February, 18, 2016

Black Church History Saints: Exemplars of Sacrifice and Faith

Early Church Saints Black
By Jessica Reschke

One of my favorite parts about being a Gallery Educator is being able to help run and organize the Family Home Evening programs. This month I have especially enjoyed participating with our Black Church History FHE programs. I have been able to learn more about the stories of early African- American Saints and pioneers, the sacrifices that they made, the trials that they faced, and the important impacts they had in the work of the Lord. From hearing the stories of some of these Saints, including Jane Manning James, Samuel Chambers, and Green Flake, I was deeply touched by their faith in the Savior, and their dedication to the gospel, despite some of the burdens that they faced, such as slavery. Although they might not have been considered equals in the sight of all men at the time, they knew that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ loved them equally. Fortunately in today’s society we have progressed in treating others with equality, but there is always more room for loving others. The messages of these stories made me want to strive to be more loving to all of my brothers and sisters and to help them to recognize that they are each all children of God.

Furthermore, the examples of these Saints made me realize more how important it is to truly be converted to the Lord. These African- American Saints encountered several trials that could have prevented them from joining or being active in the Church. Instead, they loved the Lord so much and had a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel that they were willing to make great sacrifices. For example, after Samuel Chambers was baptized he was not able to travel to Nauvoo from the South to join other members because he was a slave and still considered property. Even though at this time Samuel was not surrounded by other members of the Church to help him grow in the gospel, he was individually able to build his own testimony. Once he was freed as a slave, he worked for several more years to save up money, and was eventually able to make a trek with his family to Utah to join the Saints [1]. I have been fortunate to grow up in a family with the gospel and to be surrounded by strong Church leaders, so Samuel Chambers is a great example to me of having great individual faith relying on personal testimony.

As February is Black History Month, I am grateful that in the gallery we are able to recognize several of the exemplary Black members from Church history, and learn from their examples of love, sacrifice, faith, and testimony.

[1] “Saints without the Priesthood: The Collected Testimonies of Ex-Slave Samuel D. Chambers.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12. 1979. Print.
[2] Samuel and Amanda Chambers. n.d., Web. 03 Feb. 2016.