U.S. Senate Chaplain Recognized for His Defense of Religious Liberty

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Barry Black named 2019 Canterbury Medalist by the Becket Fund organization.

Barry C. Black, 62ndChaplain of the U.S. Senate and an Adventist pastor, has been named Becket’s 2019 Canterbury Medalist for his defense of religious liberty for people of all faiths. 

The Canterbury Medal, Becket’s highest honor, recognizes an individual who has demonstrated courage and commitment to defending religious liberty in the United States and around the world. In carrying out a tradition that goes back to the first Continental Congress in 1774, Chaplain Black was honored for using his position as the founding fathers asked — with courage and faith in democracy. Becket honored Black with the 2019 Canterbury Medal at its annual Gala in New York on Thursday, May 23, 2019.

Chaplain Barry C. Black has served as Senate chaplain since 2003. The first-ever Seventh-day Adventist and African-American Senate Chaplain, he is the spiritual advisor for not only 100 of the most powerful lawmakers in the nation but also their staff and families — a combined constituency of more than 7,000 people. Each morning as he opens the Senate with a prayer, Black sets the discourse for the day in one of the highest chambers in the nation, in turn setting the spiritual tone of the country.

In her tribute to Black, evangelist Alveda King noted, “There are those who would separate the soul of an individual from the actions they take. The chaplaincy and Chaplain Black can be a bastion against this excessive separation. May Chaplain Black follow in the footsteps of Christ, while seeking human rights and civil rights as leaders like my uncle, Martin Luther King, Jr., did. May God bless Chaplain Black as he seeks the fostering of a well-developed conscience in the Senate.”

Before serving on Capitol Hill, retired Rear Admiral Barry C. Black served in the U.S. Navy for more than 27 years, ending his career as the Chief of Navy Chaplains. Affectionately known for sporting his signature bowtie on the Senate floor, Black is a sought-after spiritual guide and source of encouraging words on faith and unity. His books on those themes include The Blessing of AdversityNothing to FearMake Your Voice Heard in Heaven, and his autobiography of overcoming personal adversity, From the Hood to the Hill.

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