‘Mormon Land’: Looking back and forward as one-of-a-kind Genesis Group for Black members celebrates its golden anniversary

Darius Gray, one of the original leaders, reflects on how the congregation helps Black Latter-day Saints navigate a mostly white church.

Fifty years ago this month, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established the Genesis Group, a support organization for Black members.

It came at a time when men and women with African blood were denied access to the priesthood and temple. Genesis served as a quasi-branch of the faith, meeting on the first Sunday of every month. It was like no other church organization — not an auxiliary like the Relief Society but more than a “fireside.”

When the priesthood and temple ban on Black members was lifted in 1978, Genesis continued to meet, offering fellowship to Black members, many of whom struggle to this day worshipping in a mostly white church.

As Genesis celebrates its golden anniversary, one of its original leaders, Darius Gray, talks about the group’s founding, its purpose and its future.

Listen here:

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Darius Gray, shown in 2013, was an original counselor in the Genesis Group presidency.

(Photo courtesy of Jerri Harwell) A past Genesis Group presidency: Darius Gray, left, Ruffin Bridgeforth and Don Harwell.

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