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The African American Lectionary

The African American Lectionary: www.theafricanamericanlectionary.org

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,” www.theafricanamericanlectionary.org (accessed April 14, 2011).

4 comments

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  1. walter Bowden

    I am a A.M.E. associate minister and ordain Elder. i love this site and well be visiting it
    when ever i need some good theological reflections. the relative discussions are
    valuable for preaching and teaching in today’s Church. we must admit that we are
    facing the old problems in a new age of thought our youth do not really understand
    the meaning of the Black Church and its unique place in American history. . I feel
    committed to revising our story for the advancement of my people. I long to continue
    my studies and Biblical scholarship with a concern for the spiritual and emotional
    growth of both self and others. Thank you for the site and for allowing for comments
    the grace of our Lord and savior and his eternal peace be with you and yours.

    1. Eric Lemonholm

      Thank you, brother Walter, and God bless you and your ministry.

  2. Vanessa

    Hello! This is very interesting. I am formatting a program for my sister’s wedding in Mandeville Jamaica and have been asked to use the readings from the African American Lectionary. Is the actual text in this lectionary derived from the New Revised Standard Version of the bible? Or English Standard Version (ESV), NIV, or TNIV? Maybe a mix of all?
    Thank you in advance for your help!

    1. Eric Lemonholm

      The African American Lectionary is independent of the Revised Common Lectionary, and can use any Bible translation. I hope the wedding is wonderful! What texts are you using for the wedding?

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