When the Sun Stood Still: Reflections on the Rev. John Jasper By Samuel K. Roberts
Samuel K. Roberts
Among the larger than life personages in Richmond during the latter years of the nineteenth century is to be counted the pastor of Jackson Ward’s Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, the Rev. John Jasper. He was born a slave in the second decade of the century, and his mark on Richmond's popular consciousness lasts even to the present. In large measure, this is because of a sermon he first preached in 1878, "The Sun Do Move and the Earth Am Square." Hailed by some and vilified by others, Jasper's sermon seemed to defy modern notions of astronomy. Yet, he was asked to preach it more than 250 times, including before the General Assembly, before his death in 1901. Reflections on this enigmatic character will explore the context in which his audiences heard him, as well as that of our own. Samuel K. Roberts is the Anne Borden and E. Hervey Evans Professor of Theology and Ethics at Union Presbyterian Seminary. This lecture was cosponsored with Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church.