Prelude Blog

Giving Credit, Context, and Compensation to the Communities That Created the Spirituals

Posted on Jun 18, 2024 9:00:00 AM by Andrea Baxter in Music Ministry, in race, in music, in spiritual

As Lutherans, we recognize that “faith is active in love [and] love calls for justice in relationships and structures of society” (ELCA, Social Statement on Church in Society, 1991). That call to strive for justice took on new meaning for my congregation in 2020 when many were struggling anew with the effects of racism. Initial efforts to wrestle with the topic included book studies, small group conversations, and partnerships with other congregations in our neighboring city of Philadelphia. Along the way, we discussed African American spirituals and their use in enriching our worship. Was this use of spirituals considered cultural appropriation? How could we continue to use them in a way that was sensitive and respectful?

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