Written by Barb Powell
Next week marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time to honor and elevate the many accomplishments of African Americans –– individuals who thought boldly, acted differently, and had the courage to be themselves in the face of any and all adversity.
Today (Jan. 24), the Cleveland-based denominational headquarters of the United Church of Christ announced four prominent African-American preachers who will highlight activities at the UCC Church House during Black History Month. The four will preach at special noontime Wednesday worship services in the Amistad Chapel.
Leading off the Feb. 1 is the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, UCC general minister and president. On Feb. 8, the Rev. Paul Hobson Sadler Sr., pastor of Mt. Zion Congregational UCC in Cleveland, will be in the pulpit, followed by Judge Denise Page Hood on Feb. 15, and the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. on Feb. 29.
Prior to joining Mt. Zion –– one of the oldest African-American congregations in Cleveland –– Sadler served for nine years as the UCC’s Minister of Evangelism for African American and Native American Indian Church Development. He is widely regarded as an expert in the field of African-American church growth.
Hood, past moderator of both the UCC's General Synod and its Michigan Conference, serves as U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan. She was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1994. Hood has served on the state court benches of the 36th District Court, Recorder's Court, and Wayne County Circuit Court and has worked as Assistant Corporation Counsel in the City of Detroit Law Department.
Wright is pastor emeritus of Trinity UCC in Chicago, a congregation with more than 6,000 members. He became pastor on March 1, 1972, when membership was about 250 members, with fewer than 100 regularly attending worship. When Wright retired in March 2008 after 36 years as senior pastor, Trinity had become the largest church in the mostly-white UCC.
"The diversity of African-American leaders we celebrate during Black History Month, including those who will lead worship services in the UCC Church House each Wednesday in February, possess extraordinarily different backgrounds and senses of place," said Kimberly Whitney, UCC minister for community life.
During February, UCC national staff members will honor Black History Month through activities at the Church House and via the UCC's website, ucc.org.
The United Church of Christ, with national offices at 700 Prospect Ave. in Cleveland, was formed by the 1957 union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.