the carl spain center
Experience a renewed “inward orientation.”
The Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action was founded in 2018 by Dr. Jerry Taylor, Associate Professor of Bible at Abilene Christian University (ACU). Dr. Taylor chose to name the new center after Carl Spain, a legendary figure at Abilene Christian College (ACC), presently known as Abilene Christian University (ACU). His prophetic voice was a catalyst for change on the campus in the mid 1900’s. Dr. Spain, an ACC Bible professor, used speech at the 1960 Abilene Christian College Lectures to challenge the school and other Christian colleges to open their doors to Black students. While he was greatly outnumbered in his sentiment and lost favor with many people, the school soon changed its whites-only policy and began admitting black students the following academic year.
The Carl Spain Center is a continuation of Dr. Jerry Taylor’s life work to foster racial unity within Churches of Christ, their affiliate institutions, and throughout the Kingdom of God. Prior to founding the Spain Center, Dr. Taylor convened numerous national and local events that brought Black and white Christians together to equip them to work toward racial unity. Such events have included two National Freedom in Christ Conferences (2011 and 2013); Racial Unity Leadership Summits in Nashville, TN (2014), Memphis, TN (2015), Abilene, TX, (2015), Los Angeles, CA (2015), and Fresno, CA (2016); and a Young Scholars Retreat (2015). Since the inception of the Spain Center in 2018, this work has been expanded with the Dallas Racial Unity Summit (2019) in honor of Botham Jean, a Black Church of Christ member from Saint Lucia who was slain by an off-duty white Dallas police officer; Racial Unity Prayer Retreats in Dallas, TX (2019), El Paso, TX (2020) in the wake of the racially motivated mass killings at a local Walmart, and Birmingham, AL (2020); and with the creation of numerous virtual Think Tanks across the nation to address racial unity. The Spain Center held the “Community Rally and Press Conference: A Call for National Unity” in June 2020 in response to the national unrest and call for police reform triggered by the death of George Floyd, an African American man killed in March of the same year by white Minneapolis police officers. The Spain Center conducted a virtual Racial Unity Leadership Summit and a virtual Conference on White Supremacy in October 2020. The list is not exhaustive.
Through the work of the Spain Center, lines of communication, previously non-existent, are being initiated between black and white church leaders and multiracial, localized alliances that include area ministers are beginning to form. Dr. Taylor has also delivered many sermons and other presentations on racial unity and has consulted individually with numerous churches and church leaders as they attempt to respond to the need for racial unity in their own unique contexts. The work continues…