Excerpt from Judson Press book featured in exhibit at newly opened museum

The staff at American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) publishing ministry—Judson Press—is both surprised and delighted to learn that a sentence from one of its published reference works features prominently in an exhibition at the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C. And, that’s not all. The author himself—the Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle—is both surprised and delighted, too.

“We are thrilled with the recognition of Dr. McMickle in the National Museum of African American History and Culture—and with the highlighting of content from a Judson Press book,” says Laura Alden, Judson Press publisher. “My hope is that the inclusion of the quote from McMickle’s encyclopedia will attract even more readers to appreciate the richness of this resource.”

Engraved in a wall at the museum is this sentence from the 304-page “An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage” published in 2002: “Nineteenth-century black churches ministered to the needs of the soul and served a host of secular functions, which placed them squarely in the center of black social life.” The engraving includes McMickle’s full name and the encyclopedia’s publication year.

Neither Judson Press nor McMickle were contacted by the museum before or after the display was created. Instead, McMickle explains, a friend happened upon it as a visitor to the museum on opening day.

“I can’t imagine what would have happened if I was walking through the museum and I had stumbled upon it myself. I might have had a heart attack,” laughs McMickle, president of Colgate Rochester (N.Y.) Crozer Divinity School. “I would have thought they would have at least alerted you to it, due to the fact that this is engraved into the wall. It’s going to be there for a long time.”

The situation is made even more interesting by the fact that the exhibit also features a photograph and text about Chicago’s Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, where McMickle’s father had been a member.

“It makes it all the more amazing,” McMickle marvels.

When another friend shared with him a photograph that shows both the church reference and the engraved wall, McMickle says that he noted the existence of several Quinn Chapel AME churches. He, therefore, asked the friend to return to the museum to confirm that the featured church is the one in Chicago.

“That’s interesting,” McMickle says. “Here is my quote within the context of a display that also features my father’s home church. And I had no knowledge of either one.”

McMickle says that he and his family plan to visit the museum in a few months, when the ticket waiting list decreases.

Opened in Sept. 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Book offers comprehensive look at African-American religious tradition

The Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle’s “An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage” (Judson Press, 2002) is a comprehensive look at African-American religious tradition from the 17th century to the Civil Rights Movement. It is divided into sections about historical figures, terms and movements.

“My experience had been that very few people have a comprehensive knowledge of African-American religious traditions,” McMickle says about his inspiration for writing the reference work. “They may know something about their own denomination or their own local church, but they may not know much about the figures in history or movements that emerged.”

Publishers Weekly wrote: “With nearly 200 entries on the people, places and theological developments of the black church in America, Marvin McMickle’s ‘An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage’ provides a valuable historical resource. Despite the title, the entries are not exclusively Christian; controversial prophets such as Father Divine, Charles ‘Daddy’ Grace and the Noble Drew Ali join traditional church leaders like Howard Thurman and Adam Clayton Powell. One especially welcome feature that distinguishes this from other reference books on African-American Christianity is its up-to-date inclusion of current leaders such as Cornel West, T.D. Jakes and Katie Cannon.”

Before becoming president at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, McMickle was a professor at Ashland (Ohio) Theological Seminary and taught at several other higher learning institutions. For nearly 25 years, he was pastor at Antioch Baptist Church, Cleveland. He has authored a dozen books with Judson Press, including his most recent, “Be My Witness: The Great Commission for Preachers” (2016).