Congregation stories

Four African-American women address church to honor Black History Month

Four African-American women are taking turns presenting their thoughts to their congregation along Loop Road. Each Sunday this month, these women are speaking briefly about issues important to the black community at Concord AME Zion Church.

“We’re celebrating Black History Month,” said the Rev. Samuel Fulton, AME Zion paster, “but we’re not just celebrating the race. What I told my congregation is we’re bringing forth people influential to the cause. To press forward as a nation.”

On Feb. 5, Bernetta Hardin talked about three greats in black history: Sojourner Truth, the name Isabella Baumfree gave herself, who escaped from slavery to become an abolitionist and women’s rights advocate; Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery to become a leading abolitionist, and Frederick Douglass, who escaped from slavery to become an orator and writer.

Sandra Steen’s talk on Feb. 12 was inspired by the women in the movie “Hidden Figures.”

“I saw them as sassy and bold,” Steen said. “I’m more like Mary, myself. What’s so amazing is that nobody knew how much they contributed until now. It’s an awakening for the young women of today to know they can achieve those kinds of accomplishments.”

On Feb. 19, Mary Turner will address the 1964 incident in Philadelphia, Miss., in which three young men were killed while they tried to register people to vote. On the last Sunday of the month, Tiffany Gordon will talk about the role black churches have played in civil rights.

“I believe it’s important for us to remember where we came from, the people who brought us to this point,” Fulton said. “We have to know where we came from to get to where were going. ... What the mistakes were and what not to do again. There’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears and tribulations we don’t even know about. I think it’s important to remember people who have laid down a foundation for all Americans.”

Black History Month was also on the minds of the church members at Concord Original Church of God, just about 600 feet away from the AME Zion Church.

“I don’t really gear my sermons to Black History Month per se,” pastor Ruby Winton said, “but gear my sermons to how the spirit of God leads.”

Her sermon last Sunday was on prayer. “I think prayer is what has brought our people to this place — our faith in God and our prayers to God. Back in the days of slavery and my forefathers, they prayed a lot,” Winton said.

On Feb. 12, members of both churches gathered at the Farragut Museum for a Black History Month Celebration.

“I’m mindful of the Bible when Moses told the people to keep the Passover,” Fulton said, “to remember who brought us out from Egypt. It’s not only black history. It’s American history.”