The Becket Fund is delighted to bestow its highest honor, the Canterbury Medal, on United States Senate Chaplain, Dr. Barry C. Black.
As a writer, naval officer, and minister, Chaplain Barry Black demonstrates courage in the defense of religious liberty through his spiritual guidance to our nation’s leaders. Every morning, Chaplain Black leads our country’s lawmakers in prayer, and in doing so, carries out a vision inherited from our Founding Fathers. In beginning the day with prayer, Chaplain Black sets the discourse for the day in one of the highest chambers in the nation, in turn setting the spiritual tone of the country. But more importantly, he serves to remind legislators of the foundational truth that our rights “come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.” Chaplain Black bears witness to that truth, ministering alike to leaders of many faiths and of no faith at all. It is a practice that predates the founding, and Chaplain Black fearlessly carries it into the modern era.
The Office of the Chaplain is nonpartisan, nonpolitical, and nonsectarian and has been a position in the U.S. Senate since 1789. Dr. Barry Black was elected to the role of chaplain in 2003 and is the first African American and first Seventh-day Adventist to serve in the position. During his service he has become a highly respected and sought-out member of the Senate community, giving senators the philosophical and theological tools they need to apply ethical principles to lawmaking. He is the spiritual provider and counselor for not only 100 of the most powerful lawmakers in the nation, but also their families and staff – a combined constituency of over seven thousand people.
Prior to Capitol Hill, Chaplain Black served in the U.S. Navy for over twenty-seven years, ending his distinguished career as the Chief of Navy Chaplains. In that role, he built a legacy of promoting tolerance and respect in religiously pluralistic environments.
Chaplain Black is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and an alumnus of Oakwood College, Andrews University, North Carolina Central University, Palmer Theological Seminary, Salve Regina University, and Alliant International University. In addition to earning Master of Arts degrees in Divinity, Counseling, and Management, he has received a Doctorate degree in Ministry and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Psychology.
Chaplain Black may be known for sporting his signature bowtie on the Senate floor, but he is perhaps best known for his inspiring words on faith and unity. His books on those themes include The Blessing of Adversity, Nothing to Fear, Make Your Voice Heard in Heaven, and his autobiography of overcoming personal adversity, From the Hood to the Hill.
The Canterbury Medal is Becket’s highest honor. It recognizes an individual who embodies an unfailing commitment to the preservation of religious liberty in American society. A champion of religious liberty for people of all faiths, Becket is proud to recognize Dr. Barry Black as the 2019 Medalist, who carries out his position as chaplain of the U.S. Senate with courage and faith in democracy.
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Articles and featured:
Deseret News: A nickel saved his life and now he walks the halls of Congress (Doug Wilks)
WORLD Magazine: Due Honors (Emily Belz)
The Washington Examiner: Senate Chaplain Barry Black Asks for ‘More Patriots Who Will Stand for Right Regardless of the Consequences’ (Melissa Quinn)
Deseret News: Why the Senate Chaplain Calls Spirituality a ‘National Security Issue’ (Kelsey Dallas)