FSUMC celebrates grand Black History Month

Abena Amory sings Bob Marley’s “One Love.”
Photo by Nelson A. King

Fenimore Street United Methodist Church (FSUMC) on Sunday celebrated Black History Month with a grand commemoration during its Worship Service.

The two-hour-long celebration, dubbed “Heritage Sunday,” was punctuated with, among other things, lofty singing, drumming, dancing, praying, preaching and reading of scriptures, as well as narration and a Black History Moment.

Singer Abena Amory – daughter of late Nevis Premier Vance Amory and eminent Vincentian soloist Erlene Williams-King – set the pace in the pre-Worship Ceremony with gospel renditions, including “It’s Been a Long Time Coming”, and ending with the legendary Bob Marley’s “One Love.”

Evangelist Sis. Barbara Castleberry “Steal Away” with the introit; Juniors Angelica Nedd and siblings Nicholas and Noelani Charles brought the Black History Moment; the Youth Worship Team provided Praise and Worship, including “Here I Am to Worship,” “My God is Awesome” and “I Have a Very Big Heart”; The Combined Choir sang “The Right Hand of God”; and The Liturgical Dancers danced to “I Got Joy.”

Sis. Barbara Moody with Drummers Eric Frazier, left, and Gene Osborne.
Sis. Barbara Moody with drummers Eric Frazier, left, and Gene Osborne. Photo by Nelson A. King

Liturgist Min. Cynthia Grant also offered the Opening Prayer and read 2 Tim. 1:3-5; and Master Drummers Eric Frazier and Gene Osborne rendered special presentations, while “Heritage Sunday” Coordinator Sis. Barbara Moody narrated “Resources for Celebrating Black History Month 2024, provided by the Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church.

The church’s African American Pastor the Rev. Roger Jackson, a native New Yorker, preached on “The Past is Prologue,” while the congregation joined in singing, among other hymns, the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” “Let It Breathe on Me” and “We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.”

Judge Norma Jennings makes a guest appearance.
Judge Norma Jennings makes a guest appearance. Photo by Nelson A. King

In addition, Judge Norma Jennings, who is contesting a Civil Court Judgeship for the 6th Judicial District, in the June 25 Democratic Primary, made a guest appearance, telling the congregation about her qualifications for the bench.

In reading the narration, written by Bryan Tener, for the United Methodist Church, Belizean-born Sis. Moody said that February, being Black History Month, is “a woven tapestry of The United Methodist Church,” and that “African Americans are — and have been — vital, having played a major role in the denomination’s development.”

She noted that Black History Month has been observed in February in the United States and Canada since 1976, stating that the celebration was started by historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926 “as a weeklong focus to educate American people about African American history.

Sis. Barbara Castelberry sings "Steal Away.”
Sis. Barbara Castelberry sings “Steal Away.” Photo by Nelson A. King

“Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the gifts and offerings that African Americans contribute to the world and the church through art, music, writing, leadership and action,” Sis. Moody said. “There is much to recognize, reflect upon and share with others.”

In his sermon, based on 2 Tim. 1:3-5, Pastor Jackson preached that “our heritage encompasses our personal proclivities – what we eat, how we dress…”

He noted, however, that “our common thread, though, (is that) we come this far by faith.

“We must pass down our spiritual heritage, our ‘correctedness’, our vision” he urged. “Spirit heritage is our faith.

“In our culture, heritage is to love and respect God,” Rev. Jackson said. “A God we serve is worthy of our praise and worthy of our shepherd. Our culture includes our legacy. The past is a prologue to our culture.”