'Rev. Joan': First Black Woman to Head Merged Presbyterian Church

By Bradford, Aundrea | Ebony, November 1989 | Go to article overview

'Rev. Joan': First Black Woman to Head Merged Presbyterian Church


Bradford, Aundrea, Ebony


First Black Woman To Head Merged Presbyterian Church

THE new head of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. is a Black woman who has a Brown Belt in karate and a passion for affirming God's joy in sermon and song.

The Rev. Joan SalmonCampbell of West Chester, Pa., a jazz and classical music fan who sings as well as preaches, is the first Black clergywoman to be elected moderator of the Presbyterian Church since the merging of the Northern and Southern branches in 1983.

As moderator, Rev. SalmonCampbell, who is called "Rev. Joan" by almost everyone, will preside over the General Assembly of a church with less than 4 percent Black membership. Defining her tas as "blowing more ardor into our order," she plans to promote greater Christian enthusiasm in a manner consistent with the "order and decency the Presbyterian Church is known for."

"It is not necessary to be somber," she says. "One does not need to be 'sickly sweet' or 'ickly pious' to be a Christian; Christians should claim their piety, affirm it and experience God's joy in doing so."

Musically inclined since age 4, the contralto and pianist combines her musical talents and preaching gifts into sermons that can energize almost any congregation. She says that she sings as the Spirit moves, sometimes before her sermon, during or after it. "Sometimes I even go over to the piano and accompany my singing with my own piano playing," she says.

Spirituals, hymns and liturgical classical music are her favorite songs. …

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