Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
R. Clifford Jones
For the past ten years, the Faith Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hartford, Connecticut has not been very successful at winning African American males. It appears that this is because a significant number of African American males hold the Bible as “the white man’s book” and a tool of enslavement that has no relevance today. This makes our traditional evangelistic approach and materials ineffective.
The project was to (1) raise the level of awareness about the dilemma of the African American male, (2) examine the factors that have led to the negative stereotype and their unwillingness to attend church, (3) establish a biblical foundation for the development of a strategy to reach them, and (4) develop a model for drawing African American males to the Faith Seventh-day Adventist Church in the north end section of Hartford, Connecticut, where Faith is located. The project informed and offered practical skills on how to reach the African American males. It involved a six-week seminar meeting three nights per week covering fourteen lessons known as the Black Heritage Bible Lessons which teach the Advent message from a culturally sensitive perspective by highlighting a person or nation of color in the Bible. A graduation program was planned with an appeal for baptisms at the end of the seminar. The seminar was advertised in local community papers and though it was designed to target black males, no restriction was made as to who could register. All fourteen lessons were given to the registered participant at the beginning of the seminar, and they were told to complete each lesson before returning to the next class. At the end of the classes, all participants who attended every seminar were invited to a graduation ceremony where they received a certificate and a gift.
In the project, nineteen men and eleven women registered for the Black Heritage Bible Seminar and fifteen men and ten women eventually attended. Of the men that attended, eleven came every night and graduated from the seminar, with three getting baptized along with four women. The Black Heritage Bible Lessons used in the seminar did highlight the fact that African culture did have an impact upon the Bible. There was discussion on Moses being described as an Egyptian (Exod 2:19), Egypt being a country on the Continent of Africa, the Apostle Paul mistaken for being from the same country (Acts 21:38), and that these two men are responsible for nearly two thirds of the books of the Bible.
A higher percentage of black men are attracted by the black heritage approach to evangelism than are women. Black history and culture was very attractive to the black male. A traditional evangelistic event would have attracted nine males and twenty-one females, while the “black heritage approach” nearly reversed the trend completely by attracting nineteen men and eleven females. Seventy-five percent of the people who showed for the seminar were black men, and forty-three percent of the baptismal candidates. So the percentage of men completing the seminar and graduating nearly tripled that of the females who attended and graduated, which is unheard of in traditional evangelism.
African Americans--Missions--Connecticut; Evangelistic work--Connecticut--Hartford; Evangelistic work--Seventh-day Adventists; Faith Seventh-day Adventist Church (Hartford, Conn.); Bible--Use
Williams, Stephen L. Sr., "Reaching African American Males In Hartford, CT, Through The Use Of Black Heritage Bible Studies" (2011). Dissertation Projects DMin. 437.
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