by Laura J. Seaman
Black Ministry in the LCMS began in 1877, only 30 years after the Synod was formed. Though the way this ministry operates has changed over the years, the need for it has not. Our early efforts were focused on Lutheran education with the establishment of all-black Lutheran day schools in the south. Concordia College Alabama, Selma, Ala., founded in 1922, holds the distinction as the nation’s only historically black Lutheran college or university.
Central to our Black Ministry efforts today is a focus on sharing the Gospel through acts of mercy by providing assistance, advocacy and networking opportunities for LCMS districts, congregations, schools and organizations seeking to reach out to predominantly black populations. The aim is to touch lives with the Gospel through mercy care. Each year, the Black Ministry Family Convocation provides those involved in Black Ministry with an opportunity to gather, learn and worship together.
“With the cultural movement to the north,” said the Rev. Dr. Frazier Odom, interim director of LCMS Black Ministry, speaking about the growing ethnic diversity in urban centers, “it is incumbent upon us to establish [black] ministries in more cities.”
[quote style=”boxed”]With the growth of ethnic diversity in the U.S., comes an urgency to recruit and train the next generation of black church workers.[/quote]
In the past, the black population in the LCMS has been largely concentrated in the Southern and Southeastern districts, a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade that forced African migration to the U.S. prior to the 19th century. Cultural shifts show that many are moving north for school, jobs and other opportunities.
Odom said that as this shift occurs, the LCMS loses members to other church bodies because it is harder to find a church with a black population.
“One of the objectives of Black Ministry,” said Odom, “is to establish working relationships with African immigrants.” Voluntary African migration was minimal until the 1980s. This present wave of African immigration to the U.S. also greatly impacts the need for Black Ministry, Odom said.
With the growth of ethnic diversity in the U.S., comes an urgency to recruit and train the next generation of black church workers. Many predominantly black day schools in the LCMS have closed, schools that once were feeders for our church work training programs.
Individual Lutherans and congregations can support Black Ministry locally and across the Synod. Here’s how: Pray that God would provide men and women to serve in Black Ministry. Reach out in witness and mercy to your black neighbors, friends and co-workers. White suburban congregations can partner with black congregations in urban centers to strengthen each other in their life together. Your gifts to the Global Mission Fund will provide financial support for Black Ministry efforts across the Synod.
Black Ministry Stats
- 65 black pastors
- 300 congregations
- 1 historically black college
2009 US African Immigrant Stats
- 1.5 million total
- 2/3 from western Africa
- 1/3 reside in New York, California, Texas and Maryland
[do action=”invest” tier1=”Office of National Mission” tier2=”Black Ministry” tier3=”–enter value” budget=”295,687″ email=”email@example.com” givenow=”http://www.lcms.org/givenow/globalmission”/]