The Black Church in Detroit: An Initiative of Detroit Public TV
The signature event in the PBS winter season is the eagerly awaited series by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song.” This landmark four-hour series traces the 400-year-old saga of the Black Church in America and its role as the bedrock institution of African American endurance, grace, freedom and solidarity through times of joy and times of turmoil.
But more than just showcasing this achievement in public broadcasting, DPTV will be bringing the story home through a series of reports on the historic importance and continuing influence of the Black Church in Detroit.
And what better place to showcase this content than on “American Black Journal,” the nation’s longest-running news show devoted to the African American experience? Starting on Sunday, Feb. 14, the show will feature in-depth and heartfelt explorations of the dramatic and decisive role that the Black church has played in the history of the city.
These discussions will be led by the host of “American Black Journal,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Stephen Henderson.
The series is being produced in partnership with the Ecumenical Theological Seminary and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and it is being informed with input and guidance from a range of church and civic leaders representing the diversity of theology and thought in the city.
“The Black Church in Detroit” is not intended to be a one-time, Black History Month special. Rather, it is a continuous commitment to telling a story of the religious institutions that have served the community from the days of the underground railroad through the struggle for social justice and the ongoing quest for a better and more equitable future.
Watch The Black Church in Detroit One Year Anniversary Special:
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The Black Church in Detroit Episodes:
6/06/23: American Black Journal – The historical impact of Detroit’s Black churches
From serving as stations on the Underground Railroad to establishing schools and hospitals and hosting civil rights leaders, the Black Church in Detroit is an important part of Black liberation and empowerment. Host Stephen Henderson explores the historical impact of Detroit’s Black churches.
4/25/23: American Black Journal – The Black Church in Detroit: Preachers’ kids
Three Detroit preachers’ kids reflect on the life lessons they learned from growing up with a pastor as a parent, the influence their fathers had on their present-day careers, and the legacies their fathers left behind in the church and community.
3/28/23: American Black Journal – Trailblazing African American women in ministry
For Women’s History Month, the “Black Church in Detroit” series highlights two trailblazing African American women in ministry: Oak Grove AME Church Pastor Cindy Rudolph and the late Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg, a Detroit radio icon and founder of the Home of Love Church.
1/31/23: American Black Journal – Detroit’s Black churches champion education, Church of the Messiah honors first responders
American Black Journal’s “Black Church in Detroit” series examines the important role of the church as champions for the city’s schools and students. Plus, the Church of the Messiah hosts an awards ceremony honoring Detroit’s first responders for keeping residents safe during two major fires in Islandview.
12/27/22: American Black Journal – Detroit’s Black church leaders look ahead to 2023
As Detroit’s Black church leaders look ahead to 2023, what are their goals, strategies and hopes for the new year? Host Stephen Henderson hears from three local pastors.
11/29/2022: American Black Journal – The Black Church’s role spreading hope and healing during the holidays
The holiday season is a joyous time, but it can also be a time of grief, struggle and insecurity for many families. How does the Black Church help? The “Black Church in Detroit” series examines the church’s role providing relief, support and hope for the community during the holiday season.
10/25/22: American Black Journal – The Black church’s role in Black politics
Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, “The Black Church in Detroit” series examines the political power of the Black church. Host Stephen Henderson talks with Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony and Rev. Charles E. Williams II about the church’s role in getting people to vote, its influence on key issues like voter suppression, representation in Congress, and prominent political leaders who came from the Black church.
A community conversation on gun violence prevention with Detroit’s Black church leaders | The Black Church in Detroit
American Black Journal’s “Black Church in Detroit” initiative invites you to join a live, virtual conversation on gun violence prevention in Detroit, including how the church plays a vital role in gun violence prevention efforts in our communities and how you can be an important part of those efforts too.
9/27/22: American Black Journal – The Black Church in Detroit | Seminary education and the future of ministry
“American Black Journal” continues its series on “The Black Church in Detroit” with a look at the state of seminary education and the future of ministry in Detroit. Host Stephen Henderson talks with seminary leaders and students about the importance of seminary education, the challenges of leading an urban-centered ministry, and how seminaries must stay relevant in today’s changing landscape.
8/30/22: American Black Journal – The Black Church in Detroit Roundtable on Youth
Have today’s youth fallen out of their faith and belief in religion? “American Black Journal” continues its “Black Church in Detroit” series with a look at the Black Church as a center of solutions for the community, especially as it relates to issues surrounding youth. Two Detroit pastors discuss how youth feel about religion, the importance of making church relevant to them, and how the church can intervene in the cycle of violence involving young people.
The Black Church in Detroit Clips:
Ministers’ mental health takes center stage during Mental Health Awareness Month
In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, “American Black Journal” host Stephen Henderson has a frank conversation with Rev. Dr. Carla Spight-Mackey, a clinical specialist at Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network, about the need for resources and ways for ministers can get mental health support.
Detroit’s Black churches partner with city schools, champion students’ education
American Black Journal’s “Black Church in Detroit” series examines the important role the Black church plays in supporting the city’s schools and students through DPSCD’s Faith-Based Initiative and Every School Day Counts program.
Church of the Messiah honors Detroit’s first responders for keeping community safe during Islandview fires
Church of the Messiah Pastor Rev. Barry Randolph hosts an awards ceremony honoring Detroit’s first responders after they kept residents and property safe during two fires on the city’s East side.
The Black Church’s Role in Reducing Gun Violence in the Communities They Serve
In the wake of the recent mass shootings across the country, “American Black Journal” looks at the Black church’s moral and spiritual roles in helping curb gun violence in the community. Rev. Cindy Rudolph at Oak Grove AME Church talks to her congregation about the violence. Plus, host Stephen Henderson has a frank conversation about the root causes of the shootings, the church’s role in disrupting the violence, and the candid concerns of young people.
The sacred and the secular: How gospel music grew from the Blues
“American Black Journal” explores how gospel music grew from the blues. Host Stephen Henderson sits down with Baptist pastor and blues musician Rev. Robert Jones, Sr. to explore the connection between the blues and gospel music, and their symbolic, symbiotic relationship. Plus, they discuss gospel music’s roots in the African American community then and today.
Negro Spirituals: The Music That Helped Free Enslaved African Americans
American Black Journal Producer AJ Walker talks with Dr. Brandon Waddles, a composer, arranger, choir director and music instructor at Wayne State University, about how Negro spirituals uplifted enslaved Africans brought to this country and how it served as a universal language that helped lead them to freedom. Plus, they discuss R&B singers, past and present, whose musical roots stemmed from the Black Church.
The New Normal: How the Black Church Has Adapted to Online Worship, Outreach
“American Black Journal” producer AJ Walker meets with Rev. Cindy Rudolph, of Oak Grove AME Church in Detroit, to learn more about how the church reacted and adapted new ways of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rudolph talks about having to quickly adapt to remote services, online tithing and increased community outreach, all in the midst of her first few months as the church’s new senior pastor
Technology Meets Theology: 3 Local Pastors Talk Changes to Church Worship During COVID
Host Stephen Henderson sits down with Bishop Charles Ellis III of Greater Grace Temple, Rev. Dr. Steve Bland, Jr. of Liberty Temple Baptist Church, and Pastor Semmeal Thomas of City Covenant Church to talk about the changes to their worship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
St. Charles Lwanga Parish Prepares for its Centennial Celebration
“American Black Journal” producer AJ Walker visits St. Charles Lwanga parish, formerly known as St. Cecelia Church, for a wide-ranging discussion with its pastor, Fr. Theodore Parker, as the parish prepares for its 100th-anniversary celebration. The two talk about the history of Black Catholicism, the church’s name change and the controversy over a painting of Black Jesus.
Detroit’s Black Catholics Continue Efforts to Rebuild Community After Population Decline
Detroit’s Black Catholic population isn’t what it used to be. What was once a thriving religious community here has dwindled over the years. Host Stephen Henderson sits down with leaders from the University of Detroit Mercy and the Archdiocese of Detroit for a discussion about the dwindling population of Black Catholics and parishes Detroit and what efforts are being made to rebuild the community.