History of African American Disciples

Raymond Brown, former DHM interim president, reports “black membership in practically all of the first churches where the Disciples movement began.” (An African-American History) Today African American Disciples represent 10 percent of the denomination’s membership and boast some of the fastest-growing congregations in the United States.

Here’s a look at how it all began
(a time line follows):

The African American Convention movement was established as early as 1830 in “free” states as the secular adjunct of African American congregations as a means of coordinating opposition to slavery, forced relocation of free African Americans in Africa and a multitude of social ills. The development of collective strategies to effect the well being of “freed” African Americans after the close of the Civil War (1865) was so great that most of the present organized work of the African American congregations within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was developed by that first generation of former slaves.

The African Christian Missionary Society supported African American evangelist and employed Preston Taylor as National Evangelist during the closing decade of the 19th century. The ACMS asked the Christian Women’s Board of Mission to take over the work in 1900. The CWBM continued that support through the next two decades. On July 1, 1914, the CWBM employed Rosa Brown to minister among the women and on Oct. 1, 1914, the Bible School Department of the ACMS employed P.H. Moss to serve the Bible schools.

The merger was finalized in 1960 and called upon the ministries of the whole church to serve the whole church. Three former National Christian Missionary Convention staff persons became staff of UCMS. They held positions in Evangelism, Christian Education and Christian Women’s Fellowship. Concern was expressed that “Jim Crowism”of the former NCMC staff not be operational through calling upon all of the UCMS staff to serve the whole church.

In 1969, the International Convention of the Christian Churches adopted “Principles for Merger of the National Christian Missionary Convention and the International Convention of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)” that formalized this 26 years of visions and strategy. The opening paragraphs of the resolution state the strategy well.

Under the ONE God, the ONE church has ONE mission in the world; the merger of the National Christian Missionary Convention and the International Convention of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) must be under the disciplines of the ONE God and, in ONE Church, stand united in ONE mission in the world.

The total responsibility and witness of the Church, including the concerns outlined by the Committee on Program and Structure of the National Christian Missionary Convention in its report on “Design for Renewal and Growth,î is the object of the proposed merger of the National Christian Missionary Convention and the International Convention.

The agreements of 1960 between the National Christian Missionary Convention and the United Christian Missionary Society dealing with such areas of common concern as staff employment, the relationship of the Executive Secretary of the National Christian Missionary Convention, employment procedures, Staff Committee on Negro work, Commission on Interracial Relationships, etc. were recognized and approved as being in principle equitable and acceptable to all regarding program services for the total church.

The National Convocation was called into being as a result of the adoption and Implementation of the these principles and stated its purpose in its “Articles of Operation”as follows.

…to provide an instrumentality within the structure of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as forum for the discussion of pertinent issues related to black church life in the context of total church life for fellowship, program promotion, leadership training, and such other general purposes as shall support and strengthen the congregations involved in the total mission of the church.


Development Time Line

Dates Events
1830 Beginning of the African American Convention movement in “free”states
1865 Signing of the Emancipation Proclamation
1867-1910 Organizing of African American Disciple conventions
1890 Preston Taylor hired as National Evangelist by ACMS
1914 Rosa Brown hired as Field Worker for women by CWBM
P.H. Moss hired as Church School and Young Peoples Worker by ACMS
1917 NCMC organized and approved as an auxiliary of the International Convention
1935 R.H. Peoples hired as National Field Worker by UCMS
1943 R.H. Peoples call for merger of NCMC and International Convention
1945 Emmet Dickson hired as Executive Secretary of NCMC
1947 Lorenzo Evans hired as Director of Christian Education by NCMC
1949 Charles Webb, Sr. hired as Director of Field Work and Evangelism by NCMC
1960 Merger of staff and service of NCMC with UCMS
1969 Merger of NCMC with International Convention

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