Honoring Black Leaders in Methodism
This year, one of ways we are marking Black History Month at Silver Spring UMC is with special bulletin inserts. These will include information about some of the prominent black leaders of the Methodist movement along with questions for family discussion and reflection. Look for these in your bulletins and online every week during February!
Charles Albert Tindley
Born: July 7, 1851, Berlin, Maryland.
Died: July 26, 1933, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Tindley is known as one of the “founding fathers of American Gospel music.” The son of slaves, he taught himself to read and write at age 17. He was a driven young man, working as a janitor while attending night school, and earning his divinity degree through a correspondence course. In 1902, he became pastor of the Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the church where he had earlier been the janitor. At the time of Tindley’s death, his church had 12,500 members. The Tindley Temple United Methodist Church in Philadelphia was named after him. Tindley’s “I’ll Overcome Some Day” was the basis for the American civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome,” popularized in the 1960’s. On February 11, we sang “Nothing between my Soul and the Savior” as part of the gospel music at our 11am service.
Write up courtesy of Cyberhymnal.com.
Bishop Edward G. Carroll (1910-2000)
We’re starting this series by recognizing the amazing life and ministry of Bishop Eddie Carroll, who pastored Marvin Memorial Church from 1968-1972. Bishop Carroll was appointed to the almost exclusively white congregation at Marvin shortly after the formal desegregation of the Methodist Church. While some families in the congregation left the church in protest, his ministry there ushered in a new era of inclusion. Current SSUMC members interviewed for this write up remember his leadership as vital to creating a congregation that better reflected the changing neighborhoods around Four Corners. “Hate wasn’t in his vocabulary,” one member recalled. Others spoke fondly of his sense of humor, kindness, beautiful sermons, and ability to build relationships with everyone. He was an avid tennis player and would invite folks to play tennis as a way to provide care to them. He lived in the parsonage where Rev. Angela and her family lives now.
While we are thrilled to claim his legacy in how our own community has been shaped, his life in ministry extended well beyond the walls of Marvin church. He served as a chaplain in the military during World War II and then traveled extensively after the war to build up ministry programs on college campuses. He served numerous other churches, and in his youth, traveled to India, Burma, and Ceylon with a delegation of the Christian Youth Movement led by Rev. Howard Thurman. He was active in the NAACP and participated in freedom marches and other movements that advocated for an end to segregation in American society and in the Methodist Church. He was elected to be a bishop in 1972 and then served two terms in New England, where his leadership and his wife, Phenola’s, leadership were celebrated. In his 20 years of retirement, he lectured at seminaries and universities and traveled extensively with his family.
In 1966, he wrote an article for “The Church in Urban America,” entitled “Developing Culturally and Racially Inclusive Local Churches.” In it, he asserts that “the church must demonstrate not only in ideology but in practice that it is a redemptive, inclusive fellowship.” He emphasized how the church can bridge the gaps between people, offering a community that listens with sincerity, responds with respect, and fosters a concern for people, “not as labels, but as lives.” What a beautiful vision of all that the church can be!
Thoughts for reflection
- Bishop Carroll once delivered a memorial address that included the following passage: “Oft times glory to us is associated with magnificence and dazzling splendor, the pomp of power and the pride of place…but God is telling us to look for His glory in the tender grace of gentleness, in the power of compassion, and in the sweet dignity of love.”
Where and in whom have you seen this face of God’s glory?
Where is a place in your life where you can better cultivate “the power of compassion?”
- Did you know that the Methodist Church only formally desegregated in 1968? Many churches remain very segregated. What are some of the gifts and challenges of attending a racially diverse church? How can our ministries better support this identity?
Thank you to Wendy and Bob Ryan, Lillian Scott, and Benita Talbot for sharing their reflections to prepare this note.