February 10, 2023
Each February, the Synod of New York serves as both a celebration and a powerful reminder that Black Christian history is American history, Black culture is American Christian culture, and stories derived from a rich southern, northern, western and Caribbean culture are essential to the ongoing story of the inclusion of the African American Churches in the Reformed Church in America. In our Synod, there are stories of struggles, progression, and ascriptions in the life of our denomination. Shining a light on Black history today is important to understanding about how African Americans – Slaves were part of the “Dutch Reformed Church” as care providers for their masters and cleaning the church grounds. Grave sites were destinated for slaves on church grounds and separate church grounds were also designated for Slave worship and contributed to faith journey of those who trusted in God’s presence for equality for all God’s children. That is why it is essential that we take time to celebrate the immeasurable contributions of Black Christians, honor the legacies and achievements of generations past, especially like my father who grew up at the Elmendorf Reformed Church and served in the church as an Usher and community leader for social justice in the early 1940s. In 1969, the late Elders Clyde Watts, John Ashely, Edgar Dillard and David Beale challenged the RCA – General Synod to dismantle Racism, and in the 1970s women voiced their participation for leadership development and Christian renewal and Black Christian Education, like the late Elder Sara Smith, the late Rev. Clara Woodson, Rev. Millie Green, Elder Mary Brown and the late Elder Dorothy Wills, Elder Margaret McCants, Elder Lulu Thomas, Elder June Richardson, Elder Bertha Wright, Elder Erma Rolle. The Rise of homegrown RCA ministers: Rev. Edwards, Rev. Andre Daly, Rev. Anna Jackson, Rev. Dwayne Jackson, Rev. Sharon Atkins, Rev. Paul Glover, Rev Kelvin Spooner, Rev. James Stewart, Rev. Calvin Spann, and the late Rev. Clara Woodson. RCA Presidents the late Rev. Wilbur Washington, the late Rev. James Seawood and Rev. Dwayne Jackson; and a host of qualified African American Ministers who joined the RCA for the furtherance of God’s plan to dismantle Racism and Social-Spiritual Injustices in the Reformed Church in America.
Many churches in our region, like Elmendorf, DeWitt, Grace, Mott Haven, Highbridge, Flatbush, New Lots, Bronxville, New Utrecht, South Bushwick, MT. Vernon, Canarsie, New Brooklyn, Flatlands, Flatbush, Astoria, Queens, Old First, the Collegiate Churches and other RCA churches in the Classes of Orange and Mid-Hudson celebrate Black History Month and continue to build bridges between church and community as vital ministry for Social Reformed and Renewal of God’s Plan for hope and reconciliation, despite obstacles or oppression we continue to face as Christians.
As a Synod, we salute RCA African American pastors who hold stories in the Reformed Church in America for Christian Discipleship-Transformation, Racial Reconciliation and Equality for all Christians. They portray pivotal roles in the Black Church to “uplift the race” and continue in leading God’s Prophetic Word against Racial Discrimination and Dismantling Racism and all Isms in the life of God’s Church:
Rev. Sharon Atkins, Rev. DeLafayet Awkward, Rev. Jennifer Bendelius, Rev. Wanzette Bilbrew, Rev. Moses Biney, Rev. Nathaniel Bull, Rev. Dr. Ursula Cargill, Rev. Larry Dodson, Rev. Lawrence Dove, Rev. Gregory Dunlap, Rev. Dr. Micheal Edwards, Rev. Barbara Felker, Rev. LaVelle Gates, Rev. Paul Glover, Rev. Alfred Gordon, Rev. Dr. Denise Grier, Rev. Jeffery Hough, Rev. Anna Jackson, Rev. Dwayne Jackson, Rev. Mark Kellar, Rev. Rodney Lake, Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis, Rev. Kent McHeard, Rev. Robert Morris, Rev. Dr. Micah L. McCreary, Rev. Cedric Nelms, Rev. Nengean, Rev. Robbie Robinson, Rev. Dr. Patricia Sealy, Rev. Patricia Simmon, Rev. Charles Singletary, Rev. Dr. Patricia Singletary, Rev. Kelvin Spooner, Rev. James Steward, Rev. Cora Taitt, Rev. Susanna Wade, and Rev. Dr. Peter Watts
We continue to pray and appreciate the Christian work of our Commission Pastors, Chaplains, Missionaries, Seminarians, Contract Pastors, Preaching Elders, Elders, Deacons and those seeking ordination in the RCA.
Please note if you see a name that is missing from the list, please let us know so that we may add them directly.