Church of God of East New York dressed for Black History Month.
By Carl Stagner
Cultural traditions and observances have long been a part of the church calendar. While they don’t demand acknowledgement in worship settings, they’ve been used effectively to establish connections between Christ and community, and between the present-day congregation and faithful servants of the past. From “Souper Bowl” Sunday to fall (Halloween?) festivals, from Labor Day picnics to celebrations of God and country (Independence Day), celebrations of otherwise secular occasions are often used by the church to reach neighbors, encourage fellowship, and/or put into practice biblical values. Each February, numerous Church of God congregations celebrate Black History Month and, in so doing, build bridges between church and society, often shining a light on topics sometimes overlooked or ignored by popular culture. Three Church of God congregations in the Northeast offer a snapshot of Black History Month in the Movement. Continue reading
Posted in All Church of God, Northeast
Tagged African American, black history, Black History Month, Brooklyn, celebration, Church of God of East New York, Clifton McDowell, Connecticut, CT, cultural, culture, diversity, Esau Greene, ethnic, ethnicity, February, heritage, heroes, holiday, legacy, multicultural, New Antioch Church of God, New Haven, New York, NY, NYC, observance, race, racial reconciliation, Refuge Church of God, Tatum Osbourne, unity
Photo: Benny Santiago embraces Hattie Downer at her 100th birthday celebration. Benny’s was one of countless lives changed because of the ministry of Hattie Downer. Photo credit: Richard LaGuerre.
By Carl Stagner
She was the first African American woman to serve the Church of God as a home missionary. She traveled up and down the East Coast, starting Sunday schools and other children’s programs for churches. Ultimately, she made her base of ministry operations on the crime-stricken, drug-infested streets of Brooklyn, New York. There she preached the gospel to local characters with nicknames like “Killer” and “Capone.” She even extended grace multiple times to delinquents who would break in and steal from the church she led. This pillar of faith, rock of endurance, and epitome of compassion has a name: Hattie Downer. She celebrated her one hundredth birthday in September, and many who have been touched by her ministry came to honor her and share stories of personal impact. Continue reading