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Latter-day Saints celebrate inclusion, unity, and Black History Month in Texas

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Image courtesy of Jill Taylor.

An evening of music and messages on Sunday, February 19, 2023, at the Plano Texas Stake center commemorated Black History Month and was widely attended by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their neighbors and friends.

The event—titled “Stories of Faith by Black American Latter-day Saints”—celebrated various cultures and featured poems and gospel songs.

Elder Paul B. Pieper, General Authority Seventy and president of the North America Southwest Area, said the event came about from a desire to expand the message of unity.

“We’ve been talking [about] how do we do a better job of helping the Church look the same inside our buildings as it does outside in our communities,” Elder Pieper said. “Asking how we can do a better job connecting with cultures so they can feel like we are a place where they would like to be, and they know we want them to be there with us.”

Around 900 people attended in person, and more than 1,000 members watched virtually in Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nevada, and Arizona.

Author and African-American advocate Alice Faulkner Burch addressed the congregation. She recently released a collection of faithful stories of Black American members of the Church titled My Lord, He Calls Me and is passionate about inspiring inclusion and unity among members.

▶You may also like: Why editor Alice Faulkner Burch says a new compilation of Black Latter-day Saint testimonies is a gift for all

“To see the entire chapel filled with people that came to attend was so beautiful, but more so all the people that stayed around. … They didn’t want to leave because of what they experienced and what the Holy Spirit shared with them,” Burch said.

My Lord, He Calls Me

Though Black members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have only had full access to the priesthood and the ordinances of the temple since 1978, there have been faithful Black members of the Church since the beginning. Both early and contemporary members have been faithful in the face of criticism from both inside and outside the Church. My Lord, He Calls Me is a new essay compilation by active Black American Latter-day Saints whose ancestors were brought to the United States from Africa and enslaved. They share their conversion stories, what life was like during the priesthood restriction, and why they remain in the Church. Though all will benefit from it, this book was created especially by and for Black members as support and encouragement. Readers will be inspired by the faith, testimony, endurance, wisdom, and spiritual strength of these faithful Saints.

► You may also like: Why the Savior’s example will always compel me to seek a more inclusive world

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