Celebrating Black History Month

February 10, 2014

By Melissa McCutchan

CIU Student Writer


Columbia International University celebrated Black History Month with a week of special Chapel services Feb. 3-6, hosted by the African American Student Association (AASA).

The Chapels included African-American speakers from the CIU and Columbia communities, each of whom focused on AASA’s theme for the week: the gospel. 

“We chose the theme of the gospel because that is the most important thing,” AASA president and senior Ricki Blakeney said. “Jesus should be at the center of everything that we do. This theme allowed for that to be the reality.”

Monday’s message was delivered by James McCall, who is the associate director of undergraduate admissions at CIU. His message focused on the gospel in African-American history.

Tuesday brought a message from CIU alumnus Andre Melvin, who directs the CIU Prison Initiative and pastors Temple Zion Baptist Church near the CIU campus.  Preaching from 1 Corinthians 12, he spoke about the gospel in diversity.

“You and I are different,” Melvin said. “We have different gifts, different passions … we are to recognize our need for each other. We need each and every member of the body.”

Melvin was followed on Wednesday by CIU alumnus Brooks Heard, who serves as pastor at Augusta (Ga.) Full Gospel Church. Heard preached on the gospel in unity, and emphasized Christ’s command to serve one another in love.

“Sometimes service will cost you,” Heard said. “Is anyone willing to serve recklessly?”

The chapel series concluded on Thursday with a message from The Rev. Fred Coit, who pastors Ridgewood Missionary Baptist Church in Columbia. Coit challenged students to be a light to the community, while growing in their relationship with the ultimate Light, Jesus Christ.

CIU’s Black History Week exposed students to African-American culture and a challenge from the Word of God. It ended Friday evening with a free showing of the movie “42,” the story of the life of Major League Baseball’s first African-American, Jackie Robinson.   

“AASA wants CIU to be similar to the mission field, in that we encounter different cultures and different people,” the AASA’s Blakeney said. “But more importantly, we want to be an image of heaven, where [people] from every tongue tribe and nation will join together in perfect worship.”

The Chapel messages delivered Black History Week can be heard at: http://podcast.ciu.edu/.