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A Legacy of Faith

By Camille Holland
In eLetter
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This year as I process Black History Month, I am drawn to the memories of women in my family and the legacy of faith that they built in my life. As a black female pastor in a mostly white church, I have struggled with believing that I am qualified for the position I hold. That perhaps some would only see me as a diversity hire or a check box. When I begin to believe those lies, God reminds me that I come from a long line of black women of faith.

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting next to my grandmother in church, tapping my toe to the music. It's one of my earliest and most favorite memories. The church was full of people, the music filled my ears, the women fanned themselves with paper fans as they sat underneath big hats, and my grandmother sat next to me wearing white gloves. The gloves were a sign that she was an usher that Sunday morning. It was an important position in the all-black church I grew up in and reserved for people with godly character and wisdom. This was my first picture of a woman in leadership within the church.

My second picture came when I was in middle school at a family reunion in North Carolina. On Sunday morning, we all gathered at my grandmother's church for service. Instead of the male senior pastor giving the message, my oldest cousin, Carol, preached the word of God to the congregation. At first I thought she was just going to make an introduction or read a passage of scripture. But she preached. She preached with authority, clarity, and passion.

Over the years, I continued to see women in my family lead, preach, and pursue Christ with passion and faithfulness. Now that God has assigned me the role of pastor, he is constantly reminding me of these women—and that my voice matters.

To learn more about the journey of women in the black church, watch the documentary “The Black Church.” You can learn more about that here.

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