The Rev. Dr. Roosevelt Gray Jr., director of LCMS Black Ministry, led the late 2014 production of an LCMS film chronicling the unprecedented mission work of Rosa Young and Lutheran missionary Rev. Nils Bakke in Alabama during the early 1900s.
The film, titled “The First Rosa,” is ready to share with every LCMS congregation, school and organization beginning in early 2016. Hers is a story that will inform the church and other public audiences of Rosa Young’s remarkable impact on people as she proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Your prayers, gifts and enthusiastic endorsement continue to make a difference. To host a showing of “The First Rosa,” view and download the many resources available on this page (see “The First Rosa” Promo Kit to the right).
Thank you. You made it possible to tell Rosa’s story to this and future generations. May God richly bless this film and its impact on others for the sake of the Gospel.
Rosa J. Young history
Rosa J. Young was awarded an honorary doctorate by Concordia Theological Seminary during their commencement service in May 1961. She was both the first woman and the first African-American to be honored in this way by the Lutheran Church.
Young led a life of service, accomplished so much to the Glory of God, and enabled others to do the same, including the following:
• She taught more than 2,000 students, impacting their lives forever with her faith and her belief in the importance of education, at a time when education for children of sharecroppers was limited.
• Many of her students entered the Holy Ministry or became parochial school teachers at her urging, impacting many others with their fidelity to her vision.
• She wrote her autobiography, Light in the Dark Belt, bringing her life story to the reader.
• She was influential in the founding of the Alabama Lutheran Academy and College in Selma, Ala., aimed at training students to become teachers and preparing young men to continue their education at seminary.
• That educational institution, now known as Concordia College Alabama, continues to provide affordable college education to young men and women.
• Many of her students moved north during the Great Migration and founded churches, which extended her ministry throughout the country.
The Encyclopedia of Alabama provides an overview of Rosa J. Young’s history and ministry.