Prophets to the Nations: Black Methodism, Liberation, and the American Quest for Racial Justice

by Felicia Howell LaBoy, Keith Lawrence, Donnell J. Moore, General Editors
Prophets to the Nations: Black Methodism, Liberation, and the American Quest for Racial Justice
ISBN: 9781953052056

A Tribute to the Unique Contribution of Black Methodism

to Black Liberation Theology and Womanist Theology

A new Black theology of liberation that addresses the needs of people crushed under the prevailing systems of racial, gender, and heterosexist oppression in America Allen. Jones. Varick. Lee. Douglas. Truth. Foote. Bethune. Lane. Holsey. Lawson-names of famous Black Methodist leaders who challenged racism and sexism of both American society and the church of their generation. These are people who called both the nation and the church to live into the vision for which it had been created and to loosen the bonds of oppression. Once enslaved themselves, and descendants of slaves, they were determined to build denominations and colleges such that future generations would be prepared to assume leadership in an idealized and integrated society. These Black Methodist leaders from the AME, AMEZ, CME, and The UMC provided the theological, socio-economic, and political groundwork that encouraged, sustained, and mobilized African Americans during slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and Black Power Movements.

And while their impact of the work in the fight against both racism and sexism in the church and general society is well documented, what often goes unnoticed is the impact that these leaders had on two of the greatest movements to affect the landscape of the Academy-Black Theology of Liberation and Womanist Theology. What is also forgotten is that two of greatest theologians, James H. Cone and Jacquelyn Grant, were products of the AME Church. Furthermore, Cone, the doctoral advisor of Grant, was also greatly influenced by leaders of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, a Black advocacy group of The United Methodist Church.

While it is important to remember great people of the past, it is also critical to recall the lessons that Black Methodists have taught us with regard to the fight against racial and gender injustice. This century’s Black Methodists, whether AME, AMEZ, CME or UMC (BMCR), must find new ways to contend with racial, sexist, and heterosexist injustice. Like their Black Methodist forefathers and foremothers, they must find ways to provide theological and political responses to movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.

The authors of this volume contend that there is no better time to assume the mantle of Black Methodist prophetic leadership than now as the theological academy and the church celebrate the 50th anniversary of Cone’s groundbreaking book, A Black Theology of Liberation. With the passing of Dr. Cone and Dr. Jacquelyn Grant there is no better way, especially in an era of Me-Too, than to highlight their accomplishments in the fight against racial and gender injustice.

Felicia Howell LaBoy is the Lead Pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church, a multiethnic congregation in Oak Park, IL. With over 18 years of urban pastoral ministry and 30+ years of business experience, Dr. LaBoy is the former Associate Dean of Black Church Studies and Advanced Learning at Louisville Seminary and former Assistant Professor of Evangelization at United Theological Seminary. She is the author of articles in the areas of evangelism, race relations, and women’s leadership. Her other books include Table Matters: The Sacraments, Evangelism and Social Justice and Not for Women Only, Leadership Lessons from Women in the Bible: A 40-Day Devotional.

Keith Donaldson D. Lawrence e is DMin Director at Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, OH.Bishop Donnell J. Moore is Director of Biblical Contextual Leadership at Pillar Seminary and Mentor Coordinator for the DMin program at Payne Theological Seminary.

Praise for Prophets to the Nations

This book bears witness to the fact that the unique lived experiences of Black persons in America, when mediated by their understanding of Wesleyan theology and polity, can produce a marvelous reservoir of theological, soteriological, ecclesiological, sociological, and prophetic knowledge particularly in the areas of Black liberation theology and womanist theology. These distinct understandings of who God is and how God created us to be in relationship with all of creation, which could only be authentically voiced by Black Methodists, are gifts from God. This book is a must read for every African American and for all persons of color with a sense of spirituality and quest for justice in the world.”

Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, Resident Bishop, Western Pennsylvania United Methodist Conference
The gift of God and genius of Black folk is brilliantly embedded and woven throughout the pages of this book. This unique collection of writings speaks volumes about the omnibus Black Experience. By sharing the struggles, pain, obstacles, and how Black people in general and women in particular have had the power to prevail against all odds, the contributors of Prophets to the Nations have given us an uplifting and inspiring book.”

Gregory G. M. Ingram, Retired Bishop, A. M. E. Church

Wesley’s Foundery Books is an imprint of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church. These books are clearly and accessibly written, with an emphasis on church life and ministry. Representing the rich diversity of the church, Wesley’s Foundery Books offer a disciplined and balanced approach and are available in the U.S. and U.K. GHBEM Publishing is an affiliate member of the Association of University Presses.