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June 19, 2021
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Historically-black church in Raleigh setting example for an African christian identity – Evangelical News Service

Black Madonna African Christian Identity

Christianity’s legacy of white supremacy in the Americas and colonialism in continental Africa implicates it in a racism that continually leaves peoples of African descent in disadvantage. As such, it is true that the continued presence of European images of God, formation materials, clergy and teachings in churches dominated by African worshippers serve more to encourage racist white supremacy and distort in the black worshippers the consciousness of the divine image in them. Is it time then for African Christianity to critically face the all-important question of how the use of white European images, narratives, and concepts of the divine beings contribute in shaping in African peoples a mindset that is subservient to white leadership in everything  while attaching less value to things African?

One of the great moments in 11-year-old Arri Davila’s life was hearing prayers of thanksgiving for the beauty of dreadlocks – hair like hers – at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. “They were talking about blessing people with locks, and me and my sister were really happy. It was very comforting because when we are at my mom’s church, we are the only two brown-skinned people there,” Davila told Episcopal News Service recently.

St. Ambrose, a historically Black congregation founded in 1868 on the city’s southeast side, intentionally incorporates Afrocentric icons and art, lively jazz-inspired music and inclusive prayers. The church also gives permanent recognition – even on needlepoint kneelers – to Raleigh native Anna Julia Cooper, the Rev. Pauli Murray, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and other Black Americans who are commemorated in The Episcopal Church’s calendar of saints, as a way to “disrupt,” or separate, Christianity from a legacy of white supremacy, said the Rev. Jemonde Taylor, rector.

Read the full article titled, Historically Black Raleigh church emphasizes African American and African culture at its essence | Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles, California.

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