Harris Highlights Black Church Traditions

Thanks to Upper School Counselor Candy Harris for a heartfelt chapel program highlighting the history and customs of the Black church through her personal experience. And special thanks to the Ridgeway High School Concert and Men’s Choirs for a stirring performance of gospel music.
Self-professed “Church Girl,” Upper School Counselor Candy Harris, spoke in chapel about the history and traditions of the Black church, which she described as a place of racial and individual self-affirmation, teaching and learning, psychological and spiritual sustenance, and hope and community. In her personal experience, church has provided all these opportunities.

The custom of wearing her “Sunday best,” complete with a hat, to church, was ingrained from an early age by her mother, Mrs. Peggy Maclin. Mrs. Maclin – in her Sunday best and wearing a hat, of course – was in the audience, along with Mrs. Harris’s father, Mr. Jerry Maclin, and her husband, Mr. Marcus Harris.  

Church provided an opportunity where Harris could discover and exercise her talents, she said.

“It was at church that I was first given public speaking opportunities. It was at church that I was trusted with leadership roles in education while working with the youth. … Finally, the Black church is where I sang my first duet with my sister. It is where I watched both grandfathers sing all over the South in their quartet groups and where I developed a forever love for gospel music.”

Describing the evolution of gospel music from Negro spirituals, she led the congregation in a call-and-response song before introducing her special guests: the Ridgeway High School Concert and Men’s Choirs, led by her college friend Ms. Rosalyn Lake.

After a stirring gospel performance, Harris said, “Although it’s beautiful to celebrate our differences here on earth, in heaven there will be no black church, white church, or denominations. … Remember, church (not Black church, not white church, or a denomination) can be all of these things for you if you allow it. Now, let the church say AMEN!”