Light in the Midst of Zion
Excerpt from the Forward
Light in the Midst of Zion by France A. Davis, is a history of Salt Lake City’s Calvary Missionary Baptist Church and the Black Baptist churches in Utah over the past 100 plus years. The result of painstaking research and several interviews, the study is an important account of the efforts of Black Utah baptists to establish churches of their own in a state where 70 percent of the population are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and where African Americans constitute less than one percent of the state’s population.
The primary reason Calvary Missionary Baptist Church and the other Black baptist congregations were formed was to address the spiritual needs of African American baptists in Utah. Calvary is the largest predominantly Black congregation in Utah. Along with meeting the spiritual needs of its membership, Calvary and its sister churches play a major role in serving the secular needs of the African American community in the state.
Reverend Davis provides a wonderful journey into the past a small western Black community struggling to develop and sustain churches where they could exercise autonomy in their decisions and provide their members with a spiritual, social, and cultural connection to the larger, national, Black community. The sense of connection with the larger African American community has been critical to Black Utahns in their efforts to sustain themselves in a place where their numbers are few and where they have faced racism and discrimination similar to their brothers and sisters in other parts of the United States. Davis tells about some of the schisms that developed in a few congregations and how the members responded to their respective situations.
Excerpted from the Forward by Dr Ronald Coleman.