Genesis Group

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The Genesis Group is a support group of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for African-American members and their families.

The group was first organized in 1971 in Salt Lake City, Utah, where African-American members could affiliate with each other. Ruffin Bridgeforth was the first president and served through 1978. As a train porter, he had met and talked with leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ while they traveled by train. The group dissolved soon after church president Spencer W. Kimball received a revelation that extended the priesthood to all worthy men (June 8, 1978).[1]

As time passed, African-American members of The Church of Jesus Christ believed they still had unique issues and could benefit from the reformation of the group, especially when many were the only members of African descent in their local wards, stakes, or families. The group reorganized in the 1990s.

Darius Gray served as president from 1997 to 2003. Don Harwell has been serving as president since 2003. The current Genesis presidency was set apart by Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the First Quorum of the Seventy. A member of the Seventy continues to oversee the group.

President M. Russell Ballard, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in a pre-recorded message at the 50th anniversary celebration of the group's formation, “Today the Genesis Group is organized in harmony with the church’s General Handbook as a multi-stake activity group in the Utah Area,” “It’s main purpose is to bring church members and others together as fellow citizens with the Saints and to encourage and support Black Latter-day Saints, their families and their friends to build faith in Jesus Christ, strengthen their membership in his restored church and foster unity."[2]

When the group first formed, it served as a resource for issues relating to African-American members throughout the United States. The group now functions under the Utah Salt Lake City Area and serves as a resource for black members, including black members in a multiracial family, throughout Utah. Similar groups can be formed in other parts of the United States and would function under the priesthood direction of the local stake or a member of the Presidency of the Seventy assigned to that area. Currently Genesis Groups exist in parts of Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, New York, and California.

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