A witness to the contributions and legacy
of our historically African American Churches
and a call to all to learn about, respect, and celebrate
the gifts of our black sisters and brothers.
Anyone that attends church in the Parkersburg area most likely knows about the Logan Memorial UMC Praise Band. They have reached a certain level of fame around those parts for their Blues-infused renditions of classic hymns and spirituals and superb musicianship.
In 2017 that virtuosity was on full display at Wesley Chapel during Annual Conference, as the band shared their gifts during an evening worship service honoring the conference’s historically African-American churches. It was a worship service lauded by those in attendance.
“It was a great time, man. It was way more than I expected,” band member Deric Davis says of that weekend nearly four years ago in Buckhannon. “We had a good time that trip.”
But it was a trip that was memorable for more than just great music. For Davis, who was still recovering from double lung transplant surgery performed that February, it was a time of spiritual recovery too. He had rejoined his bandmates, doing what he feels God has called him to do – honor God through music.
Davis says of the experience that “it was great to be back with the band.” Only he was back in a different sort of way, fulfilling his role in a different capacity – a role that almost didn’t happen.
Prior to the surgery, Davis was one of the group’s featured vocalists, but a paralyzed vocal cord stemming from multiple intubations during his 57-day, post-transplant hospitalization changed all that.
“Not being able to sing like I was able to before was very stressful” Davis, who has an autoimmune disease that produces more antibodies than needed, which in turn attacked his lungs and thus caused the need for the transplant, says. “I more or less determined that my time with the band was over.”
His bandmates, however, determined differently.
Walking through the airport in the immediate aftermath of the 1965 march from Selma to Alabama’s state capital of Montgomery to demand voting rights for that state’s African-American citizens – an event that left many marchers battered and bruised – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. felt he caught a glimpse of beloved community. Seeing participants of the march from every ethnicity, gender, religious, and socioeconomic background crowded together awaiting flights back to their respective homes in harmony with one another – at one with each other, he would later write that “I knew I was seeing a microcosm of the mankind of the future in this moment of luminous and genuine brotherhood.”
Last February, in the immediate aftermath of an event that left Fairmont’s Trinity UMC faith community mentally, spiritually, and emotionally battered and bruised, Charlotte Meade feels like she too glimpsed a moment of genuine humanity at its finest when people from all parts of the community came together in solidarity to help with the cleanup effort.
Spotlight Church: Asbury United Methodist Church, Moorefield, Potomac Highlands District
Asbury United Methodist Church in Moorefield, WV originated as Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1870s. In November of 1887, the first building was situated on land that the trustees purchased. The congregation experienced spiritual growth through class meetings, prayer meetings, and revivals.
The trustees and members of Asbury worked with various ministers for the spiritual growth of the community despite being in a very old building. In October of 1921, Asbury’s leaders pledged to build a new place of worship on the same site. The old building was torn down and services were held in the Community Hall until the present building was partially completed.
The new church building was made possible by a lot of hard work, unselfish giving by Asbury members and large donations from other community members. The current building was dedicated in 1926. Nearly 50 years later, Asbury became a member of the West Virginia Conference, Romney District and Moorefield Charge.
Asbury United Methodist Church has celebrated God’s grace through worship, special programs, inspirational services known as the Four Nights for God, community involvement, special concerts of sacred music, mission work in Jamaica, Sunday School, youth groups, an active unit of United Methodist Women, and joint Bible Schools, baptisms, professions of faith, congregational reaffirmations of faith, prayer blanket ministry, assisting the local food pantry, supporting Burlington Children’s Home in various ways, donate supplies to schools, and assisting terminally ill people. Asbury has learned to embrace change and the promises of God.
Join us in celebrating our historically African American Churches with this video tribute.
Notable African-American Methodists from West Virginia
Rev. Homer Davis: WVUMC mourns the loss of Rev. Davis on January 27, 2021. Rev. Davis was one of the first African-American District Superintendents appointed in the West Virginia Conference, serving from 1982-1988 under Bishop William Boyd Grove.
Katherine Johnson: When the movie "Hidden Figures" came out, it brought to the forefront the contributions of Katherine Johnson to the space program. She was not only a brilliant mind, but she was also a West Virginian and a United Methodist.
On behalf of West Virginia Bishops S. Clifton Ives, William Boyd Grove, Ernest Lyght, and Sandra Steiner Ball, as well as Rev. Dr. Ken Ramsey, who helped the bishops pull this project together, it is my honor to invite you into our Conversations from the Porch.
This conversation, separated into three video segments, was created out of a desire to invite individuals and congregations into a conversation that would raise our individual and collective awareness regarding racism and challenge us to the work we need to do within our own beings and in our communities to eliminate racism.
This fall, WVUMC participated in the 30 Days of Anti-Racism, using prompts from the General Commission on Religion and Race. From those prompts and daily posts, we've put together some practical resources for how to embrace anti-racism. From prayers to intercultural conversations to supporting Black artists and authors, there are a variety of ideas for how to take steps toward anti-racism.