February is Black History Month. Here are some leaders you may not have heard about, but they are all an important part not only of our nation, but of the church as well.
Mildred Fay Jefferson (April 6, 1927 – October 15, 2010) was an American physician. She was the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School, the first woman to graduate in surgery from Harvard Medical School and the first woman to become a member of the Boston Surgical Society. She is known for her work as president of the National Right to Life Committee.
The founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Richard Allen, was born to slaves in 1760. Allen became a Methodist at age 17, partly because of the church’s official opposition to slavery. But because he still experienced racial prejudice in the religious sect, he decided to found his own denomination in 1816. Allen helped found Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an influential historically African-American congregation.
The Rev. Jarena Lee was the first official female preacher of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, being granted a license by Bishop Richard Allen, the denomination’s founder. Born Feb. 11, 1783, in Cape May, New Jersey, to free black parents, Lee was baptized in 1807 into the AME Church and given authorization to preach in 1819.“Reverend Lee was a true itinerant evangelist, she proclaimed the Gospel extensively throughout the Northeastern United States and Canada, traveling more than 2,800 by foot preaching more than 692 sermons.”
Charles Albert Tindley was a Methodist pastor who was also a hymn writer. Five of his hymns, including “Stand By Me” are in our hymnal. Never able to go to school, Tindley learned independently and by asking people to tutor him. He enlisted the help of a Philadelphia synagogue on North Broad St. to learn Hebrew and learned Greek by taking a correspondence course through the Boston Theological School. Tindley was qualified for ordination in the Methodist Episcopal Church by examination, with high ranking scores.
Tindley Temple – Tindley became the pastor of the church at which he had been a janitor. Under his leadership, the church grew rapidly from the 130 members it had when he arrived. In 1906 the congregation moved from Bainbridge St. to Broad and Fitzwater Sts. and was renamed East Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church. The congregation over time grew to a multiracial congregation of 10,000. After his death, the church was renamed “Tindley Temple.”
And to close…here is a Carver quote: