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Liturgy Resources for Black History Month Worship

21st Century Africana

Worship Resources
Preparation: Assess the accomplishments of individuals within your congregation. If you are in a place where there are significant "firsts," salute the people who made them possible or who were the first to accomplish something. Ask them to write reflections for the bulletin each week of Black History Month.

Opening Prelude

  • "Kum Ba Yah," 139, Songs of Zion
  • "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love," 2223, The Faith We Sing

Call to Worship

Leader: My Lord, what a morning!
You have raised up a mighty nation and a mighty people
People: And we are strong, proud, and yours.

Leader: My Lord, what a morning!
You have brought us through the dips and hollows,
up and down the streets,
over the hills and mountains and through the valleys.
People: And we are strong, proud, brave and yours.

ALL: My Lord, this morning, we have come to celebrate you, to affirm ourselves
as images of you in all your glory and to say "Yes, Lord, we are strong,
proud, brave, and yours in every way." We count it all joy!

Prayer:

Read verse 3 of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" (519, United Methodist Hymnal) in unison.

Offertory Prayer

Preparation: Ask congregants to stand (as they are able) with their hands in front of them, palms up. Remind them that everything the Lord and the world needs is in front of them — the spirit and will to live, thrive and survive; the power to make a difference; the grace and mercy of our God. Invite people to the altar to pray for renewal.

Lord, we come now to offer our talents, our hearts, our love — our everything. You continue to make a way when there doesn't seem to be one. You ask that we lay everything on the altar and be made whole. Lord, we do. Bless, keep, mold, shape, heal us in every way. Amen.

Scripture Readings:

  • Lamentations 3:19-26
  • Psalm 90

Benediction: (Unison)

Today is all we have.
We will rejoice,
we will be renewed
and we will learn from the past,
cherish today, and
welcome the future
because you have given us a powerful and sacred history.
We will teach and learn,
speak and listen,
and grow strong every day of every month. Amen.


Music Suggestions:

  • "How I Got Over," 188, Songs of Zion

  • "Great is Thy Faithfulness," 140, United Methodist Hymnal

  • "What a Mighty God We Serve," 2021, The Faith We Sing

  • "We've Come This Far By Faith," 192, Songs of Zion

  • "I Bowed On My Knees and Cried Holy," 599, African American Heritage Hymnal

  • "In Times Like These," 27, Songs of Zion

  • "Walk Together Children," 541, African American Heritage Hymnal

  • "Lift Every Voice and Sing," 519, United Methodist Hymnal

  • "I Need Thee Every Hour," 397, United Methodist Hymnal


Activities:

1. Host a "Precious Gems" Luncheon or Banquet

Preparation:

  • Identify the women and men in your church over 55 (please feel free to choose an age that may better suit your congregation) and invite them for a special time of celebration.

  • Invite people from your congregation as well as people from your community who may not be members of your church but have provided nurture and support to your community.

  • Select at least four people to speak (2-3 minutes each) about how your community of faith has influenced them and why the honorees are still valuable in your church and in your community.

  • Have the youth and children design place cards, favors, and so on and prepare to provide entertainment or serve as escorts. (Make generous use of rhinestones and faux gemstones from your local hobby/specialty stores.)

  • Before the celebration, you might ask members of your congregation to list ways the honorees have influenced their lives. Hand-write their comments on quality stationary and put these "gems" in attractive hand-decorated envelopes to give as keepsakes.

On the day of the celebration:

  • Give each person a rose. Let them know that you are giving them the flowers while they live — to quote an old gospel song.

  • Survey honorees for their favorite songs and have the choir or soloists perform them.

  • Give each honoree one of the hand-decorated envelopes containing affirming statements from members of the congregation.

  • Videotape the celebration and give each honoree a copy.

Modify as needed, but celebrate your elders while they live!

Possible Scripture references: Psalm 37 (especially verses 24-26); Psalm 90, 91

Songs:

  • "This Little Light of Mine," 132, Songs of Zion

  • "Learning to Lean," 310, African American Heritage Hymnal

  • "My Heavenly Father Watches Over Me," 69, Songs of Zion

  • "God Will Take Care of You," 137, African American Heritage Hymnal

  • "I Know Who Hold Tomorrow,"29, Songs of Zion

  • "Never Alone," 310, African American Heritage Hymnal

  • "I've Got a Feelin,'" 313, African American Heritage Hymnal

2. Do a Legacy Project

There's an old adage that says "When an old person dies, it's like the library burns." Their lessons and wisdom are forever gone unless you have captured them.

Ask your church members over 70 years of age to share the most important things they know, they have learned or wished they had known sooner. Look for a setting where people can share these experiences; for example, a church potluck or a church picnic where everyone can feel comfortable, even those who are "talkers" but not "speakers" (there is a big difference according to my 88-year-old mother!). Ask them about their favorite songs and hymns; also ask them to point out any historical sites that may have been forgotten. Record these interviews and share them at youth and young -adult activities or family night.

Possible Scripture references: Proverbs 16:31, Proverbs 20:29; Leviticus 19:32

Songs:

  • "I Don't Feel No Ways Tired," 175, Songs of Zion

  • "Order My Steps," 333, African American Heritage Hymnal

  • "What Shall I Render," 190, Songs of Zion

  • "The Presence of the Lord is Here" by Kurt Carr sung by Byron Cage

  • "I Shall Not Be Moved," 35, Songs of Zion

  • "God Will Take Care of You," 137, African American Heritage Hymnal

  • "Pass Me Not," 351, United Methodist Hymnal

  • "Where We'll Never Grow Old," 591, African American Heritage Hymnal

About the Author: Cynthia A. Bond Hopson, Ph.D., is Assistant General Secretary of the Black College Fund and Ethnic Concerns for the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and author of Bad Hair Days, Rainy Days and Mondays Wisdom and Encouragement to Lift a Woman's Spirit.

About the Editor: Valerie Bridgeman Davis, Ph.D., Biblical Studies (Hebrew Bible), teaches preaching and worship at Memphis Theological Seminary. Dr. Bridgeman Davis is a consultant for the 21st Century Africana Worship Resource Project.

*This listing of readings comes from The United Methodist Book of Worship and is adapted from The Revised Common Lectionary: Consultation on Common Texts (Abingdon Press, 1992) copyright © by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT), PO Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville TN 37203-0003. Reprinted with permission of CCT.

Categories: Worship, Worship Planning, Lectionary Calendar, Services and Liturgies, 21st Century Africana, Black History Month, 21st Century Liturgy