1. What is a lectionary?
A lectionary is a book or listing that contains a collection of Scripture readings appointed for Christian or Judaic worship on a given day or occasion. Lectionaries follow set themes following the festivals and special days of the Christian year. A lectionary contains a list of the lections, or texts, to be read in church services throughout the canonical year.

In some faith communities the lectionary is the book used in liturgical celebrations that contains all of the Scripture readings of the liturgical year. It is also a part of the fittings of a church and contains readings from Christian Scripture. It is the book from which the officiant reads to the congregation during holy services.

2. When and how did the African American Lectionary begin?
Desiring to create new national conversations concerning the use of Scripture in worship and preaching, the Reverend Martha Simmons, President and Publisher of The African American Pulpit Journal, commissioned world-renowned scholars, musicians, and former pastors to assist in the creation of The African American Lectionary. It began in December 2007 after a planning grant was supplied by the Lilly Endowment to design the project in the summer and fall of 2007.

3. How does The African American Lectionary differ from The Revised Common Lectionary?
There are several differences between the two lectionaries. The African American Lectionary was designed specifically with the African American Christian faith community and historically African American churches in mind. The Revised Common Lectionary was designed with historically hierarchical faith communities in mind, especially those that follow similar liturgical calendars. The African American Lectionary offers a calendar that includes days commonly celebrated in African American churches (e.g. Women’s Day, Men’s Day, Usher’s Day, Watch Night, etc.) and some of the liturgical moments celebrated by all segments of the Christian community (e.g. Good Friday, Easter, Christmas, etc.).

4. Why doesn’t The African American Lectionary use four Scriptures for each of its commentaries?
Many non-hierarchical denominations (e.g. National Baptist, USA Inc., Progressive Baptist, National Baptist of America, etc.) and even African American hierarchical denominations (e.g. Church of God in Christ, AME, CME, etc.) only use one Scripture to preach each sermon. With this in mind, and since most African American Christians are not found among those faith communities that use multiple Scriptures (Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist, and Catholic), The African American Lectionary is designed with the majority of The African American faith community in mind.

5. For whom is The African American Lectionary intended?
The African American Lectionary is primarily intended for three groups: 1. Those who preach sermons; 2. Those who need African American cultural material to preach and teach; and 3. Those who desire information on designing worship services for their yearly cycle of worship.

6. How can I search the Lectionary quickly since it has so many pages?
Because The African American Lectionary is so vast, one cannot always find all that they need quickly. However, to decrease the time it takes to find material, persons should: 1. have a general idea of what they need before they go to the website; 2. always use the Key Word Search Box; 3. be sure to scroll totally down each page of material; and 4. if they encounter problems while searching, contact the customer service department of The African American Lectionary at or by phone at 1-800-391-1905.

7. Who are the members of the Lectionary team?
The 2013 Lectionary team is listed on the ABOUT US page of the website. The team includes: Reverend Martha Simmons, Creator and Online Director; Dr. Stacey Floyd-Thomas; Dr. Rachel St. Clair-Lettsome; Dr. J. Kameron Carter; Rev. Charles H. Smith; Dr. Brian Bantum; Mrs. Michelle Riley Jones; Mr. Daryl Walker; Rev. Nolan Williams Jr. (who oversees the Lectionary Young Adult Liturgists); the Young Adult Liturgists are: Mr. Charles Cotton, Mr. Brandon Boyd , Rev. Neichelle Guidry Jones, Dr. Courtney-Savali Andrews, and Mr. Jermaine Manor. Dr. Forest Harris, President of American Baptist College of Nashville, provides leadership for conferences and workshops that the Lectionary will hold in 2013-2014; Dr. Martin Espinosa will also assist in the development of Lectionary conferences and workshops. Rev. Willie D. Francois III serves as the director of the Lectionary's Young Ministers' Corner; Rev. Reginald Bell Jr. serves as the facilitator for the African American Lectionary's Facebook page and Sermon Illustrations page. American Baptist College of Nashville (Dr. Forrest Harris, president) and The African American Pulpit Journal (Rev. Martha Simmons, President) serve as The African American Lectionary's collaborative partners for 2011-2014. Dr. Renita Weems, Vice President of American Baptist College, is the Lectionary project manager. Ebiz of Memphis, TN manages the website; and the Lilly Endowment generously continues to provide funding for the project.

8. How do I turn off the sound on the Lectionary?
The sound button at the top of the page (followed by the words: Click here to turn off the sound) will turn off the sound.

9. How are writers selected to do commentaries, cultural resource units, or worship units?
Writers are selected by the Lectionary Director and are recommended by members of the Lectionary team.

10. How can I become a Lectionary writer?
Persons can contact the customer service department via e-mail to obtain the writing guidelines for each section of the Lectionary (commentaries, cultural resources, and worship). They should then ascertain calendar due dates and submit their material to the customer service department as indicated in the guidelines. Please be aware that those submitting materials must use the pre-determined scriptural text provided by the Lectionary team.

11. How long will the Lectionary be online?
The Lectionary went online in December 2007 and is currently slated to be online through at least December 2014.

12. Can I find material for children and youth on the Lectionary?
The Lectionary offers a wide array of material for children (birth–age 12) and youth (13–17) including books (see the books list), music, and more. Material can be found by using the Key Word Search and inputting phrases such as Children’s Day, Youth Day, Children’s music, etc.

13. Do I have to pay a fee to download the videos from the Lectionary?
All material on the Lectionary can be downloaded at no cost. Please refer to the “Terms of Use” section for more information, or call 1-800-391-1905 for specific questions.

14. How can I contact persons who have prepared material for the Lectionary?
Brief information (institutions where persons teach, pastor, or are enrolled) are listed atop each piece of material. If additional information is needed to contact a writer, persons should call 1-800-391-1905 or send an e-mail to

15. Will the Lectionary do additional Preaching Institutes similar to the one that it held in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2010.
Yes. Check the website and our Facebook page, and look for E-blasts and mailings about upcoming Preaching Institutes.

16. Where can I purchase a copy of the Lectionary theme song?
This song was commissioned especially for the Lectionary and is not available for resale.

17. How can I send a compliment, question, or concern to the Lectionary team?
To send a compliment, question, or concern about the Lectionary, persons can use the Contact Us page on the website, send an e-mail to, or visit our Facebook page and leave a message there.


2013 Units