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September 2011: Listen in on Tom Skinner at Atlanta '88


Listen to Skinner's message at Atlanta '88

side 1

side 2
Undated photo of Skinner    

By the time the Atlanta '88 Congress on Evangelizing Black America opened in August 1988, Tom Skinner, although a relatively young 46-year-old man, was already a seasoned evangelist, speaker, author and persistent critic of racism in America and the American church. For those attending the Congress, Skinner also had a track record as a leader and source of inspiration to the Evangelical Black church. He became more widely known among Evangelicals through his books published by Zondervan Publishing in the 1970s and speaking at predominantly white Evangelical events like the 1970 Urbana Student Missionary Convention. Six years after the Congress, Skinner died in 1994 at age 52.

Atlanta '88 was convened to "1) Increase knowledge of the Scriptures, 2) Offer how-to methods for effectively communicating the Gospel to others, 3) Encourage support and sharing of resources with other Christians, and 4) Challenge the Black churches in different denominations about the responsibility of the world evangelization." The Congress was called as a response to the perceived exclusion of the African American community from the focus of Houston '85, a consultation on evangelizing ethnic America. During that 1985 meeting, Black Christian leaders formed a task force to convene a conference on evangelizing the African American community, which emerged three years later as Atlanta '88.

Skinner, one of the featured evening speakers at the Congress, recounted in his practical and theoretical, historical and contetualized message...

  • the history of Blacks in America and American Christianity
  • the displacement of Blacks from the focus of evangelism by whites Christians
  • Black Christians in the broader scope of Evangelicalism
  • the importance of evangelizing African Americans and the need for greater participation in evangelism by Blacks
  • the qualifications to be an evangelist
  • the nature and content of the gospel message
  • the need for collective support for evangelists
  • the source of true reward for being an evangelist
  • the nature of sinful people and behavior vs. belief in Jesus Christ
  • and much more

In addition to Skinner's comments on the featured recording are Elward Ellis who introduces and commends Tom Skinner to the audience, and several musical selections.

The audio quality of first side of the cassette copy of the recording (43 minutes) is easily listenable, while Side 2, which is much quieter with some hiss, is therefore much more difficult to hear (apparently along with another recording in the background) -- please turn up your volume in order to better hear the 40-minute continuation of the message. (We hope to rectify this problem and provide an entirely clear version of the message in the near future.) Skinner's message is also available at the Archives on two video tapes, V3 and V4 (not available on the Archives web site).

Find out more about Tom Skinner or Atlanta '88 in two Archives collections.

Other resources on African American evangelists, missionaries, leaders, church and organizations are also available on our web site, including the November 2002 Bulletin Board about Skinner, an evangelistic tract featuring Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I've Been to the Mountaintop" theme, the October 2001 Bulletin Board on John Perkins and Voice of Calvary Ministries, the February 2005 Bulletin Board about Bill Pannell, and a report from Montrose Waits about his 1948 trip to Africa.

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Last Revised: 09/01/11
Expiration: indefinite

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