Are you wondering how to celebrate Black History Month in meaningful ways that avoid trivializing a history full of mistreatment of Black people? Consider partnering with and supporting ministries that seek to address poverty, social disparities and deprivation in marginalized communities. Patronize Black-owned businesses and acknowledge hard-working Black leaders in your local community and church.
Partnering with ministries
Pastors Jonathan and Cora Brown are the leaders of Church Without Walls, a Mennonite church in Elkhart, Indiana, and a partner of Mennonite Mission Network.
Church Without Walls began, in 1991, as a church plant with the goal of establishing a multi-racial congregation. In 2001, the church formed a community outreach service for homeless women — Emerge Ministries (EM). Today, this ministry provides life skills development, as well as homelessness prevention through homes built by Pastor Jonathan Brown. Pastor Cora Brown embraced this vision, as she sought to provide stability for families recovering from hardships, by drawing in faith-based organizations, state and local governments, and community agencies. In addition to helping secure temporary housing, Pastor Cora invites female leaders at Church Without Walls to be witnesses and provide assistance, service and training to women and families.
The outreach receives referrals through local and federal government assessment programs, including federal housing development and programs that assess homelessness risks for women and children, which are commonly caused by domestic abuse or poverty. Mission Network partners with EM to provide food and other necessities for the homeless center, as well as offering training to support EM's leadership team.
Patronize Black-owned businesses
When treating someone to breakfast or lunch, buying unique gifts, or browsing for books with stories about Black history, consider shopping at a local, Black-owned business. Create a list of Black-owned businesses in your local area and remind friends and family to check them out — this practice establishes ongoing support that creates positive economic and social change. Browse the web to find Black-owned businesses in your area. Invite others to share their experiences on social media.
Black history continues for more than a month, and it should be celebrated beyond the month of February. Think about what continuing the celebration looks like. Inspire your church to build financial support for mission and service opportunities in collaboration with Black leaders and ministries.
Supporting Black-owned businesses and church ministries helps dispel stereotypes, encourages disciples in the churches, and deepens awareness of businesses serving the local communities. It also helps close the racial wealth gap, creates jobs and amplifies Black voices, while strengthening leaders in their communities. How will you celebrate Black history beyond the month of February?