God began ‘calling’ for Sankofa United Church of Christ to be birthed in 2002. Following much prayer and consultation, that call was ultimately heard and answered by it’s first two organizing pastors: Susan Smith and Derrick Rice in January, 2003. That first year included much additional prayer, consultation and organizing. A national Council of Elders was formed to: advise and provide spiritual cover and guidance in the creation of Sankofa. Our beloved mentors/Council Members included: Reverend Barbara J. Allen, Rev. Dr. Ozzie Smith, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., Jeffrey Radford, Dr. Asa Hilliard, Rev. Dr. Iva Carruthers and others. During the summer of 2003, the organizing ministers began conversations with a Minister of Music who, in November of 2003, assumed that organizing role. The first official organizing committee meeting was held on October 20, 2003 at Woodruff Library on the campus of the Atlanta University Center. The organizing committee continued to meet on a weekly basis praying, planning, studying and preparing for the Ministry of Sankofa, UCC and its first Worship Service to be held on April 18, 2004 at Church of the Master, Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Our initial worship service was truly a blessing from God! We celebrated in worship with over 250 people present to support the birth of the new ministry called Sankofa United Church of Christ! The presence of the Holy Spirit was evidenced in the words spoken and written by our Council of Elders, singing from the choir, praise and worship through liturgical dance, honoring of our ancestors through the celebration of libations, the sacrificial offering and the proclamation of the Word. Then, when we thought God had already blessed us tremendously, God moved to another level and added four adults and two children, a total of six people to the Sankofa faith community.
The strong foundation set by our Covenanted partners, Covenant United Church of Christ (South Holland, Illinois), Trinity United Church of Christ (Chicago, Illinois) Rush Memorial United Church of Christ, friends undergirded this motley crew of believer’s ability to stand tall strong and begin to do ministry. Sankofa United Church of Christ is a testimony to the Afrikan proverb: “I am because We are and because We are, I am. Truly Sankofa is because of the community that supports the ministry.
God continued to bless the ministry of Sankofa as we praised God during our initial 8:30 a.m. worship service on April 25, 2004 at the Historic Rush Memorial United Church of Christ, located at 150 James P. Brawley Drive, SW, on the campus of Clark Atlanta University.
In June of 2008, citing a need to leave parish ministry, Reverend Susan Mitchell left Sankofa. The ensuing months were trying as our membership fell below twenty and the expectation by many onlookers was for Sankofa to fail! But, God!!! Pastor Derrick Rice remained as pastor and began the painstaking process of rebuilding and by God’s grace, within a three-‐month period we bounced back to seventy-‐five members. Former members that chose to leave were numerically replaced and several additional families joined Sankofa. Before our very eyes, the demographic of our church drastically shifted. While we continued to be intentional about providing space for our members and visitors to be who they are, how they are, Sankofa suddenly became a more family oriented church with a more invigorated commitment to ministry beyond our Bible Study and Worship Services. By 2009, Sankofa came to be known in the community as The Small Church With a Big Voice. Our church has led the way, fought with, supported and stood up for countless members of God’s family who were faced with tragedy, police brutality and sundry other forms of injustice. In a real sense, we began to tangibly live our Mission Statement: “… an Afrikan-‐centered, Christian Ministry called to be a viable asset in the restoration of individuals, families and communities to our righteous place in creation.”