Letter from Dr. Joseph Tkach - Feb. 2017

Date: 

February 1, 2017

February is Black History Month, and as I reflect on the significant contributions my African-American brothers and sisters have made to our nation and to the church, my mind turns to a wonderful documentary our media department put together over the last few years. This video highlights the Chicago South Side Congregation, a member church of our organization with an inspiring history.

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February 2017  

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

February is Black History Month, and as I reflect on the significant contributions my African-American brothers and sisters have made to our nation and to the church, my mind turns to a wonderful documentary our media department put together over the last few years. This video highlights the Chicago South Side Congregation, a member church of our organization with an inspiring history.

In the early days of the Worldwide Church of God, there were many unequal policies in place across America, as well as within the denomination. Black WCG members were unable to attend Ambassador College. Those who felt called to the ministry could not rise in leadership. Many rightly felt separated and left out. But during this troubled period, there was one man who stands out, a giant figure during his time. That man was Harold Jackson.


Mr. Harold Jackson
March 30th, 1911 – December 14, 1991

I encourage you to watch a documentary we’ve produced on this remarkable man and the congregation he served. You can view it at this link: http://www.gci.org/letter/jacksondoc

Harold Jackson was an African-American member of WCG. He was a champion of the church and served as a bridge across racial divides during the civil rights era. When he encountered inequality in his life and in his faith community, he did not lose heart. And because of this, he made a lasting impact on everyone he met and on our denomination as a whole.

Although African-American men of WCG who wanted to go into ministry could not attend seminary, this did not change the fact that many wanted to be involved in ministry and to learn and grow in their faith. Harold Jackson became the catalyst to a powerful and revolutionary change when he was ordained and moved to the historically black South Side of Chicago to serve as mentor, trainer, and pastor of young black men who wanted to go into ministry.

He worked with advocates like Dean Blackwell, Carn Catherwood, and my father who saw the importance of racial equality in the faith. Many who had grown up in the denomination flocked to Chicago to study and be trained for ministry by Mr. Jackson. People were eager to use their gifts in service of the church and the kingdom, and he mentored, coached and supported those called to ministry. He oversaw a rigorous ministerial training for these disciples. He held his students to a high standard of biblical knowledge and behavior, requiring them to live out their beliefs, so that everything they did would be a testimony to their faith.

It was not easy for Mr. Jackson. He encountered opposition often, and worked with those who viewed him as lesser because of the color of his skin. He came close to being arrested on several occasions when he took great personal risk to visit congregations in the racially segregated South. But throughout these trials, Mr. Jackson was always a voice of reconciliation and peace. He knew that the future was in God’s hands, and trusted God to guide his people toward truth.

Harold Jackson never lost sight of the big picture. His faith in God was unshakable, and he knew that God’s truth and justice would prevail. He counseled those he mentored to trust that God was always at work, and to remain faithful and steadfast to their call. There was real pain and insult experienced by the African-American community within WCG – and yet they remained strong. Moving past deep inequity was hardly easy, but people like Mr. Jackson demonstrated unshakable faith that God was at work through them.

God has indeed been faithful to the community that grew up around Mr. Jackson’s leadership. The Chicago South Side Church has grown and thrived to this day. They recently moved into their own church building, after sharing a space for many years, and recently appointed a new pastor to carry forward the work begun all those years ago. Many in the congregation speak of the continued spirit of hard work, determination, and unflagging faith in God’s guidance that still characterize this church. It is a thriving member church of our denomination, made up of people from a variety of backgrounds. And it still lives out the legacy of Harold Jackson by keeping the faith in all circumstances. Our organization was challenged to change its approach to race which we took to task. We celebrate the equality of all races at the foot of the cross and the opportunity to work together for the gospel. When you give to GCI, you are supporting the rich faith legacy of countless church communities around the world, and support the spread of Christ’s gospel of justice and salvation for those who call on him.

Encouraged by the faith and perseverance of those like Mr. Harold Jackson,


Joseph Tkach
President – Grace Communion International

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