Quiet changes are taking place in black church circles. For example, there is less emphasis on issues of race, more on evangelism and higher education.

To get a closer look at what is happening, CHRISTIANITY TODAYsent correspondent James C. Hefley to study a bustling congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina, and stringer James S. Tinney to cover the annual meeting of the National Black Evangelical Association in New York City. News editor Edward E. Plowman culled files for an update on denominational groups. Their reports follow:

Infiltration, not confrontation, is the watchword at the black Friendship Baptist Church in Charlotte, an evangelical congregation whose active membership is approaching 1,400. One result: Friendship holds a list of civic, community, and political firsts perhaps unequaled by any other black church in America.

Pastor Coleman Kerry, Jr., 52, was the first black member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Board of Education. Member Fred Alexander was Charlotte’s first black councilman; last November he was elected the first black state senator from Mecklenburg County. Charlotte’s second black councilman is architect Harvey Gantt, also from Friendship Church. A senior high Sunday-school teacher and deacon at the church, Gantt holds a master’s degree in city planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before that he was the first black graduate of Clemson University.

From Friendship have come Charlotte’s first black fireman, policewoman, police public-relations officer, United States commissioner, graduate of an integrated high school, and student-body president at the local junior college. Also from Friendship: the first black chief district judge for Mecklenburg County, the first black executive ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: