The First Rosa

The First Rosa: The Rosa J. Young Project Featurette from Meghann Mealbach on Vimeo.


“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. One Generation will commend your works to another: they will tell of your mighty acts.”

(Psalm 145:3-4)



Who was Rosa Young?

Rosa Jinsey Young (1890-1971) was born in rural Alabama. She was gifted with unusual intelligence, faith and determination. God enabled her to found 33 churches and schools throughout southern Alabama with support, both spiritual and material, from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.


What makes Rosa Young’s life important to remember?

Her story illustrates clearly how God is able to raise up servants to do His will in the most adverse circumstances, and how their obedience to His guidance cause blessings to many people, continuing through generations.


What were Rosa Young’s greatest achievements?

  • She taught over 2,000 students, impacting their lives forever with her faith and her belief in the importance of education, at a time when education was not available to the children of sharecroppers.
  • Many of her students entered the Holy Ministry or became parochial school teachers at her urging, impacting many others with their fidelity to her vision.
  • She wrote her autobiography Light in the Dark Belt, bringing her life story to the reader.
  • She founded Alabama Lutheran Academy in Selma, AL, to train her students to become teachers or to prepare young men to continue their education at seminary.
  • Today that educational institution, Concordia College, continues to provide college education affordably to young men and women.
  • Many of her students moved north during the Great Migration and founded churches which extended her ministry throughout the country.


When did she receive the title “Doctor”?

Rosa J. Young was awarded an honorary doctorate by Concordia Theological Seminary during their commencement service in May, 1961. She was both the first woman and the first African-American to be honored in this way by the Lutheran Church.


What is the Rosa Young Movie Project?

During an anniversary concert at St. Philip Lutheran Church in Detroit in 2009, the idea for a movie based on her life was impressed upon Susan Hill, wife of Rev. James M. Hill, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, and Family of God, all in Detroit. She began to share this dream of a movie with others who knew Rosa Young’s story. A Task Force was formed to pursue this goal in the spring of 2010.


What has the Rosa Young Movie Task Force done to move forward?

  • A professionally-produced movie trailer, “The First Rosa” was commissioned, filmed at Detroit’s St. Philip Lutheran Church, and presented to the Black Ministry Convocation in July, 2010, in Houston, Texas.
  • Interviews with students and family members enriched the scope of the project.
  • Fundraisers, including two concerts and a prayer breakfast within the Detroit Lutheran community, have helped to support the movie project financially, as well as publicizing the movie effort by introducing Rosa Young’s life to many.
  • The RYMP has been announced and explained at the Annual Rosa Young Homecoming in 2010 and 2011 in Rosebud, AL.
  • The RYMP was legally incorporated as a registered non-profit organization.
  • A new promotional DVD, using resources from the movie trailer, concerts, and interviews was produced.
  • Endorsements of the RYMP have been obtained from pastors throughout the country who led congregations begun through Dr. Young’s mission.


When will the RY movie be produced?

Movies are a complicated matter, requiring money, talent, planning, and good screen-writing. The RYMTF is walking by faith in this matter. Building awareness and grass-roots support fot the RYMP has been our plan. We believe that the goal of a movie based on the life and ministry of Dr. Rosa J. Young is an inspiration that will be realized.


How can I help?

The RYMTF sincerely desires the prayers of everyone who knows Rosa Young’s inspiring story. Help in locating anyone who knew her is especially sought. Additionally, contributions in any amount are very welcome, and will be used exclusively to advance the production of the movie. Memorial donations in memory of Rosa Young students will be recognized on the website and also at the Rosa Young Museum in Selma, AL.


What will the movie accomplish?

Because recounting the marvelous works of God encourages and strengthens the faith of Christians, we believe a movie treatment of Rosa Young’s life will powerfully connect her story with many Lutherans, and African-Americans of every faith, as well as the larger movie-going public. A movie will bring glory to God; who blessed many people through the life of His servant Dr. Rosa J. Young.

God bless you as you consider the possibilities of the Rosa Young Movie Project.


The First Rosa, The Rosa J. Young Story

“The First Rosa”
The Rosa J. Young Story
In Loving Memory of Rosa J. Young and Rev. Richard C. Dickinson

A Documentary of the Life and Accomplishments of Rosa J. Young
Brought to you by:  The Rosa Young Movie Task Force
…and State of Grace Productions

“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts”
Psalm 145: 3-4

Goals: We pray that this movie will do so much more than record a deserving life.

1. We pray that young people will be inspired and see the potential with God’s guidance to change our communities. 2. We pray that our inner city churches will draw strength from the truth Rosa lived: When I am weak – He is strong 3. We pray that our Synod will reflect the commitment first made to help Rosa by raising up new Rosa’s to face the challenges of today and the future.

The Rosa Young Movie Task Force: Rev. David Burgess, Dr. Ingrid Draper, Coretta Evans, St. Philips Detroit, Susan Hill (Pastors Wife of St. John, Mt. Calvary and Family of God Detroit), Rev. Roosevelt Gray, Rev. Richard Robinson (Holy Cross, Detroit), Kaye Dumas Wolff, State of Grace Productions, Meghann Mealbach (State of Grace Productions CEO and Director), Bill Mealbach (State of Grace Productions Producer). Our commitment is to creating and producing a quality film true to the person and values of Rosa J. Young. Advisors: Rev. Roosevelt Gray (Michigan District), Dr. David Magidson (Wayne State University, JET Theater), Mrs. Mary Smith (Lutheran City Ministries) Photographs: Mrs. Betty Brown, Rev. Meredith Jackson, Library of CTSFW, Dr. Robert Roethemeyer, Rev. Robert E. Smith Books: Julie Ganaway, Historical Zion Ft. Wayne. Still Photos:Rev. James M. Hill, Bill Mealbach

Purpose …”Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.”Psalm 145: 3-4. In Judges, it speaks of a time when the generation who witnessed the works of the Lord had passed, and the generation that had heard of the works of the Lord had passed and a new generation arose who neither knew the Lord nor heard of his marvelous salvation. We are at such a crossroads. The generation that witnessed God’s servant Rosa Young is almost passed. Those who’ve heard are not far behind. In a few more years, who will know her story or appreciate what God can do with one life, totally devoted to Him? This is the backdrop for the Rosa J. Young Movie Project. We live in a time when the obstacles before us are not so different than those Rosa faced. We also live in a time when hope, commitment, and trust in the power of the Lord are a vanishing resource.