Activism and art combine in CTS’ Black History Month celebrations

Thanks to the efforts of the Black Student Caucus, Christian Theological Seminary is planning several events to celebrate Black History Month. The events include a one-day conference on putting faith into action, a performance entitled “My Soul Applauds at the Sound of Freedom,” special Chapel services—with preaching by Rev. Dr. William Barber II—and a book drive.

On Wednesday, February 3, Dr. Barber will preach at the Community Chapel service at CTS, starting at 11:30 am. That evening, at 7 pm, he will present a public, free lecture in Shelton Auditorium.

Born in Indianapolis, Dr. Barber is President of the North Carolina NAACP and founder of the Moral Mondays movement, which organizes acts of non-violent civil disobedience in North Carolina. He is the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors.

On Saturday, February 6, from noon to 5 pm, is a conference, “The Link: Social Action and Theology,” which focuses on racial identity, economics and justice. Attendees will learn how to link education with actions. The afternoon starts with meditation led by CTS students Milton Keys and Ronnie Bell. Next, keynote speaker Dr. Timothy Knight, Policy Analyst for the Oakland (California) Police Review Board and a veteran of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, will deliver “Rebuilding the Bridge: Restoring the Relationship between Minority Communities and Law Enforcement.” Following his remarks, Dr. Knight will lead a panel discussion on how faith-based community action can bring about economic justice. Panelists include Derek Miller, a licensed minister and Indiana State Trooper; Lori Stone Sirtosky, a lay leader with Sacred Path Church and a member of the executive steering committee of Unitarian Universalist Allies for Racial Equity; Eddie Journey, Ordained Minister, Therapist and CTS Alumnus; Dr. Carlton Waterhouse, Associate Professor at IU McKinney School of Law and Adjunct Professor of Ethics at CTS; and Dr. Christina Davis, CTS Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling and Clinic Director of the CTS Counseling Center. The day will conclude with music and a closing meditation led by Rev. Monique Spells of CTS. Conference tickets are $30 for the general public, $6 for students (must show ID at the door) and available at Eventbrite.

On Saturday, February 13, from 6-7:30 pm, “My Soul Applauds at the Sound of Freedom” features invited performers including musician Vivica Turrentine, spoken word artists Rae Karim and Quinn Barney, the Iibada Dance Ensemble, the Butler University Gospel Choir “Voices of Deliverance,” and other Indianapolis choral artists, all led through the performance by narrator Sheila Spencer. It will take place in Shelton Auditorium at CTS and is free and open to the public, but please register here. CTS artist-in-residence and student Michele Wood created the performers’ colorful costumes.

On Wednesday, March 2, Dr. Leah Gunning Francis—CTS’ incoming Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty—will preach during Chapel services at 11:30 am. Vivica Turrentine will perform her original song, “My Soul Applauds at the Sound of Freedom” during both the February 3 and March 2 Chapel services.

Students have also organized a children’s book drive, with a special request for books that feature children of different ethnicities. Those books are being collected at various points around Indianapolis, including outside Shelton Auditorium and Sweeney Chapel at CTS. The books will be donated to public schools and churches in central Indiana. Buy a book to donate at the CTS bookstore, and receive 20% off the price of the book.

The month-long celebration has been planned by the CTS Black Student Caucus, under the guidance of Dr. Frank Thomas, the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics at CTS, and Monique Spells, Director of Recruitment. The students also received support from several partners: the Academy of Preaching and Celebration at CTS, Butler University, Butler University Black Student Union, CTS Student Association, Indianapolis Mario County Public Library College Avenue Branch, Desmond Tutu Center, IUPUI Office of Community Engagement, Jack and Jill of America, Zonderkidz Publishing and several Indianapolis churches.

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