Black Church Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary

April 24, 2017

10 a.m. Sunday, April 30, Herrick Chapel

Rev. Moses Mason
Black Church at Grinnell will celebrate 20 years of monthly worship in Black (African-American, African-Caribbean, and African) Christian traditions on Sunday, April 30, 2017.

The Rev. Moses Mason ’99 will preach and the Young, Gifted and Black Gospel Choir, with alumni joining, will lead spirited singing.

The free, public celebration will start at 10 a.m. in Herrick Chapel, 1128 Park St., Grinnell.

Black Church at Grinnell was started by the Reverend Deanna Shorb, dean of religious life and chaplain who, in her first year at the College, created the service with students who were interested in working with Shorb to develop a monthly Christian worship service for students who were raised in predominantly African American Christian churches. Guest preacher Mason was a founding student leader along with the late Jocelyn Prewitt-Stanley ’99.  For nearly twenty years, the monthly services have been planned by Shorb and a leadership team of Grinnell students.

The Young Gifted and Black Gospel Choir (YGB) has been an essential part of worship throughout these twenty years and has been advised by Michael Sims, director of campus center operations and student activities.  Sims coordinates annual concerts and the spring break tour for the choir.  For more than a dozen years, YGB has been directed by Barry Jones, music minister at Corinthian Baptist Church in Des Moines.

Over the years, that team has been very diverse and the name Black Church at Grinnell was chosen and has continued to be most apt and inclusive, because the students are African-American as well as Black international students — especially from Jamaica and various African countries. Each month, Shorb invites a guest preacher from a nearby city. Over the years, preachers have been invited from many denominations including: Missionary Baptist, Pentecostal, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Church of God, and other congregations recommended by the Black Ministerial Alliance — largely from the Des Moines Area. For the last few years, many services have been led by The Rev. Benjamin Nicks who was an associate minister at Corinthian Baptist Church in Des Moines, but has recently relocated to Bloomington, Illinois.

The guest preacher for this anniversary service, Mason is a native of Houston, Texas. He majored in religious studies and history at Grinnell. In 2004, he received a Master of Divinity degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Mason has had a variety of educational and ministerial experiences, serving in various capacities promoting living and learning in diverse communities. He worked as a high school residential counselor at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. He was also a youth pastor at Progressive Baptist Church in suburban Chicago. At one point, Mason returned to Grinnell to be the Lilly Religious Life Intern in the Chaplain's Office.

Since returning to Houston in 2008, Mason has continued to work and volunteer in different educational and religious settings. He ministered to patients in the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System as a chaplain. Currently, he is a Texas & U.S. history teacher at Stevenson Middle School in the Houston Independent School District. He is a member of Covenant Baptist Church, where he serves as a mentor to youth in the church. 

The Grinnell College Center for Religion, Spirituality and Social Justice is sponsoring this event.

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