Friends Michele Clark Jenkins Stephanie Perry Moore have joined forces to edit the Sisters in Faith Holy Bible to provide African‐American women with an inspiring way of bringing their Christian faith into their everyday lives. They spoke with ESSENCE.com about the inspiring message of Sisters in Faith, spreading the word beyond the pews and how sisters can bring Christ into their friendships.
ESSENCE: Why write a Bible for African-American women in particular?
MICHELE CLARK JENKINS: Firstly, we have not touched the translation of the Bible anywhere. I just want to make that clear because people misinterpret when you do Bibles for niche markets. They think that somehow we’ve changed the Bible. What we did was write the introductions to the books in the Bible from the perspective of African-American women. So what we tried to do is make all the scriptures bring out some relevant points for African-American women.
ESSENCE: Do you feel like the way we approach faith is different from other women?
JENKINS: Yes, absolutely. You talk about the fruit of the spirit, well, one of them is long suffering and we’ve probably done that long suffering better than anybody else. I can’t think of a segment of Christianity that has held on to their faith in the face of adversity more than African-American women have. I think there’s a lot that people can learn about their faith when African-American women begin to write and express our faith through our writing. I think that there’s a lot that everybody can learn from that because we’ve been through so much and never lost sight of our faith.
ESSENCE: What's the response been like so far?
STEPHANIE PERRY MOORE: We’re very thankful that everyone who sees it has been overwhelmed with not only the beauty of it but the importance of each of the features that we have there. We’re really starting to speak to African-American women's hearts and we’ve been overjoyed to hear the positive response. One of the features is a segment called "She Speaks" where Michele writes from the perspective of 50 women of the Bible speaking to the modern day Black woman. That’s been so successful we're actually turning into its own book. We’ve been overjoyed with that.
ESSENCE: What is it about "She Speaks" that resonated so much you had to write a book?
JENKINS: I think what’s important is that sometimes people read the Bible and all they see is men. They see mostly men, except for women like Ruth and Ester, about whom whole books were written on. But there were lots of women in the Bible and the importance of that was to say that every woman in there was there for a reason. And even if there were only three or four words about her, there was a reason why she was in God’s word and that’s a very important point for women to understand so they can read the Bible and say, 'Yes I can identify with the fact that each one of these women were purposeful and I can see how much more purposeful my own life is. We also highlight the women who were of African decent.
ESSENCE: When I saw the Bible I thought this would be great for a group setting of sisters coming together. What has been the outreach on your end in terms of getting, more than just publishing the book?
JENKINS: We are planning a series of conferences and we’re also reaching out to churches and attempting to partner with them for women’s conferences. We really do see our touchstone as first ladies of churches. One of the other things we’ve talked about approaching is hair salons and partnering with them to reach women inside the community. We've had stylists tell us their customers see them as counselors anyway so it would be nice to have some tools to work with
MOORE: Sisters in Faith has also been turned into a custom Bible for the Delta’s 100th commemorative Bible. I’m a member and they’ve just been very open and excited about not just their faith because the sorority was founded on Christian principles, but they love all the features in the Sisters in Faith Bible and as you just mentioned, it’s great for sisters to get in the word together and so they thought it was a perfect product to be able to make into a custom commemorative Bible.
ESSENCE: How does your own friendship and sisterhood play a part in this?
JENKINS: The Sisters in Faith concept came out of Stephanie and I's relationship. We’ve been through some highs and lows and lots of stuff together and at the end of the day we’ve been able to demonstrate to each other that we weren’t in it alone. We always try to put Christ in the middle of our relationship. It wasn’t just girlfriend you should do this, it was always like, 'Okay, what would you do?' That was what our relationship was built on and we want everybody else to know you’re not in this alone.
The Sisters in Faith Holy Bible: Encouraging and Empowering African-American Women with God’s Truth is available on Amazon.