"God's Amazing Grace: Reconciling Four Centuries of African American Marriages and Families" should be on every bookshelf in America!
Dr. Terry M. Turner Compassionate Genealogist
Terry M. Turner is a native of Guthrie, Oklahoma, and has made Dallas County his home for over thirty years. He and his wife Nancy have been married for thirty-nine years and are parents to four adult children and twelve grandchildren.
Most of his family research is in the states of Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas. His research has allowed him to make solidified family connections as far back as 1770 in Georgia. Dr. Turner has been able to find several of his great-grandparents beyond the 1870 brick wall before the Emancipation Proclamation.
He is a member of the National Genealogy Society, National African American Genealogy Society, Texas State Genealogical Society, Dallas Genealogical Society, Dallas African American Genealogical Society, Georgia Genealogical Society, Oklahoma Genealogical Society, and Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
In 2014, he earned a DMin from Dallas Theological Seminary, emphasizing marriage and family that explores the impact of slavery on the African American family compared to other ethnicities. In addition, he is a certified PREPARE/ENRICH Marriage and Family Counselor and Facilitator.
In 2018, he authored a Christian historical and genealogy book titled God's Amazing Grace: Reconciling Four Centuries of African American Marriages and Families. This book traces the ways Christianity and the governmental regulations in the American slave system impacted the marriages and families of enslaved people.
He launched a Youtube website, “Embracing our Ancestors,” to teach African Americans how to perform family research and find lost ancestors. This website introduces a new book When Grace Flows Backward: Embracing Our Ancestors, to be released this year.
For thirty-one years, Dr. Turner organized and pastored the Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas. In his semi-retirement years, he has joined Dancestors Genealogy Services as a genealogy researcher specializing in researching African Americans during the years of slavery.
Dr. Turner is a speaker on several Genealogical subjects to help researchers develop methods for discovering their African American family in past generations.
God’ Amazing Grace compares the destructive reality of slavery and Jim Crow in our country and its continuing impact on our society today, it is essential to first remove the blinders from our eyes regarding the history of African Americans. As with any damaged structure, hope remains that Christ can restore healthy families; the African American family is no different. Moving through history and into the current century, marriages in African American families have evolved. However, black couples must maintain a struggle with the integrity of marriage to ensure strong families in the future. The most significant battle is mentally overcoming a history of being stripped from husband/wife and kids and forced into adultery, fornication, and even incestuous relationships against your will. A lifetime of humiliation was the plight of most African Americans in slavery. While not even classified as a human, these men and women were defenseless and unable to protect themselves.
For these reasons, families were completely mutilated and scattered. Sexual sins are not always viewed as such because for years, under the law, incontinence, fornication, adultery, bigamy, and other sexual crimes were not off-limits for African Americans in the era of slavery. These ill effects are still rampant and haunt African American families and homes. They have the highest rates of broken gender relationships, children born to single mothers, cohabitating couples, missing fathers, and divorce.
Now that marriages are legal and laws are in place to protect the sanctity of marriage, African Americans must take advantage of the opportunity and stop destroying their families due to the multi-generational transmission from the years of slavery. This research points out that enslaved people did not have a chance to abstain through legislated immorality contrary to the Scriptures.
For centuries, faith in Christ has held the African American family together through adversity. Their faith is well documented in this book by how it helped enslaved people maintain their livelihood and even escape mentally and physically. However, this faith was an outlet for the troubles that continued into the Civil Rights Movement. What amazed me most was how many came to faith in Christ and trusted him despite the abuse and injustice they faced.
New Book Coming Soon!
Having the courage to trace family history from freedom through 100 years of enslavement in America will have been filled with despair and, other times, the greatest joys of finding lost loved ones. Eccl. 1:4 “A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. God’s grace has been the sustaining source for generations and centuries of those who trust in God’s loving-kindness.” Looking behind me into the mirror life, I see the hand of God guiding, protecting, and nourishing at each event throughout this generation and those of our ancestors. By grace, they kept the faith living among a people who are at times intentionally cruel and heartless. Knowing that God’s Grace is a divine gift that does His perfect work for our good in the present and past is a revelation that will change and shape your entire outlook on the past. One of the great blessings of salvation is the advantage of looking backward in life and seeing the hand of God at work in every phase of history.
It’s unimaginable that race hatred remains so intensely strong for over thirteen (13) generations in a country that has based its values on Christianity. Yet, somehow when it comes to race relationships, the commitment to serving God by loving one’s neighbor as oneself for many believers is lost in racial differences. The research of this book finds the experiences of my ancestors enslaved by people living the Christian life. As much as I committed to modern-day Christianity, it’s perplexing how slavery was at the core of Christianity. How could any true Christian believer have a Christianity that allowed the mistreatment of a person as an inferior human? Only because they are racially different from themself?