Black History Month - University of Houston
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Black History Month

In recognition and observance of Black History Month, A.D. Bruce Religion Center and the Campus Ministries Association at the University of Houston would like to acknowledge the following Black Worship Leaders.

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.

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    Sheikh Ammar AlShukry

    Sheikh Ammar hails from Sudan via Queens, New York. It was in Sudan that Ammar began his studies in the Arabic language at an early age. After returning to New York he benefited from a local scholarship in a wide variety of Islamic Sciences. He continued his studies in Houston with renowned scholars such as Dr. Salah Al-Sawy, and completed an extensive study with Dr. Waleed Basyouni. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Islamic Sciences with AlMaghrib Institute. He is the author of "What the Pen Wrote," Imam and Resident Scholar of River Oaks Islamic Center in Houston, and the Content Director for Faith Essentials and FaithIQ. Sheikh Ammar has been teaching weekly classes for the University of Houston Muslim Student Association on and off for more than 5 years, and is currently teaching the "40 Hadith of Imam An-Nawawi" virtually every Wednesday since the beginning of Fall 2020. He is a true role model and source of inspiration and faith for the UHMSA community.

  • The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry

    The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry

    The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry is Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church. He is the Chief Pastor and serves as President and Chief Executive Officer, and as Chair of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Curry was installed as the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church on November 1, 2015. He was elected to a nine-year term and confirmed at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, UT, on June 27, 2015.

  • Rev. Dr. William Barber

    Rev. Dr. William Barber

    Rev. Dr. William Barber is an ordained minister of the Christian Church, (Disciples of Christ), one of the sponsoring denominations of the United Campus Ministry of Greater Houston. Dr. Barber is also the founder of the Poor People's Campaign and Moral Monday Movement. His ministry is focused on eradicating poverty, and social justice for all people.

  •  Rev. Dr. Yvonne Delk

    Rev. Dr. Yvonne Delk

    For nearly 50 years, the Reverend Yvonne V. Delk, has been a strong ally in the fight for human and civil rights for people of color, children and the poor. She has served as teacher, educator, preacher, executive, organizer and author in the United States and in the wider global community. In 1974, Rev. Del became the first African American woman to be ordained as clergy in the United Church of Christ (UCC).

  • Reverend Dr. Renita J. Weems

    Reverend Dr. Renita J. Weems

    In addition to being one of our co-pastors Rev. Renita, as she is known at The Ray, is a distinguished biblical scholar, author, academic administrator, public intellectual, and ordained elder in the African American Episcopal Church (1984). Her esteemed and insightful publications, commentaries, and articles on modern faith, race and religion, womanism and social movements, make her a widely sought-after inspirational speaker and academic lecturer. Rev. Weems was the first African American woman to give Yale University's prestigious Beecher lectures (2008).

  • nicole virgil

    Nicole R. Virgil, CS

    Nicole’s father was a free-lance church organist, and her parents attended services at many different Christian churches in New England. Her mom had been on a years-long search to find out how to practice Christian healing just as Jesus did, and when she started attending Christian Science church services, she found what she was looking for. As a result, Nicole was raised in Christian Science, and developed a deep desire for an intimate relationship with God.

  • sharma lewis

    Rev. Sharma Lewis

    In a historic election, the Rev. Sharma Lewis was elected bishop by the Southeastern Jurisdiction on July 13, becoming the first African-American women to be elected as prelate in that jurisdiction.
    “I was called by God and I made myself available, not just to a position, but to follow God’s will,” said the lifelong Methodist in a statement. “I am excited, and I am really humbled. At 52 years old, I am excited that my next phase of life will be as an episcopal leader. I am humbled to the fact that this is historic.”
    A native of Statesboro, Ga., Lewis is a woman of several “firsts.” She was the first female senior pastor and first African-American pastor of Powers Ferry United Methodist Church. She was the first woman to serve as senior minister of Wesley Chapel UMC, and the first woman to serve as district superintendent in the Atlanta-Decatur-Oxford District, her current position.
    Lewis came to the ministry after a long career as a biologist. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mercer University and the University of West Georgia under her belt, she went on to study at Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, where she earned her master’s of divinity with honors. Since then she has served at various churches and in numerous capacities at the jurisdictional and general conferences.

  • Rev. Tracy Smith Malone

    Rev. Tracy Smith Malone

    Also joining the Council of Bishops was the Rev. Tracy Smith Malone, who hails from the Northern Illinois Conference in the North Central Jurisdiction. Malone was elected on the sixth ballot with 120 votes, becoming Northern Illinois’ first female prelate and the first bishop elected from that conference since 1996.
    “To God be the glory. Friends, I stand before you as one who feels very blessed. Blessed for the journey, by your prayers and confidence in my leadership. I am a child of a church. You raised me and formed me. I consider it a privilege and an honor to serve the church,” said Smith Malone after being introduced as a bishop of The United Methodist Church, according to a statement.
    Daughter of the late Rev. Willie Smith, Smith Malone received her call to ministry at age 13.
    She earned her bachelor’s degree from United Methodist-related North Central College, her master’s of divinity at United Methodist Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and her doctorate at United Theological Seminary.
    The former senior pastor of Gary United Methodist Church in Wheaton, Ill., has served as the Chicago Southern district superintendent since 2011. She was a delegate to General Conference 2016, where she was chair of the Agenda and Calendar Committee and is a member of the board of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race. She serves on the Board of Trustees of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and is a member of Black Methodists for Church Renewal.

  • Dr. Marcus D. Cosby

    Dr. Marcus D. Cosby

    The Reverend Dr. Marcus D. Cosby, the third child born to the late Mr. Rogers Cosby and Mrs. Bobbie J. Cosby, serves as the Senior Pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. A proud native of Chicago, Illinois and a product of Emmanuel Baptist Church where Dr. L.K. Curry served as pastor, Cosby received the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion and English from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, the Master of Divinity Degree in Homiletics and Christian Education from the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia and the Doctor of Ministry Degree in Homiletics from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois.
    Dr. Cosby is married to his high school sweetheart, Mrs. Audrey Marie Cosby, and they have been blessed with three beautiful daughters, Adrienne Marie (Rev. Dr. Micah R. Gaines), Ashley Marie and Aliyah Marie and two sons, Marcus D., II and Matthew D. Cosby. In 2022, Adrienne and Micah were blessed to bring into the world their grandson, Micah R. Gaines, II.
    As the successor to the Founding Pastor of Wheeler Avenue, Dr. William A. Lawson, Pastor Cosby has been blessed to continue the ministry of this intentionally intergenerational congregation in the inner city of Houston, Texas since 2004, having served as Associate Pastor since 1998. Since that time he has led the congregation to ensure its impact both on and far beyond the church campus with the inception of the Wheeler Avenue Christian Academy; by opening a transitional housing facility for homeless single mothers in the Third Ward community of Houston; through cultivating a missional outreach in multiple villages in South Africa; and maintaining a passion for creatively impacting the lives of the forsaken and forgotten wherever they may be found.

  • Warith Deen Mohammed

    Warith Deen Mohammed

    Imam Mohammed increasingly favored a nonracial approach to religion. He pushed his followers toward a more orthodox faith, emphasizing study of the Koran and the five duties of a Moslem: faith, charity, prayer five times a day, fasting during Ramadan and pilgrimage to Mecca.  In 1992, he became the first Muslim to deliver the invocation for the United States Senate. He led prayers at both inaugurals of President Bill Clinton. He participated in several major interfaith dialogues with Roman Catholic cardinals. 

  • Bishop Vashti McKenzie

    Bishop Vashti McKenzie

    Vashti Murphy McKenzie is the interim president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. She is also a retired bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and author of six books. In 2000, McKenzie became the first woman to be elected as bishop in the denomination's history. She later served as President of the Council of Bishops, becoming the first woman to serve as Titular head of the AME Church.

  • Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon

    Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon

    Katie Geneva Cannon was widely regarded as a founder of the Womanist movement, a formidable liberation theologian and Christian ethicist. She was the first African American woman to be awarded the Ph.D. at Union Theological Seminary and the first African American woman to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

  • Bishop T.D. Jakes

    Bishop T.D. Jakes

    Bishop T.D. Jakes presides over The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas. The Potter’s House was founded in 1996 with over 30,000 members and is nondenominational. Bishop Jakes is internationally known, traveling with U.S. presidents, and attending and speaking at events in various countries. He is also heavily involved in outreach and humanitarian efforts. Jakes is also the author of almost 40 books.

  • Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley

    Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley

    Dr. Wesley is regarded as one of the most prolific and prophetic voices of justice and grace in our generation. An empathetic pastor who is not afraid to take on social and political issues, Dr. Wesley led community protest marches against the New York grand jury’s 2014 decision not to indict an NYPD officer whose chokehold led to the death of Eric Gardner. His sermon, “When the Verdict Hurts,” was acknowledged in Time magazine’s July 29, 2013 cover story, “After Trayvon” as one of the best sermons preached in the United States following the “not guilty” verdict in the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman, who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Three of Dr. Wesley’s sermons, “When the Verdict Hurts,” “A Rizpah Response” (and with the black hoody he donned while preaching this sermon), and “Tell Your Own Story,” have been archived in the faith-based collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC. With his guidance, Alfred Street Baptist Church became the first and only faith-based institution founding donor of the NMAAHC with a $1 million donation. Dr. Wesley captivated some thought-provoking leaders of our great nation at the 2019 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 2019 Prayer Breakfast as the Keynote Speaker with the sermonic address of “Let the Church Say Amen”.