Black History Month is a time to celebrate black history but also cultural history and ethnic diversity, said an Atlanta, Ga., pastor.

“We do not emphasize black history but cultural history,” said Emmanuel McCall, pastor of Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., and vice-chair of BCE’s board of directors, about the church’s celebration of Black History Month.

Engaging congregational members in celebration of various nationalities within the church is educational for the congregation, as well as affirming for those who are given opportunity to tell about their native cultures.

“[The month] becomes an opportunity to celebrate our oneness in Christ,” he said. “But that cultural expression is not limited to February. Anytime during the year we might do something special, regardless of the calendar.”

Though McCall’s church once celebrated Black History Month specifically, they now have a broader celebration of cultural and ethnic diversity, he said.

“The reason for that [broadening] is we are a multi-cultural church,” he said. “We have 14 different nationalities. If [congregational members] come from a nation where English is not the basic language, we give them a chance to lead our service in their own language…or take five minutes to talk about their nation.”

The church also displays “significant art pieces” as well as information about “significant personalities or significant events” representing various nations and also African-American heritage.

McCall suggests churches who wish to celebrate their cultural diversity can have a “cultural dinner.” People fellowship and taste-test after bringing a favorite native dish, providing on a card the name of the dish and its country of origin.

Though black history is not emphasized specifically in his church, McCall said concentrating on black history during February is as educational and helpful as highlighting a church’s cultural diversity.

“The importance of Black History Month is that of informing black people of their past,” he said. “Often they did not get it in school. There is rare exposure to black history, either religious or secular history,” he said.

Sarah Griffith is BCE’s communications director.

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