(Nashville, Tenn. – July 29, 2008) - The Disciples of Christ Historical Society opened the new Oscar Haynes Exhibit Hall in its Nashville, Tenn., offices in honor of one of today’s most significant African-American lay leaders in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
The fixed hall in the new hall features artifacts and memorabilia of the African-American movement within the Christian Church. It will be on display for about a year.
On July 29, the DCHS celebrated “Oscar Haynes Day” as a standing-room only crowd gathered in the A. Dale Fiers Lecture Hall to honor the 92-year-old man for distinctive service to the church. His resume includes being the first layman to become president of the National Convocation, and terms of service on the board of directors of the Historical Society, Disciples Home Missions, Christian Church Foundation, and countless other regional and general ministries. He also is the past editor of The Old Timers’ Grapevine newsletter, having stepped down from that volunteer position earlier this year.
“Oscar is someone who can do great things softly, who witnesses to all of the people and who says racism is wrong and is willing to speak out,” said the Rev. Lari Grubbs, Capital Area regional minister. “And yet Oscar, when he sees a need, will see that it gets done.”
Haynes, with his wife, the Rev. Joan-Bell Haynes at his side, and with four generations of family present, humbly accepted accolades bestowed on him by Disciples General Minister and President Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins; Rev. Timothy James, Associate General Minister and Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation; and Newell Williams, president of Brite Divinity School and current moderator of the Christian Church. Others present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and inaugural tour of the Exhibit Hall included about a dozen friends from the Capital Area, representatives from many general ministries and current and past Historical Society staff and board members.
“I start each day with an attitude of gratitude,” Haynes said, his quiet voice piercing through the crowded lecture hall. “God is love” is the first Bible verse he learned, and he daily tries to embody that with whom he meets.
Haynes, who currently lives in the Reston, Va., area, is a graduate of Tuskegee Institute and Howard University. He holds dual membership in National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., and United Christian Parish in Reston. In 1991, he was named a Diplomate of the National City Christian Church Corporation.
The Oscar Haynes Exhibit Hall is the third named room on the Thomas W. Phillips Memorial, home of the DCHS. “The naming of Brother Haynes follows in our tradition of honoring those Christians who inspire us with their faithfulness,” said the Rev. Glenn Carson, DCHS president. A special alcove in the building is in memory of Eva Jean Wrather, a founding DCHS board member.
By: Jim Cullumber, Christian Church Foundation