This past Sunday I flipped on the TV as I was getting ready for the day, and came across a channel featuring black gospel videos. The first two featured Fred Hammond, and since I’m a huge Fred Hammond fan, I turned it up and began to sing along.

The camera panned from the stage to the audience, and something struck me: As far as I could tell there was only one white guy in an audience of perhaps 2,000.

That’s consistent with my personal experience attending concerts featuring African American gospel artists. Whether the concert featured Fred Hammond, Yolanda Adams, Men of Standard, or Kirk Franklin, I was consistently among a handful of grains of salt in a vast sea of pepper.

Here’s the thing: I personally wasn’t one bit uncomfortable with that. The passion and involvement and sense of community and love I felt before, during and after each conference was distinctive. I felt only a joyful comradery as I sang “No Weapon” or “When You Praise” or “I’m Grateful” alongside Christians who happened to have darker skin than mine.

The thing that did bother me, that continues to distress me, is that so many of my Christian brothers and sisters are missing out on a gift from God: black gospel music. Is it a cultural issue? Is it a style or lyric issue? Is it fear of putting yourself in a situation where you’d be the minority?

I really don’t know.

What I do know is that sometimes as a white guy I feel like I’m in on a great secret that most of us lighter-skinned people overlook: the blessing of black gospel music and the rich fellowship of black gospel concerts.

Ted Slater
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