Jump to content

The Protestant Community

Sincerely inquiring about the Protestant faith? Welcome to Christforums the Christian Protestant community. You'll first need to register in order to join our community. Create or respond to threads on your favorite topics and subjects. Registration takes less than a minute, it's simple, fast, and free! Enjoy the fellowship! God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now

Christian Fellowship

John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
Sign in to follow this  
News Feeder

Finding Black Fathers in the PCA

Recommended Posts


The most powerful moment of the Presbyterian Church in America’s (PCA) 46th General Assembly in June 2018 was the unanimous election of Irwyn Ince as the assembly’s moderator. Ince is the first African American to hold the position, which is responsible for chairing the annual three-day meeting.

Ince walked to the podium to a standing ovation and cheers from more than 2,000 commissioners and spectators.

Waiting for Ince at the podium was outgoing moderator Alexander Jun, the PCA’s first Korean American moderator. After Jun handed Ince the gavel—the ceremonial transfer of leadership—the two shared a strong embrace.

As Ince turned to face the still-cheering Assembly, he flashed his broad smile and looked around. When he finally spoke, his first word was, “Wow.”

He didn’t stop there.

41111749780_198ea832a0_k-300x200.jpegIrwyn Ince and Alexander Jun embrace. / Photo by Allison Shirreffs, courtesy of the PCA

“Fathers and brothers, I am beyond humbled, grateful, privileged, overjoyed to serve as the first African American moderator of our General Assembly,” Ince said. “For most of my years in this church I’ve struggled to greet any court of our church with the greeting ‘Fathers and brothers.’ Brothers? Yes. But fathers? No. That began to change for me only in the past few years as I became aware of the reality that I have black fathers in American Presbyterianism.”

One was Matthew Anderson, who established Berean Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia in 1880. He faced not only the apathy of white Presbyterians toward the spiritual plight of blacks, but also the reticence of Philadelphia blacks toward the Presbyterian church—an institution they associated with aristocracy and perpetuating slavery.

Ince said he has likewise felt reticence and apathy in his work in the PCA.

“It has often felt to me that I was Presbyterian by accident,” he told the assembly. “I’ve experienced the reticence and the apathy Reverend Anderson spoke about as I have learned this denomination’s history and felt its aftermath—the fact that only 1 percent of our pastors are black.”

But studying the PCA’s history is also what gave Ince the hope and confidence to lead the denomination’s national gathering.

“There are no accidents, so I am delighted to serve as pastor in this branch of Zion, because it is where God has called me.”

Renewing Heart and Mind

Ince’s grandmother quit North Carolina during the Jim Crow era and resettled her family in New York City. Ince grew up in Brooklyn and attended Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church.

He earned his degree in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York. While there, Ince abandoned his Christian faith as a vestige of white colonization and embraced the Black Power movement. He took classes in black studies and began identifying with Africa as his homeland while despising Western culture.

After college, Ince worked as an engineer for Motorola. At the invitation of his wife’s family, Ince and his wife, Kim, began attending New Bethel Baptist Church, a historic African American church in Washington, D.C. Though not interested in the Christian faith, the Inces enjoyed the opportunity to meet other blacks and other young couples.

“I was content to not be a Christian, but [God] wasn’t content for that to be my story,” Ince told TGC.

42020947225_595edfd49c_k-300x200.jpegIrwyn Ince / Photo by Allison Shirreffs, courtesy of the PCA

In 1995—shortly after attending Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March—Ince and his wife decided to join New Bethel Baptist Church. Still, he wrestled with believing Jesus is the only way to salvation and felt unsure about making a profession of faith.

As Ince grew in his faith, he stumbled on a Bible program on a Christian radio station.

“My first thought was, Who’s this dry-sounding white guy?” Ince recalls. “But as I kept listening, I remember thinking, I’ve never heard the Bible taught with this kind of clarity. I want to listen to this guy again.

The “dry-sounding guy” was R. C. Sproul. Ince became a regular listener to “Renewing Your Mind,” then subscribed to Tabletalk magazine and Ligonier Ministry’s Tape of the Month Club.

Five years later, Ince lost interest in the MBA that would have furthered his Motorola career, and he enrolled at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Washington, D.C. He graduated with his master’s degree in religion in 2006, following it 10 years later with a doctor of ministry degree from Covenant Theological Seminary.

Recovering a Lost Legacy

For years, Ince felt like an orphan in the PCA. One seminary professor asked the class why there were specific African American denominations for Methodists, Pentecostals, and Baptists, but not Presbyterians. The question felt more earnest than rhetorical, and Ince felt like it was directed at him.

He had no answer. It would be 10 years before he found one.

In 2017, PCA pastor and historian Sean Michael Lucas taught a General Assembly seminar titled “Lost Legacies: African American Fathers and Brothers in Presbyterian History.”

42873014662_2f8c89340e_k.jpegFormer PCA moderator Charles McGowan escorts Irwyn Ince to the moderator’s podium. / Photo by Allison Shirreffs, courtesy of the PCA

“Black Presbyterian fathers didn’t form a separate Presbyterian denomination because they instead chose to work inside the broken system for reconciliation,” Ince said. Black churches even came together to form all-black regional governing bodies (called presbyteries) within the Presbyterian church.

Lucas’s seminar introduced Ince to African American Presbyterians and prompted him to study Anderson more deeply. As he discovered his place in a line of faithful African American Presbyterians, Ince saw how he fit into a bigger story. He understood that he was not a Presbyterian by accident.

“Coming across [Anderson] made an immediate impact on me because this was related to me,” Ince told TGC. “He was making a defense of Presbyterianism as the right doctrine and apology for blacks in America. Coming across that really did spark a fire inside me that gave me more encouragement about being Presbyterian. There was a wealth of mentors I had no knowledge of.”

Covenantal Reconciliation

Ince, who directs the Grace D.C. Network’s newly formed Institute for Cross-Cultural Mission, draws encouragement from his fathers of color who overcame barriers of suspicion and apathy for the sake of the gospel.

“How beneficial will it be for church leaders in training to learn about those who, under very adverse conditions, promoted the cause of justice and did so unapologetically while knowing they were depending on the resources of the white Presbyterian brothers and sisters for funding?” Ince said. “They still spoke truth to power.”

Mentors like Anderson, Ince believes, will be key to the future of a denomination that hopes to be faithful to Scripture, true to the Reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission while representing the diversity of believers described in Revelation 7 in an increasingly hostile culture.

Ince ties those concerns together in his personal mission statement, written back in seminary: “The ministry of reconciliation as demonstrated in the local church by the gathering of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities is the natural outworking of a rich covenantal theological commitment.”


View the full article

Share this post

Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Topics

    • Early church fathers and sola fide

      I've been reading a lot of apologetics websites and some books on the errors of the teachings of the Catholic church.  For what ever reason, I haven't been able to find any information on early Church fathers' views that support the Protestant view on sola fide.  If anyone has some, or can tell me where to look, I'd appreciate it.    

      in Christian History

    • Ocasio-Cortez Trashes Ronald Reagan: Pitted White Americans Against Brown And Black Americans

      By Jason Hopkins - Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claimed Saturday that former President Ronald Reagan used certain rhetoric to pit white working class Americans against brown and black working class Americans. “A perfect example of how special interests and the powerful have pitted white working class Americans against brown and black working class Americans is Reaganism in the ’80s when he started talking about welfare queens,” the New York Democrat said while speaking at a conference in A

      in Political Conservative News

    • Black Journalists Association Puts CNN On ‘Special Media Monitoring List’ For Lack Of Diversity

      By Tim Pearce - The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) placed CNN on a “special media monitoring list” Tuesday for lacking diversity at the network’s most senior positions, the NABJ announced. The NABJ made the decision to place CNN on the list after the network’s president Jeff Zucker declined an invitation to meet with representatives from the organization. As part of being monitored, “a special team will perform further research and an analysis of CNN’s diversity, inclusi

      in Political Conservative News

    • Hear Me Lord, Finding Intimacy Again with God by Greg Gordon

      “Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” – Psalm 86:1 As days go by in our life here on earth so many times our focus gets fixed on something transient and passing. Daily cares of life, all the needs and desires of others in our lives, even our own ambitions, and goals sometimes cloud the vision for what really matters. Remember when you started to know the Lord, the day you bowed your knee and spoke with your Lord who redeemed you? Remember the awe in your heart for Him w

      in Bible Study

    • Police Confirm Suspects Arrested In Jussie Smollett Hate Crime Are Black Men

      By Neetu Chandak - The Chicago Police Department confirmed Friday that the suspects arrested in the alleged racist and homophobic attack against “Empire” star Jussie Smollett on Jan. 29. were two black men. The men were identified as Nigerian brothers, The Associated Press reported. CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said both were arrested for suspicion of assault and battery. One of the suspects was on “Empire.” TMZ reported the names of the suspects, but CPD officer Michelle Tannehill sai

      in Political Conservative News

  • Create New...