Dr. David G. Roebuck, Director of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center, participated in events honoring Edmond and Rebecca Barr as part of Black Ministries Awareness Celebration. On Thursday, February 6, Roebuck contributed to a panel discussion at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary on “Identity and Pentecostalism.” The panel responded to a presentation by Dr. Jewrell Rivers in the Knight Conference Hall.
Then on Friday, February 7, Dr. Roebuck led a presentation of “The World(s) of Edmond and Rebecca Barr” in the Leadership and Communication building of the Church of God International Offices. Joining Roebuck was Dr. Estrelda Alexander and Mr. Michael Swann. Alexander is president of William Seymour College in Bowie, Maryland, which actively seeks to admit historically underserved students. An ordained minister in the Church of God, she has planted churches in Maryland and Virginia. She is the author of numerous books and articles including Black Fire: One Hundred Years of African American Pentecostalism (2011) and Black Fire Reader: A Documentary Resource on African American Pentecostalism (2013). Swann is the minister of music at East Street Tabernacle Church of God of Prophecy in Nassau, Bahamas, and the author of the forthcoming book, The Holy Jumpers: A Concise History of the Church of God of Prophecy, Bahamas (1909-1974).
The Reverends Edmond and Rebecca Barr were the first persons of African descent to join the Church of God. An immigrant from the Bahamas, Edmond married African-American Rebecca in Florida. General Overseer A. J. Tomlinson credentialed them as Evangelists in 1909 and Edmond as a Bishop in 1912. When the Barrs traveled to the Bahamas in November 1909, they became the first persons in the Church of God to minister outside the United States. They returned to Florida in 1911 where they established a congregation in Miami. General Overseer Tomlinson appointed him as state overseer of black churches in 1915.
Also on Friday, the Church of God dedicated a memorial marker to the Barrs in the Prayer Plaza at the International Offices. The recommendation to honor Edmond and Rebecca Barr originated in the Church of God Historical Commission with the support of the International Executive Committee and the Black Ministries Advisory Committee. Dr. Wallace J. Sibley, Assistant General Overseer and Divisional Director of World Evangelization, led the dedication, and Dr. Roebuck read a proclamation from Tennessee House of Representatives. Other participants in the dedication included Pastor Reather G. Campbell, Bishop James S. McIntyre Sr., Bishop J. Lee Pugh, General Overseer Mark L. Williams, Bishop Grady Murphy (representing World Missions Director Tim Hill), Cleveland Vice Mayor Avery Johnson, Bishop Carlton L. Cannon, Evangelist Janice A. Hill, Bishop Wayne C. Solomon and Assistant General Overseer J. David Stephens. Black Ministries Coordinator, Dr. Kenneth L. Hill, directed the dedication and Black Ministries Awareness Celebration.