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Keep the Faith: A Black Church Musical

Presented by Xavier University Art Gallery at Xavier University Art Gallery

Jul 15 2023
Keep the Faith: A Black Church Musical

Join us on July 15th for a free sample of a new community musical that conveys the history of the Black Church from 1619 to the present!

On Saturday July 15th from 1-2 pm at the Xavier University Art Gallery in the A.B. Cohen Center, Dr. Jason C. White (NAACP award winning Playwright, Assistant Professor of Arts Administration at Xavier University) and Terry Ridley (Music Director at New Life Temple Church) will present a sample of the first Act of Keep the Faith; a newly written community musical that conveys the history of The Black Church from 1619 to the present. Then after a 15 minute Q&A and brief intermission, Elder Deborah Merritt (Executive Pastor of The Christ Emmanuel Christian Fellowship) will lead a one-hour panel discussion on the past, present and future of the Black Church.

According to Dr. White, “Community musicals offer us a great way to convey the untold histories of a community through song and dance. Most of the negro spirituals and hymns sung in Keep the Faith are already well known by community members of historically Black-led church organizations (e.g., AME, AMEZ, CME, COGIC). However, when you place these songs in the right historical context, they can provide you with a whole new interpretation and understanding of the religious experience of Black and African Americans.”

Dr. White was inspired to write Keep the Faith after watching Dr. Henry Louis Gates’s 4-hour PBS mini-series The Black Church, which traces the 400-year-old story of the African American-led Protestant church movement in America. According to Dr. Gates, “The foundation of the African American spiritual journey was formed out of fragments of faith that our ancestors brought to this continent starting 500 years ago, and out of those fragments grew the powerful institution that we fondly call the black church.”

Reflecting on the project, Dr. White states, “Based on my research, the Black Church is alive and active, as evidenced by thousands of Black-led Christian churches which still carry out a social gospel mission and worship within the Black church tradition. However, demographic changes, social class differences, disagreements on mission priorities, and differences in biblical interpretation have contributed to a lack of unity in the broader Black Church. One of the primary goals of this project is to bring together past and present members across Black-led Christian denominations and help them to reflect on their shared history. In addition, I hope that Keep the Faith helps diverse audiences learn about the important role that the Black Church has played in the lives of African slaves, in the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, The Great Migration, The Civil Rights Movement, and in the provision of social services for millions of Americans.”

This project was recently funded by ArtsWave through the 2023 Black and Brown Artist grant program.

NOTE: This event contains the display of graphic historic images that may not be suitable for children under the age of 13. Parental guidance is suggested.

Admission is free, but seating is limited. To get tickets and directions to the event, please visit the following weblink:


Admission is free, but seating is limited.

To get tickets and directions to the event, please visit the following weblink:


    Official Website

Full map and directions

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