Honouring the Legacy of Black Canadians in Our Faith Communities

Viola Desmond image

In 1946, Viola Desmond’s stand at a segregated Nova Scotia movie theatre made her into a civil-rights icon for black Canadians.
On Thursday, December 8, 2016, the federal government announced that she’ll be the new face on the Canadian $10 bill in 2018.

Black History Month in Canada celebrates the contributions of Black Canadians to Canadian history and culture. For churches, this annual celebration offers a unique opportunity to honour the legacy of Black Canadians not only in our nation but also in our faith communities. One of the ways churches can celebrate Black History Month is by incorporating art, music, and words (sermons, speeches, poetry, literature) by people of African and Caribbean descent into worship.

One of the ways churches can celebrate Black History Month is by incorporating art, music, and words (sermons, speeches, poetry, literature) by people of African and Caribbean descent into worship.

Ensure Racial Diversity is Modelled and Embraced in Worship

Use Black History month as an opportunity to ensure that the racial diversity of God’s beautiful creation is reflected in your congregation’s worship services. If you aren’t already doing so, invite regular participation in worship from people of all different backgrounds. For Black History Month, put out a special invitation to members of your church or community of African and Caribbean descent to share their knowledge, stories and talents with your congregation.

Organize a Pulpit Exchange

If you are from a primarily African Canadian or Caribbean congregation, offer to do a pulpit exchange with a largely Caucasian congregation. If you are from a church made up of mainly Caucasian members, seek out a congregation that is mostly made up of African Canadian or Caribbean members and ask to do a pulpit exchange. Why not push this further and hold a joint activity after the service?

Feature Music from Black Composers

African-Americans composers in the Book of Praise:

  • Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993), #675, Precious Lord, take my hand
  • John W. Work (1901-1967), #133, Go, Tell it on the mountain
  • David Hurd (b. 1950), #287, O God, whose fire lit the stars
  • Judge Jefferson Cleveland (1937–1986), #108, Praise ye the Lord
  • Melva Wilson Costen (b. 1933), #233, Were you there
  • Wendell Whalum (1931-1987), #648, I’m gonna live so God can use me

African hymns

  • Asithi Amen, #264
  • Siyahamba, #639
  • Thuman Mina, #777
  • Wa wa wa Emimimo, #388

African composers

  • Stephen Cuthbert Molefe (1917–1987), #264, Sing Amen
  • Patrick Matsikenyiri (b. 1937), #514, Jesus, we are gathered

Well known African American hymn writers all churches should know about

  • Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933)
  • Doris Akers (1923-1995)

Sing Black spiritual songs and share the stories behind the music

  • Amazing Grace
  • Take My Hand, Precious Lord
  • Kumbaya My Lord
  • Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Include Art by Black artists and Artwork in Worship

Try this Bing search using the keywords worship, art, African American, or check Black Christian Art on Pinterest.

Visit The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives Online

Read the Archives’ online exhibit of The Story of Rev. William King and the Buxton Mission, a Presbyterian minister who founded a settlement for fugitive slaves fleeing the United States for freedom in Canada. Approximately 1,000 individuals travelled the Underground Railroad to Buxton, finding freedom and the chance at a new life in the settlement.

Learn More about Black History in Canada

Encourage congregation members to visit the Black History Virtual Museum and Treasure Hunt and the Canadian Heritage website to learn about the contribution of Black Canadians to Canadian history.

2017-02-08T16:23:29+00:00 February 8th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Honouring the Legacy of Black Canadians in Our Faith Communities