For the last few years, Westminster Presbyterian Church’s Reparative Justice Working Group has been learning about the historic harms to Black and Indigenous Communities as a result of the prevailing culture of white supremacy, and exploring ways in which Westminster might support the work of restitution for and repair of the destructive legacy of those harms.
As part of that effort, Westminster launched a Royalties for Negro Spirituals Program in 2023. (The term “Negro” in reference to spirituals is preferred by contemporary Black musicians who use this term out of respect for the historical context in which this body of music arose.) Westminster’s program is an attempt to make restitution for centuries of appropriation of Negro Spirituals by predominantly white churches without attribution or recognition, let alone compensation. Westminster’s worship services have drawn from this rich musical tradition frequently over the years. As a result, beginning in 2023, special offerings made by the congregation whenever Negro Spirituals are sung or played in worship, matched by church mission funds, will be paid by the church to two designated non-profit groups. The royalty offerings will be used to support music education for the youth served by City of Promise, as well as Voices of Jubilee, the gospel choir of the Presbyterian Worship Community housed at Bon Air Juvenile Correction Center in Chesterfield County.
Westminster is happy to host A Celebration of Black Spirituals on Saturday, October 14, and Sunday, October 15. Dr. Brandon Boyd, Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Choral Music Education at the University of Missouri, will offer insight on the importance of and the performance practices involved in singing Black Spirituals. Please plan to attend this exciting event hosted by the Westminster Lectureship Fund of Westminster Presbyterian Church.
The weekend includes a Saturday lecture from 1 to 2 p.m., a community choir workshop from 2:15 through 5:15 p.m., a catered dinner, and a 7:30 p.m. concert given by the workshop participants. The concert will be open to the public free of charge, but donations are always welcome. On Sunday, Dr. Boyd will lead a class from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and direct the Westminster choir in worship at 11 a.m.
To register, click here or use the QR code found in the bottom left hand corner of the attached poster. Your registration will help us know how many people to expect for the free lecture and choir workshop on Saturday. If you register for the choir workshop you will receive PDF copies of the music via email. Published copies will be made available the day of the workshop. Registering will also allow you to pay $12 for the catered dinner if you would like to stay for dinner between the workshop and concert.