Conversatio Divina

Lightning Interview: Mark Nelson with Barbara Peacock

Mark Nelson & Barbara Peacock

01.  Introduction

The Dallas Willard Annual Book Award Program was created in 2015 to recognize and encourage original written work that reflects the intellectual commitments that characterized Dallas Willard’s work throughout his career. One of these commitments is that real spiritual and moral transformation is possible, and that the most important path to transformation lies through the historic Christian spiritual practices. Barbara Peacock’s Soul Care in African American Practice was selected as the Book Award winner for 2021, because it is a rich and loving reflection on the spiritual practices that “have been woven into the fabric of the African American culture.” Dr Peacock focuses on three practices in particular – prayer, spiritual direction, and soul care –as manifested in the life and thought of ten African American men and women, historic and contemporary: Dr. Frederick Douglas, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mrs. Rosa Parks, Dr. Darrell Griffin, Dr. Renita Weems, Dr. Harold Carter, Dr. Jessica Ingram, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Dr. James Washington and Dr. Howard Thurman. She shows how these African American Christians forged their profound and distinctive approaches to these practices, often in bondage and oppression, to nourish a faith that can sustain the soul.

Watch a video of Dr. Peacock delivering a lecture at Westmont College.

02.  Interview

  1. First of all: some “retrospective congratulations” to Dr. Barbara Peacock, winner of the 2021 Dallas Willard Research Center Book Award for her book: Soul Care in African American Practice (IVP Books, 2020)!
    • To God be the Glory!
  2. What is your current position, and how long you have been there?
    • Co-Owner Freedom Financial Advantage (18 years)
    • Founder of Barbara L. Peacock Ministries (10 years)
    • Founder Peacock Soul Care (An Institute for Formation and Direction, 2 years
    • Author
  3. Where did you go to college, seminary, and graduate school?
    • North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC – Bachelor
    • Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NC – Master
    • Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA – DMin
  4. What church were you raised in? Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a pastor and teacher?
    • Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Whiteville, NC (ages 0-22)
    • Gave my life to Christ at age 14 (During Fall Revival). In our tradition it was not the norm for women to lead. I did not sense a calling but knew I had an intimate relationship with Christ.
  5. For people who don’t already know your work, could you summarize your book in 1-3 sentences?
    • Soul Care in African American Practice provides a foundation for prayer, spiritual direction and soul care from an African American perspective. It also identifies ten spiritual leading heroes and sheroes (historical and contemporary) whose lives exemplify engaging the processes of spiritual formative and the implementation of spiritual disciplines.
  6. Your book has been very warmly received. Were you at all surprised by that?
    • From the beginning of my formative journey until now, I have sought to diligently follow the path I sensed God directing me. Indeed, I have been surprised by the response and humbled by the opportunity to serve the faith community and beyond.
  7. Anyway, it seems to have “scratched an itch” that a lot of people have been feeling for a long time. Why do you think that was?
    • To dive into uncharted territory is not for the faint at heart. However, when God pursued me to travel in such waters, I trembled as I said “yes.” But undoubtedly, I knew He was beckoning me to “come.” Consequently, as a result of my obedience, I hear conversations from other minorities and ethnicities speaking up as they share their sense of calling to write from their unique spiritual and formative perspectives.
  8. On a personal note, one thing I appreciated about your book was that it was formative as well as informative. The various chapters inform the reader about some particular African American pastor, teacher, or leader, and the role of spiritual disciplines in their lives. But each chapter also guides the reader through exercises in prayer, contemplation, and other formative spiritual practices.
    • Thanks so much for your response…
  9. We gather that you have recently published another book. Congratulations on that! What’s it about? Do you see it as following on from your earlier book?
    • Thank you! Spiritual Practices for Soul Care: 40 Ways to Deepen Your Faith is definitely the appropriate book to write after Soul Care in African American Practice. In this book I identify 40 practical and transformative spiritual disciplines.
  10. We here at Incarnatio want to connect with brothers and sisters in Christ from different parts of the country and from different denominational backgrounds. We want to do this because we know we do not have a monopoly on theological truth and spiritual practice. From the African American Christian traditions, who are one or two pastors and teachers that white evangelical protestants on the West Coast should know more about?
    • Dr. Darrell Griffin – author, spiritual director, pastor (Chicago, IL)
    • Dr. Debbie Manigat, spiritual director, therapist, leader (West Palm Beach Florida)
  11. In closing, are there any particular passages of Scripture that are much on your heart these days?
    • Ephesians 1:15-23
    • Matthew 22:37-40
  12. Thank you for your time!
    • You are most welcome.