This spring 2020, Beeson Divinity School hosted its first annual African American Ministry Emphasis Month in conjunction with Black History Month and formed its first Minority Student Fellowship.
The African American Ministry Emphasis Month sought to highlight God’s continued work among African American alumni and friends and to celebrate in a special way what God is doing in and through black churches in America, especially those connected to Beeson and Samford.
The special emphasis included sermons in Hodges Chapel during the month of February, with the exception of the annual Biblical Studies Lectures week. Preachers included Ronald Sterling, pastor of Saint John AME Church and Beeson’s director of student services; Cokiesha Bailey Robinson, Beeson alumna and founder of Cross Spring Ministries, Dallas, Texas; and Charlie Dates, senior pastor of the historic Progressive Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois.
During the month-long emphasis, Beeson’s Student Government Association also sponsored a tour of the 16th Street Baptist Church, led by Beeson alumna and bombing survivor Carolyn McKinstry, and of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on Feb. 22.
“African American Ministry Emphasis Month was a blessing to me,” said Master of Divinity student Corey Savage. “To experience the faithful proclamation of Scripture and fervent expressions of worship rooted in the African American tradition has made an indelible impact on my soul. Seeing and gleaning from sojourners in the faith, who look like me and come from where I’ve come from, are a testament to the God that has brought us this far.”
In January, Beeson launched a new Minority Student Fellowship, which seeks to prepare students to serve in minority church contexts, discuss challenges unique to minority students at Beeson, and provide fellowship with visiting speakers and each other.
“We are so excited about the things the Lord has been doing through the ministries of so many of our minority alumni. Current and future students need to know about these things,” Douglas A. Sweeney, Beeson’s dean, said. “And all of us can grow in our usefulness to the church and our aptitude for partnering with Christians from other racial, ethnic and national backgrounds. Our hope is that the Minority Student Fellowship will serve as a forum for just this kind of education.”
Minority Student Fellowship hosted its first event open to the entire Beeson community with Robinson and a closed lunch with Dates, where they engaged in conversation around various topics, including contextualizing methods learned in the classroom in an African American church setting and challenges minorities face in predominantly Anglo American spaces.
The Minority Student Fellowship also elected officers for 2020-21: Samuel Hagos, president; Savage, vice president; and Isaiah Cruz, secretary. Faculty members Osvaldo Padilla, Sydney Park, Robert Smith Jr., Sterling and Sweeney serve as the faculty advisers.
In addition to the African American Ministry Emphasis preachers, Beeson Doctor of Ministry student Thomas Wilder, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville, was a guest on the Beeson podcast, discussing how God is at work in his ministry. Listen to Wilder, Robinson, Dates and Sterling on the podcast at beesondivinity.com/podcast or on iTunes.