Mandela greets U.S. faith community (30 years ago)

30 years ago — July 16-30, 1990

Religious “leaders from the United States gathered in the chapel of Riverside Church in New York City to greet and to be greeted by Nelson Mandela.” Sponsored by the National Council of Churches, this gathering brought together Christians from across the denominational spectrum as well as Jewish and other faith leaders. In Mandela’s address, he thanked U.S. religious communities for their support against apartheid in South Africa.

After his address they proceeded to the sanctuary for worship. “The air was festive as four choirs and African drummers led the gathering in joyous praise. … Soloist Patricia Ann Barnes moved many to tears with her strong and soulful rendition of ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’ and Gardner Taylor, renowned preacher and pastor, … brought the crowd to its feet with his humorous and passionate introduction of Mandela. … Using familiar words from the prophet Isaiah, Mandela expressed the hope of his people saying: ‘We have risen up on the wings of eagles. We have run and not grown weary. We have walked and not fainted. And finally, our destination is in sight.’ ”

From “Mandela greets U.S. faith community” by Leonora Tubbs Tisdale