The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Samuel
Photo by Kevin Ewing
by Kaeley McEvoy
HARTFORD (08/01/2012) -- On Wednesday, July 26, Hartford welcomed over fifty members of the United Black Christians to celebrate their 20th Convocation. Members of the African American lay and clergy community across the nation gathered to share four days of remembrance, revival, education and worship. Hosted at Faith Congregational Church UCC, Liberty Christian Center UCC, and Hartford Seminary, the UBC Convocation honored of the “preservation of the African American tradition as a people of faith and hope” by affirming and empowering lay and clergy of color within a national setting.
UBC President Carol Brown welcomed the assembled members with a message of hope: “We serve a good God,” she declared, “and we should have no fear in God’s plan for the future.”
Brown added, “If we remember the past, we will learn the lesson that the Spirit has never failed us, lest we forget.”
The Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President of the UCC, followed Brown by delivering a speech on the state of the Church. Black explained that the statistical decline in mainline dominations will be confronted at full force with a strategic vision plan that will include an emphasis on a bold and solidified UCC identity, diverse and prepared emerging leadership, and new ways of ratifying the Church to make it accessible to all who seek the journey.
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Samuel, pastor of Victory UCC in Stone Mountain, Georgia, provided a powerful opening message that brought Faith Congregational Church to its feet with praise that God’s presence is felt amidst the thorns of life. Rev. Samuel affirmed the message, “I reckon, but we know, we know that all things work together for good.” UBC member and Emerging Leader the Rev. Colin Jones of Shaker Heights, Ohio, remarked that the “preaching at the UBC event thus far has been inspiring.” Jones added, “Receiving the gifts of such powerful preachers has inspired me to give more to my own congregation.”
Worshiping during the UBC Convocation
Photo by Kevin Ewing
|Faith Congregational Church UCC in Hartford hosted many of the UBC Convocation events.|
On Thursday, July 26, the Hartford Seminary welcomed UBC members to a presentation by the UCC’s Minister for Public Education, Jan Resseger, and the UCC Minister’s for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, the Rev. Sala Nolan. The two spoke on the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline” among African American youth. They examined the direct correlation between the shortcomings of the institutions that support public education and the drastic increase in the mass incarceration of young people.
Historical tours of the Wadsworth Museum and Amistad Center for Art and Culture allowed UBC members to reconnect with the historical aspects of Hartford’s deep-rooted African American culture on Thursday afternoon. Christian Sanders, an Emerging Youth Leader from Cleveland, Ohio, said, “This experience had made me value the history of my past and therefore help grow in faith towards the future.”
Liberty Christian Community Church hosted the Thursday evening service with a remarkable message preached by the Rev. Tamara Moreland of Liberty Christian Center. Rev. Moreland urged the congregation to “cry out for injustice” and demanded the removal of complacency with the current state of society. The Rev. Imani Jones from Shaker Heights, Ohio, said after Rev. Moreland’s message, “I am proud to be a member of the UCC today. This event has been inspiring and affirming as both an African American and as a woman. It is encouraging to see so many powerful African American woman in leadership roles within the UCC and UBC.”
UBC events continued through Saturday, July 27, with further discussion of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline, honoring recipients of the Dr. Joseph Evans Scholarship, exploration of the history of the Black Church through a lecture by Rev. Valentine Lassiter, and the closing message from the Rev. Jerry Streets of Dixwell Avenue UCC in New Haven, Connecticut.
Kaeley J. McEvoy is a member of First Congregational Church of Woodbury and serving this summer as a Youth and Young Adult Intern for the Connecticut Conference UCC.