Afro-Christian Convention: The Fifth Stream of the United Church of Christ

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$24.95  $23.20
United Church Press
Publish Date
5.91 X 8.9 X 0.55 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author
Rev. Dr. Yvonne V. Delk is currently a member of the board of trustees of Franklinton Center at Bricks. She is the former executive of the Community Renewal Society of Chicago. She was the first Black woman to be ordained in the United Church of Christ and has served the denomination in leadership positions including serving as the director of its Office for Church in Society. She also served as the moderator of the World Council of Churches' Program to Combat Racism. For sixty years, she has served as an educator, preacher, organizer, and a prophetic voice leading the fight for human and civil rights for people of color, children, and the poor throughout five continents. In 2023, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries appointed Delk as The Right Reverend Mother for her decades of service to the work of justice on behalf of marginalized communities, adding her to the College of Affirming Bishops and Faith Leaders. She is the founding director of the Center for African American Theological Studies.

As a leader in a seminary of the United Church of Christ who also teaches UCC Polity to members-in-discernment, I am thrilled at the release of The Afro-Christian Convention. It not only describes and illuminates an important movement in the history of the UCC, but it also tangles with that history in light of where the church is, and is going, today. Yvonne Delk's peerless ministry experience and incisive scholarship give shape to the ideas of a wide variety of important voices. --Sarah B. Drummond, Founding Dean of the Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School

After the Civil War, Afro-Christians began to intentionally preserve their character and strengthen their identity. I was impressed by the zeal of Afro-Christians and, in the 1980s, encouraged Percel O. Alston, a UCC leader grounded in Afro-Christian history, to preserve the story of how the Afro-Christian Convention had been born. This new book about that convention as a fifth foundational stream of the United Church of Christ is an important hidden history and honors Alston's work. --Barbara Brown Zikmund, author of Hidden Histories in the United Church of Christ (Vols. 1 & 2)

Afro-Christian Convention: The Fifth Stream of the United Church of Christ is a must-read story of the recovery and restoration of the Afro-Christian Convention to its rightful place alongside the denominations that formed the United Church of Christ. The book traces the emergence of independent Black churches in America from the invisible to the visible - from hush harbors and white church balconies - to conferences and conventions, including the Afro-Christian Convention (1866-1950). Its story is recounted from oral histories, sermons, conference minutes, newspaper publications, personal papers, and archival records in such details that I felt as if I was one among the daughters and sons baptized and nurtured in the Afro-Christian church. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the sacred history and witness of this independent Black church that helped form a predominantly White denomination. --Reverend Vanessa Lovelace, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Predominantly white denominations, like the United Church of Christ, have long imagined revisions of "their histories" to include the experience of BIPOC people as a charitable gesture of "welcome." Far from a story of charity, Rev. Dr. Yvonne Delk and her team of ecclesial historians relate the Afro-Christian Convention as the "Fifth Stream" of the UCC to correct the record about the stream's essential reparative contribution to the formation and reformation of the church as a whole. The scholarly skill and powerful storytelling of this volume revive the history of the UCC, inspiring laity, clergy, students, and scholars of the church to celebrate the essential gifts of Blackness and Africanness in the UCC. Until you read this book, you do not know the history of the UCC. Once you read it, your imagination for God's redemptive purpose and power, as witnessed in the Afro-Christian stream of the UCC, will never be the same. --Deborah Krause, President of Eden Theological Seminary

This book is a must read for everyone who cares for the United Church of Christ and all its people. Thank God for the faithful and persistent witness of Rev. Dr. Yvonne Delk and her co-authors who narrate the Afro-Christian tradition so well within these pages. These chapters teach us what many have forgotten, and many more never knew: the Afro-Christian tradition is a robust fifth stream in the river of the United Church of Christ. Readers will travel to the origins of the Afro-Christian church as its own denomination, through the work of its leaders in the activism of the UCC in the 20th century, and on to the influence of an ongoing "Christian message rooted in African spirit" within our denomination today. As Dr. Delk implores, this book will rightly top polity course syllabi for years to come. --Rev. Reebee Kavich Girash, Denominational Counselor to United Church of Christ Students, Harvard Divinity School