By Kent Larsen
LDS Church's Genesis Organization is 30 Years Old
MIDVALE, UTAH -- The Genesis Group celebrated its 30th anniversary last
month with a performance of Margaret B. Young's play, "I am Jane," which
covers the life of early black LDS pioneer Jane Manning James. The group was
formed October 19, 1971 to help retain black converts to the LDS Church.
Current Genesis President Darius A.Gray is one of the group's founders. He
and two other converts, Ruffin Bridgeforth, Jr., and Eugene Orr, approached
then LDS Church president Joseph Fielding Smith about retaining black
converts, leading President Smith to then call three apostles, Gordon B.
Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson and Boyd K. Packer to form the group, naming
Bridgeforth its first president, with the other two men as his counselors.
The three men then chose the name for the group. "We picked Genesis, a
beginning, because we saw it as a beginning," Gray said.
While Genesis is an official unit of the LDS Church, it is not a ward or
branch, and does not hold sacrament meetings. Instead, members meet once a
month for testimony and support meetings. "It is not a gripe session, but
supporting," said Young, an associate professor of English at BYU and author
of "I am Jane" and "Standing on the Promises," a series of books about black
LDS pioneers. "Most important, the Genesis Group meetings are not a
substitute to other meetings, like Sacrament meeting."
Despite the subsequent 1978 revelation on the Priesthood, Gray says that the
group is still needed, "African Americans join the church, and they can feel
isolated and alone," Gray said. "There's not too much black culture in the
church. Genesis lets you know you're not alone in the gospel." While the
group only meets in Utah, it also sends out newsletters all over the U.S.
But Gray believes the day is approaching when the group is no longer
necessary, "I look forward to the day when there are enough ethnicities in
the church. When we can all regard each other's cultures highly enough that
we can respect one another and act as a support to each other."
Genesis celebrates 30th anniversary
BYU NewsNet 11Oct01 N4
By Rachel Olsen: NewsNet Staff Writer