a deeper understanding of the many African-American saints who have played crucial roles in shepherding God's people and bringing honor to His name throughout history. As I have spent time in the past year broadening the scope of preachers to whom I listen, one particular saint seized my attention … Reverend Dr. Gardner C Taylor. I have listened to his sermon “Our Great Savior” several times. If you ever want to be inspired and encouraged, put it in your Google search and sit back and listen to this eloquent and masterful preacher.

Reverend Dr. Gardner Calvin Taylor, celebrated preacher, scholar, and former pastor of The Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, NY, was born in Baton Rouge, LA, on June 18, 1918. In his early years, he was a part of the fellowship of Mount Zion Baptist Church, where his father served as pastor and where, years later, Dr. Taylor would also serve. After finishing at Leland College in 1937, Dr. Taylor earned his Bachelor of Divinity at the Oberlin School of Theology. In addition, he was awarded numerous honorary doctorate degrees throughout his ministry.

In 1948 Dr. Taylor was called to pastor The Concord Baptist Church, one of the most influential Christian churches in America. During this time, notoriety spread as he preached nationally and internationally, lectured, and served as president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. Dr. Taylor lectured at numerous seminaries and served at Concord Baptist Church until his retirement in 1990.

Known as "The Dean of American Preachers," he was a mentor and close friend to Martin Luther King Jr. and was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. He preached the sermon for President William Jefferson Clinton in 1993 and, in 2000, was awarded the nation's highest civilian honor by President Clinton, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Over 2000 of Dr. Taylor's sermons are archived at the Robert W. Woodruff Library in Atlanta, GA. On Resurrection Sunday, April 5, 2015, Dr. Taylor breathed his last breath and went home to be with the Lord at the age of 96. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have been impacted by the Gospel through his preaching and teaching.

So, as we walk into this second month of 2024, we remember and honor our brothers and sisters of African descent who lived their lives with the aim of helping all of us see, understand, and love our great Savior who sees, understands, and loves us first. May we continue to strive to be a church that is known for our unity in diversity as we help others find and follow Jesus. May God get all the glory!

Rob McDowell

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