The African American Lectionary

The African American Lectionary:

One important lectionary alternative is the African American Lectionary, developed by the Reverend Martha Simmons and an ecumenical team of scholars, preachers, and musicians.[1] Supported by funding from the Lilly Endowment, the lectionary’s first year was 2008.  In accordance with African American preaching and worship practices, the African American Lectionary includes one (or occasionally two) Scripture readings per Sunday or special day, rather than four.  The African American Lectionary respects the basic outline of the church year, although it does not move semicontinuously through one of the Gospels in a year.  Each lectionary day has a theme related to the ecumenical liturgical year, African American history and culture, or African American church traditions and practices.  For each day, the African American Lectionary website provides commentary, worship, cultural, and video resources.

The African American Lectionary is a crucial model of a complete Lectionary Mod or, more than that, a complete lectionary alternative, because it exemplifies much of what this thesis advocates.  First, the lectionary is collaborative, with an active, diverse, frequently changing team shaping and fleshing out the lectionary over time.  The lectionary will continue to be developed through at least 2014.  The African American Lectionary demonstrates that it is not necessary to have a static lectionary for the collaborative creation and sharing of quality preaching and worship resources.  Second, the lectionary is flexible and adaptable to different contexts.  Since the lectionary usually has only one Scripture text per Sunday, which are chosen from anywhere in Scripture, congregations that choose to add a weekly semicontinuous Gospel reading, for example, are free to do so.  Third, the African American Lectionary is unashamedly relevant to contemporary African American life and culture.  Daily themes, for example, include Women’s Day, Men’s Day, Youth and Education Day, Children and Health Day, Anti-Domestic Violence Day, and Economic Justice Day.

[1]The African American Pulpit and American Baptist College, “The African American Lectionary,” (accessed April 14, 2011).