Worship Service Will Mark 500th
Anniversary of Slavery in
Posted September 4, 2001
HOLLAND -- Participants from Holland and Hope
College will come together for a worship service scheduled
for Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel
in observance of the 500th anniversary of the introduction
of slavery into the Americas.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
The "Sankofa" service has been scheduled in
conjunction with a call from the National Black Catholic
Clergy Caucus (NBCCC) for observances throughout the
hemisphere to mark the anniversary.
According to the NBCCC, the first African slave to
be transported for labor to the Americas arrived in
Hispaniola--today Haiti and the Dominican Republic--in 1501,
less than a decade after the first voyage of Christopher
Columbus. The group's call for observance notes, "We take
this historical moment in the history of humankind to
challenge ourselves, all people of goodwill, the Roman
Catholic Church and all those with a Christian conscience to
examine the issue of racism in our lives, society and
The NBCCC describes "Sankofa" as a Western African
term "that calls a person, or a people, to look back to
their past for wisdom to discern their future." The
services will focus on redemption as exemplified by the
biblical story of Joseph; repentance for racial dysfunction;
reconciliation; and restoration of unity.
The 90-minute service at Hope is being organized
by the college's Phelps Scholars Program in conjunction with
the Ottawa Area Summit on Racism and local citizens.
"The proclamation written by the National Black
Catholic Clergy Caucus is a powerful statement of the impact
of slavery on all Americans--white, black, Native and
Latino," said Dr. Charles Green, who is director of the
Phelps Scholars Program and a professor of psychology at
"As we worship on September 16, we will recall
nearly 400 years of slavery in the Americas," he said. "But
we also will focus on the enduring legacy of a racism rooted
in slavery, and celebrate the contributions of a people
strong enough to survive and to succeed in spite of horrific
The sermon will be delivered by the Rev. Wayne
Coleman, pastor of the Church of the Burning Bush. The
invocation and benediction will be by Dr. Timothy Brown, who
is the Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel at Hope and the
Henry Bast Professor of Preaching at Western Theological
Seminary. Dr. Fred Johnson III, assistant professor of
history at Hope, will provide an overview of slavery in the
Americas. The Rev. Roosevelt Hunter, pastor of Holland
First Assembly of God, will lead a prayer.
The Church of the Burning Bush Community Outreach
Tabernacle Choir will sing during the service. Elder Bill
Dunlop, who is a Native American story teller, and Tracy
Jaeger, who is director of Native American Community
Services of Kent County, will sing "Amazing Grace" in
Cherokee. Congregational singing will be led by C.J. Grier,
who is director of the Hope College Gospel Choir and
minister of fine arts at Maple Avenue Ministries.
Several other members of the Hope and Holland
communities will also participate in the event.
The college's Phelps Scholars Program is a
multicultural program available to Hope freshmen from all
racial/ethnic backgrounds, and is designed to facilitate
their enjoyable transition to Hope and to provide the
foundation for four productive years as members of the
student body. The Ottawa Area Summit on Racism, sponsored
by the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, is a broad-based
effort to overcome racial barriers in the community. The
National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus serves as a fraternity
for Black Catholic clergy, and supports the spiritual,
theological, educational and ministerial growth of its
members and combats institutional racism within the Catholic
Church and in American society generally.
Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located on College
Avenue at 12th Street.