Missouri Synod Church in Downtown Memphis

In Case You Missed Black History Month

black_history_monthThroughout the month of February, we highlighted the relationship of Trinity Lutheran Church and Missouri Synod, with African-Americans and other peoples of color. For instance, Trinity’s pastor was asked to lead the dedication of Missouri’s first African-American church in Little Rock, AR in 1876, just eleven years after the close of the Civil War and how Trinity helped start the first Lutheran church in Memphis headed by an African-American minister and helped run a parochial school in Memphis, set up exclusively for black students. We looked not only at the history of long ago, but recent history as well.

We took a look at the how African-Americans have played a vital roll in the ministry of the Lutheran church as well as focus on some of the ministry focused on People of Color (not all Blacks are American, nor are they all from Africa).

We started with the story of Rosa Young,  a woman who dedicated her whole life to educating the poor and spreading the Good News of Christ’s salvation.

Then a report on Immanuel Lutheran College, an institution started in 1907 to education black teachers and ministers.

Rev. Roosevelt Gray serves as director of LCMS Black Ministry, a historic LCMS ministry that serves predominantly black communities and African immigrants. He provides leadership and direction for LCMS districts, congregations, schools and related organizations as they minister to minority groups in their communities. He has written a commentary for Black History Month that looks back at the history of the LCMS’s long involvement in ministry to the African-American community as well as a look forward to the challenges ahead.

The first Black Lutheran congregation was started in nearby Arkansas. It was the beginning of a strong push to build mission congregations among the newly emancipated slaves on the South. The program met with a great deal of success, but changing times, changing attitudes, and neglect caused most of the early gains to disappear. Read how the mission program got started, and where it hopes to go from here in this reprint of an article from Lutheran Witness.

A fascinating bit of history is what happened to Trinity’s pastor, Rev. Henry Sieck, when he was going to Little Rock to preach at the dedication of St. Paul Colored Lutheran Church. While he was away, almost half of his congregation died, and he was nearly thrown in jail. His diary gives a look at a the terrible tragedy that befell Memphis.

And finally, we shine a spotlight on one of Trinity’s most active African-American families. Those who knew Ms.Vienna Stovall, knew what a kind and gracious lady she was. It was not by accident that she raised outstanding children. Today Ms. Vienna’s legecy lives on in her daugher Cynthia, Cynthia’s sister Donna, and Donna’s son Zachery.