Garrett-Evangelical News

Black United Methodists Preach!

Black United Methodists preachBlack United Methodists Preach! explores the dynamic tradition of Black preaching within The United Methodist Church.

What accounts for the spiritual power and vitality of Black preaching? What are the distinctive contributions of Black preaching to the life of The United Methodist Church? How must Black preaching evolve if it is to rise to the new challenges facing the UMC?

Fifteen distinguished preachers from across the connection answer these and other questions in this important and illuminating volume.

Gennifer Benjamin Brooks not only edits this collection, she also shares one of her own sermons along with the sermons of the following fourteen other preachers: Rose Booker-Jones, Leo W. Curry, Safiyah Fosua, Telley Lynnette Gadson, Linda Lee , Pamela Lightsey, Okitakoyi Lundula, Tracy Smith Malone, Gregory Palmer, Vance P. Ross, Robert O. Simpson, Rodney T. Smothers. James E. Swanson, Sr., and Dorothy Watson-Tatem.

A Partnership in Effective Proclamation

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary's Styberg Preaching Institute, with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., is launching A Partnership in Effective Proclamation. This program focuses on effective seminary teaching of preaching and on peer support for improving the preaching of those already working in congregations. Two key components of this program include peer learning groups for active pastors under the direction of trained facilitators and the development of teachers of homiletics through a pre- or post-doctoral fellowship in teaching preaching.

You can learn more about our peer learning groups, facilitators, and teaching fellowship using the tabs below.

Pastoral leaders interested in joining one of the peer learning groups are encouraged to learn more about the groups in the tabs below and submit an application by June 1, 2015. Pastors who are also interested in being a peer learning group facilitator will need to submit both an application to join a peer learning group and an application to be a facilitator by June 1, 2015. Ph.D. candidates or post-doctorate Ph.D.s with an emphasis in homiletics at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary must have their materials and references submitted by May 1, 2015.

Peer Learning Groups

Peer Learning Groups

The purpose of peer learning groups is to give local church pastors from any denominational context the opportunity to engage with their peers in a group setting with an agenda that focuses specifically and deliberately on preaching. We believe that this will help clergy gain new perspectives on the challenge of preaching, discover new resources that will help them in their ministry, and learn to continuously develop their understanding and practice of preaching. Additionally, as preachers begin to improve their preaching skills, congregations will be led to greater engagement with the pastor and the sermon.

Each group will consist of ten members who are either lead pastors in their churches, responsible for preaching on a weekly basis, or associate pastors who preach regularly in a worship setting. The group will be formed of persons within a twenty-mile radius. A trained facilitator will provide leadership for the group. Members of the peer learning group will be selected by the Garrett-Evangelical program faculty, based in part on their location, in order to facilitate group meetings. Group participants will meet for up to three hours each month for ten months out of the year and will be asked to commit to the group for at least one year.

The monthly meetings will be focused on areas of learning for the members and will include group discussion and personal sharing. The meetings will be designed to encourage collaboration by members in the development, review, and critique of each other’s sermons and preaching practices, and will engage topics specific to preaching, which the group determines will be most helpful.

Members of the peer learning groups will receive a refund of their registration fee and a certificate for three continuing education units at the end of the first year if they have maintained their membership through their participation in the group for the full year.

Applications are due by June 1, 2015, and group members will be notified by July 15th. The registration fee of $100.00 will be due by September 1, and groups will begin meeting by the end of September. Please direct any inquiries to

Click on the button below to submit your application electronically. If you prefer, you can download an interactive .pdf application here.

Application button

Peer Learning Group Facilitators

Peer Learning Group Facilitators

Peer group facilitators will be selected by the Garrett-Evangelical program faculty based on criteria associated with their preaching and leadership skills and their availability and willingness to commit to the requirements of the facilitator role. They will have expressed their interesting in participating in the peer learning groups through the application process. Facilitators will be trained in group dynamics and group leadership as well as other areas specific to preaching. They will be required to commit to the program for three years and will receive a stipend each year for the three years of their tenure.

Along with their leadership of the group and the learning group meetings, facilitators must maintain a personal connection with all participants and will be responsible for recruiting additional persons as needed to maintain the group at the required level. Diversity is a key criterion of the peer learning groups, and facilitators must be committed to both facilitating intercultural engagement and maintaining a diverse learning experience.

There will be two major training events for new facilitators each year, each two and a half days long. Facilitators, who have been trained previously, will be invited to participate on a limited basis in the subsequent training sessions in order to share what they have learned and provide helpful hints to facilitate the success of the new groups. During each year, facilitators will meet as a group once by video conference under the Garrett-Evangelical project leadership as a check-in of group performance and to address any issues that may have arisen in order to ensure the proper functioning of their role as facilitators.

Facilitator requirements are: proven skill in preaching, experience in group dynamics, motivational skills, administrative skill and experience, and commitment to fostering diversity. An advanced degree in preaching or church leadership is desirable. Facilitator applications must be accompanied by a peer group application, and are due by June 1st, 2015. Facilitators will be notified by July 1st and must be available to attend training sessions on August 19th – 21st and September 16th – 18th. Please direct any inquiries to

Click on the "Application" button below to submit your application electronically and the "Reference Form" button to download the reference form. If you prefer, you can download an interactive .pdf application here.

Application button       Reference form button

Teaching Fellowship

Teaching Fellowship

The Styberg Preaching Institute at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is pleased to announce a full-time Teaching Fellowship in the area of homiletics. The fellowship will provide financial support to a promising Ph.D. candidate or post-doctorate Ph.D. with an emphasis in homiletics at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. The recipient of the Teaching Fellowship will have taken the doctoral-level course, “Teaching Preaching.” Additionally, he or she will have served at some point prior to receiving the award as a teaching assistant in the introductory preaching course at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

The fellowship recipient will gain hands-on classroom experience by co-teaching the introductory preaching course under the supervision of and in collaboration with the homiletics faculty at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and will have the opportunity to develop skills in teaching, course planning, and syllabus design. The fellowship provides an opportunity for the candidate to develop his or her unique pedagogical style and refine his or her teaching skills in a challenging and supportive environment.

Additional responsibilities of the Teaching Fellow will include facilitating an online peer support group for students in the Advanced Preaching Class. The Teaching Fellow will be expected to demonstrate competence in using technology in preaching and to teach the same. The Teaching Fellow will also be required to participate in the Academy of Homiletics, in part by presenting a paper at the academy meeting during the fellowship year. There will be no faculty committee responsibilities involved. The fellowship may be renewed once.

The Styberg Preaching Institute is fully ecumenical. The institute does not unlawfully discriminate and aims to employ persons of various backgrounds and experiences to help constitute a diverse community. In addition to strong academic qualifications and excellence in teaching, the institute highly values experience in working across cultural boundaries and other significant differences.

Application materials: (Please direct any inquiries to

  • A CV including degrees, teaching experience, and publications.

  • Three letters of recommendation. Download Reference Form

  • An application essay of not more than 1,000 words on the sources of the candidate's interest in this fellowship, the candidate's preparation for and dedication to teaching preaching, and the candidate's immediate and long- range research interests.

  • Doctoral transcripts.



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Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grant-making is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes. More information can be found at


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Styberg Preaching Institute

Founded in 2005, the Styberg Preaching Institute has established an intentional and persistent agenda of addressing the need for relevant, effective preaching in the church. Its motto, The Seminary and the Church: Partners in Proclamation, speaks to the mandate of the Seminary to equip pastors for transformative ministry and recognizes preaching as a critical aspect of that mission. Through programs and activities, the institute engages persons of diverse preaching traditions and cultures, with the aim of improving the preaching skills of established preachers as well as preachers in training at the Seminary.


Continuing Education Units

Members of the peer learning groups will receive a certificate for three continuing education units at the end of the first year if they have maintained their membership through their participation in the group for the full year. Please direct any inquiries to

Styberg Preaching Workshop

Proclaiming Justice: Affirming Abundant Health in the
African American Community

May 20-22, 2015
St. Mark United Methodist Church, Chicago, IL

For the next three years (2015-2017), the Styberg Preaching Institute will be focusing on the theme of "Proclaiming Justice." This year, the Styberg Preachign Institute is pleased to welcome Rev. Dr. Cheryl B. Anderson for the first workshop in the Proclaiming Justice series.

As Christians, we know that according to the Gospel of John, Jesus came so that we may "have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10). Yet African Americans sometimes struggle to see signs of abundant health in our lives and in our communities. During this year's workshop, we will identify the range of challenges faced and then, using contextual approaches, we will develop biblically based messages that affirm abundant health.

Cheryl Anderson HThis three-day workshop will be feature Dr. Cheryl Anderson. Dr. Anderson is professor of the Old Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. Her research interests focus on women and biblical laws as well as liberationist readings of biblical texts. Her first book, Women, Ideology, and Violence was published by Continuum Press in 2004. Her second book, Ancient Laws and Contemporary Controversies: The Need for Inclusive Biblical Interpretation, was published by Oxford University Press in the fall of 2009. She has also published numerous articles, in addition to lecturing extensively in the United States and in sub-Saharan Africa.

During the last few years, Dr. Anderson has studied the Church’s response to the AIDS pandemic in the African American community and in South Africa, the country with the highest number of persons in the world who are living with AIDS. She has received two major grants for her work—one was from the Louisville Institute and the other one was a Fulbright award. Dr. Anderson is committed to using her academic background to help African and African American communities face this pandemic.

The registration fee for the two-day preaching workshop is $100 per person. Registration fee is waived for Garrett-Evangelical and ACTS students, as well as 2010-2014 Garrett-Evangelical alums, but registration is still required. For fee waiver code, please contact Shane Nichols at

There are a limited number of scholarships available. Please contact Dr. Gennifer Brooks, Director of the Styberg Preaching Institute, at 847-866-3888 or for more information.

A 0.5 CEU credit is available for people who attend all of the sessions of this workshop. The cost for the CEU certificate is $25.00 and can be purchased at the end of the workshop.

To register, please go here.

Schedule of Events

Schedule of Events

Coming soon!



St. Mark UMC is located at:
8441 S. St. Lawrence Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60619

2015 Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) and Garrett-Evangelical Black Seminarians (G-EBS) are sponsoring a variety of events and worship opportunities during the month of February. All events are centered around this year’s theme, "Violence Interrupted." Exploring the various forms of violence that affect our communities and world, we will look at ways we can respond as citizens and people of faith.

All events are open to the public and free to attend.

Arts exhibits commissioned by CBE and created by Evanston-Chicago based artist Fran Joy and current M.Div. student Carmanie Bhatti will be on display in the seminary's main building during the month of February for Black History Month.

Schedule of Events - February 2015

February 4, 6:00 p.m. 
Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful

Opening Plenary: The Invitation
Rev. Dr. Stephen Ray, Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Professor of Systematic Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

February 11, 6:00 p.m. 
Loder Hall

Sermon: The Inheritance of Peacemaking
Rev. Loyce E. Spells II, House of Prayer at Evanston (HOPE)

February 13, 6:00 p.m.
Room 205

The DNA of Peacemakers
Officer Loyce E. Spells II, PeaceAble Cities and Evanston Police Department

February 17, 11:15 a.m.
Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful

Worship Service: Missing in Action
Rev. Robert Biekman, Senior Pastor of Maple Park United Methodist Church and Urban Ministry Coordinator for the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church


February 20, 6:00 p.m.
Loder Hall

Garrett-Evangelical Black Seminarians
Movie and Discussion: The Interrupters
Snacks will be provided.

February 25, 6:00 p.m.
Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful

Sermon/Lecture: HIV/AIDS and Violence
Rev. Dr. Cheryl Anderson, Professor of Old Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Dr. JoAnne TerrellAssociate Professor of Ethics, Theology & the Arts at Chicago Theological Seminary

February 25, 7:00 p.m.
Loder Lounge

Garrett-Evangelical Black Alumni/ae Reception

February 27, 6:00 p.m.
Room 205

Round Table Discussion: The Impact of Violence on Families and "The Village"
Rev. Miley Palmer, Retired Minister of Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church
Ms. Cathy "Pepsi" Key, 2nd Baptist Church
Min. Sherry Walker, Bethany Baptist Church of Christ

G-ETS Black Alumni Association Survey

Based upon your responses to the black alumni survey sent in early 2013, CBE - The Center for the Church and the Black Experience at Garrett-Evangelical - is working toward the creation of a Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Black Alumni Association. We are committed to providing a space through which Black alumni can continue to grow and be supported in their ministries in and beyond the local church. In order to design the Association effectively and efficiently, we would love to hear from you again. Please take 1 to 2 minutes to complete the survey below that will help us better serve you.  Thanks!


Would you be interested in participating in a G-ETS Black Alumni Association?(*)
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If yes, please rank the following in order of importance to your needs and interests as a Black alum. (1 being the most important to 4 being the least important)


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If no, why not?
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Dr. Isabella M. Garnett

Dr. Isabella M. Garnett (August 22, 1872 – August 23, 1948)

Trailblazing Nurse/Doctor/Philanthropist/Entrepreneur

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Dr. Isabella M. Garnett.

garnettA member of an early black family that settled in Evanston, Illinois, Dr. Isabella Garnett joined the medical profession at a time when it was not commonplace for women, especially black women, to have such aspirations.

Isabella Maude Garnett, the seventh of nine children, attended the local schools as did her siblings.  After high school, she moved to Minneapolis, attended business school and worked for a printer.  When Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, founder of the Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses in Chicago, recruited her in 1893, she returned from Minneapolis to attend.

She stated “I took up nursing to work my way through school, but I knew I wanted to be a physician and have my own hospital someday.”  After earning a diploma in 1895, Miss Garnett worked as a nurse and later attended the Physician’s and Surgeon’s College (now the University of Illinois College of Medicine), graduating in 1901.  After Dr. Garnett built a private practice in Chicago, she returned to Evanston and shared an office with her dentist brother, William.

In 1907, she married Arthur DeLyons Butler, a medical student at Northwestern University.  Local hospitals became more reluctant to admit black patients, so in May 1914, the couple opened the interracial Evanston Sanitarium in their home.  The only medical facility for blacks north of Chicago, it became the Community Hospital in 1930.  She served as its Superintendent until 1946.

Dr. Garnett’s long-time affiliation with the Second Baptist Church of Evanston inspired her to pay off its longstanding mortgage in 1942.  During a testimonial in recognition of her support of the hospital and service in organizations such as the NAACP and the Iroquois League, she turned over a purse of nearly $4,700.00 collected on her behalf.

The Isabella Butler Park in northwest Evanston stands as a memorial to her legacy.


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

Gloria St. Clair Hayes Richardson

Gloria St. Clair Hayes Richardson (May 6, 1922– )

Leader of the Cambridge Movement

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Gloria St. Clair Hayes Richardson.

richardsonGloria Richardson was an outspoken leader during the fight to overturn the Jim Crow laws in Cambridge, MD during the early 1960s.  She incorporated armed self-defense tactics that inspired the more militant factions of the Black Power Movement.  A native of Baltimore, MD, she moved with her family to Cambridge, her mother’s home town, during the Great Depression.  Mrs. Richardson earned a sociology degree in 1942 from Howard University and worked briefly as a civil servant based in Washington, DC.  She returned to Cambridge and unsuccessfully sought a job in social work.  In 1948, she married a local school teacher, Harry Richardson, and for the next thirteen years, she was a mother and homemaker.
After her divorce from Mr. Richardson, a freedom ride came to Cambridge in 1961.  Subsequently, she and her daughter joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).[1]  Though she disagreed with the concept of non-violence, a year later, Mrs. Richardson organized the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee (CNAC), the first adult-led affiliate.  The group initially used sit-ins to desegregate segregated restaurants, bowling alleys, and movie theatres, but later Mrs. Richardson worked more aggressively to change the chronic low wages, high unemployment and low voter registration numbers in the city.  Because CNAC’s confrontations were more violent, the Governor called in the National Guard in the summer of 1963, placing the city under martial law.  U. S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy brokered an agreement between CNAC and Cambridge’s white politicians, resulting in the Treaty of Cambridge that desegregated key public facilities and institutions.  
Mrs. Richardson was recognized as one of six “Negro Women Fighters for Freedom” during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  She was also scheduled to make remarks, but the microphone was taken from her immediately after she greeted the audience.  In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the March, she spoke out about the sexism she and other female participants encountered in the Movement.  

In 1964, Mrs. Richardson resigned from CNAC and moved to New York, where she remained active in other civil rights organizations.

1 The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), founded in April 1960, did civil rights field work across the South by participated in Freedom Rides and sit-ins and organizing voter registration drives.


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

Luisa Moreno

Luisa Moreno (August 30, 1907-November 4, 1992)

Labor Leader/Social Activist

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Luisa Moreno.

morenoA Guatemalan immigrant who became a union organizer in the United States and an outspoken critic of injustice, Luisa Moreno was a passionate crusader on behalf of all workers, particularly women of color.

Born Blanca Rosa Lopez Rodriguez to an upper-class family, Mrs. Moreno’s family immigrated to the United States in 1916.  She attended the College of the Holy Name in California before returning to Guatemala.  For the next few years, she wrote poetry and worked for local newspapers, which fueled her interest in social issues.  When she moved to New York City in 1928 with her husband, Guatemalan artist Miguel Angel de Leon, Mrs. Moreno immediately became involved in labor organizing after she saw how segregation affected people of color living there.  Because of her parents’ disapproval of her outspoken positions, she changed her name to Luisa Moreno in honor of the Mexican labor organizer, Luis Moreno.   

During the Great Depression, to support her unemployed husband and their daughter, Mrs. Moreno worked in a sweat shop in Spanish Harlem, experiencing first-hand the challenges of long hours for little pay.  Soon, she took a job at a cafeteria and participated in a strike with her co-workers during which her face was bloodied.  Mrs. Moreno joined the Communist Party, having been attracted by its goals of desegregating public facilities, organizing workers, providing relief for those in need, protesting police brutality and the deportation of Mexicans.  She traveled the country, organizing black and Latina cigar rollers in Florida, cane workers in Louisiana, sugar beet workers in Colorado, field and packing house workers in California, as well as tuna packers in San Diego.  Mrs. Moreno became a leader in several union organizations, including the United Cannery Agricultural Packing, and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA).

By 1937, Mrs. Moreno and her husband had divorced, but the single mother was undeterred in her quest for justice.  As a forceful bilingual speaker and writer who was also trustworthy and likeable, she was effective in building coalitions among the diverse groups as she helped people see the oppression that affected them all.  She also organized in San Diego the El Congreso de Pueblos que Hablan Español (the National Spanish-Speaking Congress) that networked Mexican American unions, organizations, clubs and associations.  This triggered an investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

Mrs. Moreno continued her work across the country and married Gray Bemis, a U. S. Navy sailor, in 1947.  They settled in San Diego, but in 1948, after she had applied for U. S. citizenship, the HUAC determined that she was a “dangerous alien”.  As the situation deteriorated and she saw that her associates were being affected by the HUAC’s witch hunt, she and Bemis decided to voluntarily leave the country, moving to Mexico and then back to Guatemala, where they opened some small businesses.  Though she no longer worked as an organizer, Mrs. Moreno’s legacy as an early activist remains etched in the labor movement’s history.


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

Nana Afia Dokuaa

Nana Afia Dokuaa (?-?)

First Woman Ruler of Eastern Ghana

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Nana Afia Dokuaa.

During the early 19th century, Nana Afia Dokuaa ascended to leadership as both King and Queenmother of Ghana.  To date, she is the only female who has held those positions simultaneously.   

In 1817, instead of a male heir of her uncle taking the reins of leadership, Nana Dokuaa ascended the Ofori stool to become the 24th Okyenhene (King) and the Ohemaa (Queenmother) of Okyeman (Akyem Abuakwa) (Ghana) from 1817 to 1835.  She continued the tradition of resisting the overlordship of the Asantes (against whom she battled 99 times) and participated in an anti-Asante alliance of coastal chiefs and the British administration.  Nana Dokuaa led the Akyem Abuakwa contingent in 1826 during the battle of Katamanso, and in 1831, was instrumental in the allied victory at Datamanso and the subsequent treaty that same year that freed Ghana from Asante suzerainty.  

Queenmother Dokuaa organized towns and villages into their current divisions for war and administration purposes.  She also labored to prevent revolts and divisions in her kingdom.

As a warrior, Nana Dokuaa also led several other campaigns, including the Gyadam War.  After a quarrel with the Kotokuhene (rulers), she ordered various soldier troops to force the Kotokus from Gyadam.  Because the neighboring Kwabenghene allowed them to depart peacefully, there was no violence.

The birth of royal male twins to Nana Dokuaa and her husband, Barima Twum Ampofo, inspired the ongoing celebration of "ABAM" (The Twins Day), which is celebrated annually; all twins in Ghana attend.  

Nana Dokuaa’s accomplishments have been immortalized in songs praising her achievements.


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

Amanda Johnson Dunlap

Amanda Johnson Dunlap (1845? – April 16, 1912)

Civil War Cook/Devoted Wife

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Amanda Johnson Dunlap.

Considered to be the first woman who applied for a Civil War pension, Amanda Johnson Dunlap served as a cook in several camps for the Union Army, crossing enemy lines to secure provisions for the commanding officers.  She later married a white man whose mental illness was not a deterrent to her love for him.

Born in slavery around 1845 in Tennessee, Amanda Johnson made her escape after the Civil War began and found safety with the Union troops.  Because of her outstanding culinary skills, she became the private cook of Colonel Cameron.  One day, he was attacked by Confederate soldiers as she was serving him his meal.  She got away on horseback but was permanently separated from that camp.  Mrs. Dunlap then sought refuge in the camp of General John McAllister Schofield.  During the 1864 siege of Nashville, TN, the food supply ran out, so Gen. Schofield signed a passport that ensured Mrs. Dunlap’s safety as she crossed enemy lines to replenish provisions for the troops.

After the war, she traveled to Illinois and married George Dunlap, a White man about twenty years her junior.  The couple lived in Evanston, IL, and throughout their marriage, Mr. Dunlap was repeatedly incarcerated.  He was eventually committed to a mental institution.

Mrs. Dunlap applied for a government pension to supplement her income from cleaning and cooking in local homes.  Though much effort went into securing this support from Washington, DC, her request was denied.  As far as we know, Mrs. Dunlap was the first woman to seek pension payments from the War.
From her deathbed, which was covered with war memorabilia such as buttons, photos and the passport signed by Gen. Schofield, Mrs. Dunlap wrote a letter to a local justice, requesting that he persuade the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic (G. A. R.), a fraternal organization of Union Army veterans, to attend her funeral.  Many of them were present, in recognition of her faithfulness to the Union cause.


  • Evanston Daily News 4/19/1912, 1
  • 1880, 1900, 1910 U. S. Census records

Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

Madam Flora Batson Bergen

Madam Flora Batson Bergen (April 16, 1864 – December 1, 1906)

Queen of Song/Philanthropist

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Madam Flora Batson Bergen.

bergenAs one of the most internationally renowned operatic sopranos of the late 19th century, Flora Batson Bergen was often described as “the greatest colored singer in the world”.  She was also called the “double-voiced queen of song” in acknowledgement of her soprano-baritone range.  

The daughter of a Civil War widow, Mrs. Bergen was born in Washington, DC.  She and her mother relocated to Providence, RI in 1867, where she joined various local choirs.  By 1878, she was singing for Storer College in Harpers Ferry, WV.  Though Mrs. Bergen was offered a full music scholarship at Storer, she decided to continue singing professionally.  Temperance reformer Thomas N. Doutney was her manager, so she participated in many temperance revivals.

In 1885, during a revival at the Masonic Temple in New York City, her rendition of “Six Feet of Earth Make Us All One Size” caught the ear of John G. Bergen, the white manager of the black Bergen Star Concert Company.  Her critically acclaimed performance of the song for ninety consecutive nights led him to invite her to join his group, and within two years, she was an international star.  At the end of 1887, they married in a controversial but beneficial union, as both of their careers flourished.  After John Bergen’s death in 1896, she toured with black basso Gerard Millar, whom she later married.  Her international travels included concerts where she sang before dignitaries such as Pope Leo XIII, Queen Victoria of England, and Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii.

Though opera selections were in her repertoire, her primary genre was the ballad, and Mrs. Bergen often received standing ovations and jewelry in recognition of her title, “The Queen of Song”.  As vaudeville became more popular and her solo engagements decreased, for the remainder of her life, Mrs. Bergen performed primarily for religious organizations and charities.


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven


Audrey Layne Jeffers

Audrey Layne Jeffers (February 12, 1898-June 24, 1968)


During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Audrey Layne Jeffers.

jeffersOften referred to as the “Mother of Trinidadian Philanthropy”, Audrey Layne Jeffers helped to define “community care” by inspiring the wealthy to help the poor.  Born to an upper-class family, her life was dedicated to easing the burdens of poor blacks living in Trinidad and Tobago.  Educated in Great Britain, Miss Jeffers was a founder of the Union of Students of African Descent (later the League of Colored Peoples).  During World War I, she served with West African troops and even established a fund to help those soldiers.  Jeffers was the founder of a Junior School that educated poor black children, and in 1921, she joined other like-minded women to set up feeding programs through the Coterie of Workers so that hungry students would have a mid-day meal.

Over time, the organization, now known as the Coterie of Social Workers, expanded its reach by establishing homes for the elderly, homeless and blind, as well as day care centers. In 1936, she was an honored guest of the Negro Progress Convention in British Guyana, marking the 100th anniversary of slave emancipation.  That May, the Coterie hosted the First Conference of British West Indies and British Guyana Women Social Workers in the Port of Spain, which was the first major women's conference of the English-speaking Caribbean.  Miss Jeffers took advantage of an opportunity to run for public office in October 1936 and became the first woman elected to the Port of Spain City Council.

In 1946, the Governor appointed her to the Legislative Council, and in 1959, she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.  These positions allowed her to expand the work not only in her home country but also throughout the Caribbean.  To this day, many of Miss Jeffers’ methodologies are still in use.   


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

Georgia M. DeBaptiste Faulkner

Georgia M. DeBaptiste Faulkner (November 24, 1867- ?)

Writer/Missionary/Teacher/Social Worker

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Georgia M. DeBapiste Faulkner.

faulknerThe daughter of a Baptist pastor, writer, and missionary, Georgia Mabel DeBaptiste Faulkner distinguished herself as a writer who dedicated herself to education and local and foreign missions.  Born in Chicago to Rev. Richard DeBaptiste, Pastor of Olivet Baptist Church, Miss Faulkner was educated in the local schools.  Her mother, Georgianna, died when she was six years old.  After her high school years, she was published in The Baptist Herald, The Baptist Headlight, The African Mission Herald, and Our Women and Children.  Her interest in music paralleled that of her brother, both of whom were accomplished pianists.

In the 1890s, Miss Faulkner emerged as an early leader in the National Baptist Convention’s Women’s Auxiliary, serving as its President for many years.   She was also President of the Mothers Union, in association with the Missionary Society.  In 1899, she married Henry C. Faulkner, and together they traveled to Liberia, a place to which she returned many times, for missionary work.  Over the years, she taught music and language classes across the country in universities, normal and industrial schools and seminaries in Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Alabama, Virginia and Liberia (where she served as an assistant principal).  Miss Faulkner was also a social worker in New York and Chicago, where she served as the Superintendent for the Home for Business and Working Young Women (supported by the Methodist Episcopal Church, Rock River Conference).   Her other community involvements included the Urban League, the YW C A, the NAACP and the World’s Fellowship of Faiths.  She also organized the Butler Community Center in Chicago. Miss Faulkner’s prolific work on behalf of the communities in which she lived continued the tradition she learned from her father.


Sheyann Webb-Christburg

Sheyann Webb-Christburg (February 17, 1956- )

Lifelong Freedom Fighter

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Sheyann Webb-Christburg.

christburgA participant in the 1965 March across Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge (“Bloody Sunday”), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called 9-year old Sheyann Webb the “youngest freedom fighter”. Today, using her own experiences as an example, Sheyann Webb-Christburg continues to speak about the importance of youth involvement in struggles for social justice.  

One of eight children, Sheyann Webb was born in Selma, AL in 1956 and attended racially segregated public schools.  After a chance encounter with Dr. King outside her church in January 1965, she attended her first meeting to learn about plans for non-violent protests against the unjust voting practices.  Sheyann’s parents, who were active in the Civil Rights Movement, wanted her to be informed but not involved as they sought to protect her from the very real potential for violence and backlash.  Still, eight year-old Sheyann sneaked out at night and skipped classes in order to attend the rallies and demonstrations.  

Over time, Sheyann became a conduit of information for her classmates as well as her teachers, many of whom were afraid to participate for fear of losing their jobs.  During the rallies, Sheyann inspired attendees with her powerful singing, and she grew close to Dr. King, who was moved by her dedication.  After the murder of one protester during a rally, plans were made to march the 54 miles between Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL, the state capital, to present a voting rights petition to Gov. George Wallace.

On March 7, 1965, Sheyann and her teacher, Mrs. Margaret Moore, were part of the group that made the first Montgomery March attempt, which ended in a bloody confrontation with police beating, trampling and gassing marchers who refused to turn back after they had crossed the bridge.  Though she and her family were persecuted as a result of her continued involvement, Sheyann’s passion never waned.  She wasn’t allowed to march on the third attempt, but she did participate at the successful rally in Montgomery.  National television exposure to the violence led President Lyndon B. Johnson to propose and sign the Voting Rights Act soon after.  Sheyann asked her parents to register to vote as their birthday present to her.  Agreeing to her request, the first time they voted, they took her along as a witness.


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

Carrie Crawford Smith

Carrie Crawford Smith (February 7, 1877 – November 19, 1954)
Educator/Employment Agency Owner

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Carrie Crawford Smith.

SmithCarrie G. Crawford, a native of Nashville, TN, graduated from Fisk University in 1897.  After teaching in various Southern schools, she relocated to Illinois and married Edward A. Smith, a scavenger, in 1907.  In 1916, the family, with five children in tow, relocated to Evanston, IL during the first Great Migration.[1]   She opened the Smith Employment Agency in 1918 that provided “Select Help for Private Families”, according to an advertisement of the time.  Mrs. Smith, who hired both black and white women, wrote the “Smith Employment Agency Standards and Principles”.  This contract explicitly stated that employers were not to put their black employees in any degrading situations.  For more than 40 years, she tenaciously maintained her high standards not only for employers but also for employees.  Mrs. Smith was known to withdraw women from homes when her rules were violated.

In the 1920s, with her marriage ended, Mrs. Smith continued to build her business by adhering to high performance standards.  At the same time, she was actively involved in the Evanston community via the NAACP, the Matilda Dunbar Club, the Evanston Interracial Council and the Ebenezer A. M. E. church.  Mrs. Smith also taught Work Projects Administration (WPA) [2] classes during World War II and continued her education through reading and local studies.  After her death, her sons continued the agency for a time.

1 The first Great Migration was a movement of blacks from the South to urban cities in the Northeast, Midwest [1910-1930]. 

2 The Works Projects Administration was a New Deal agency during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency that provided job opportunities in construction, the fine arts, and literacy projects. 


Compiled by Rhonda K. Craven

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