Saturday, June 27, President BARACK OBAMA was at the COLLEGE Of CHARLESTON to eulogize the Rev. Sen. CLEMENTA PINCKNEY (D: SC), who was the Senior Pastor of the EMANUEL AME CHURCH, a State Senator, and one of nine people slaughtered Wednesday, June 17, at the CHARLESTON CHURCH MASSACRE that took place at the Emanuel AME Church in CHARLESTON, SC!!!
During his impassioned message, President OBAMA used his baritone voice to lead the entire congregation in a soul-stirring rendition of traditional gospel hymn, AMAZING GRACE, and for a brief while it seemed as if The POTUS Took AMERICA BACK To CHURCH.
Of course, Saturday was not the first time that the BLACK CHURCH has felt the collective eyeballs of the nation upon our worship service.
Whenever there is tragedy, death of a leading figure, and certainly whenever there is scandal involving a church pastor, choir director, deacon/ness, usher, or janitor - the voyeuristic nature of citizens who ordinarily would not give a second thought to attending a black church service compels them to turn on their TVs, log online, and/or if residing in the nearby vicinity - actually attend the service.
If we date back to our ancestors who arrived in the NEW WORLD by way of the TRANS-ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE, then we must acknowledge that in some form or fashion, the BLACK CHURCH has always been the epicenter, the barometer, and the pulse of the BLACK COMMUNITY.
BLACK PEOPLE have ALWAYS known, yet; WHITE PEOPLE have NEVER understood this fact.
The beginnings of the education of Black Children are rooted in the Black Church, as are the foundations of many of our HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). It was and remains where much of the nearby local community receives a breakdown, editorial, and commentary on local, national, and international news events. And of course, the local church was the local Social Center.
Continuing until today, if you need information on or about the happenings in the Black Community, you can easily find it at one of three places - 1. Barber/Beauty Shop, 2. Bar/Lounge/Social Club, and/or 3. Black Church.
Yours Truly CCG was born, baptized, and raised within the irony of a Black Church inside the denomination of the UNITED METHODIST CHURCH (UMC).
The term irony would be described as accurate because the UMC has always been a religious affiliation that has a majority WHITE population.
The irony would also be correct because in 47 short years of THIS life, Ya Boy can only ever count attending two or three worship services at UMC Churches that were NOT BLACK.
TIME Journalist ERICA WILLIAMS SIMON self-describes as a pastor's daughter. church leader, lifetime card-carrying, washed in Blood of JESUS (CCG took personal privilege there) member of the BLACK CHURCH, and offers these TOP 5 LESSONS AMERICA CAN LEARN From BLACK CHURCHES:
1. How to build community.
Born at a time where there were few other places for African Americans demonstrate their full humanity with one another, today, the black church is where the hard work of building beloved community never stops. Where people show up for one another and have hard conversations. Where people offer money, food, emotional care, physical presence and touch. In an era when support often means no more than a tweet or a text, the black church is one of the few places where people still regularly come together to nurture one another, grow together and meet each other’s needs. It is where people share stories, wrestle with ideas, fight, forgive, break bread, and, literally and figuratively, wash one another’s feet. Where tears flow freely and accountability matters. The American community could learn so very much from this model and how wonderful would it be if our human community did the same?
2. How to honor the young and the old.
This one seems oddly specific, I know, but in a society that often patronizes the young and isolates the old, the church is one of the few spaces that brings both together and holds each up on a pedestal of preciousness. How many other public spaces in America would have found a 26 year old out with his 87 year old aunt on a Wednesday night as was the case with Charleston victims Tywanza Sanders and Susie Jackson? Where else in America facilitates regular intergenerational dialogue and lift up the voices of both in the process? In the black church, each generation is appreciated for its unique wisdom and insight. Both the very young and the very old typically have seats reserved for them, are encouraged to take on roles of leadership and esteem. And most importantly, their happiness and engagement are seen as key measurements for the health of the community as a whole. Would that society at large operate the same way.
3. How to survive.
This one speaks for itself. In the face of bombings, fires, shootings and attacks of all kinds, the people remain. Many black churches, still today meet in basements, movie theaters, schools, warehouses and storefronts. They push through obstacles and hardships to come together and commit to never letting go of their faith, their community, and most importantly, the act of living. This doesn’t just “happen”. It isn’t some superhuman, magical force that allows black churches to bounce back and hold on. They practice the deliberate, strategic art of survival every single day.
4. The nobility of faithfulness.
How easy it is for us to abandon the hard things today. Work, relationships, causes that don’t yield immediate results – all can be discarded and replaced with the click of an email. But from the black church we learn the importance of commitment and faithfulness. The practice of showing up Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday, week after week and year after year, come rain or come shine builds the character necessary to stick with the fights that our livelihood and democracy depend on.
5. How to fight a righteous fight.
I am not sure when or where the narrative of the “prayerful and passive” church mother came from, but I’m convinced it was created by the same kind of people who created the pernicious welfare queen stereotype (Don’t quote me on that. It’s my own personal conspiracy theory.) The idea of the black church only bowing on our knees in times of hardship, is not only a historical and theologically inaccurate, but it flies in the face of those who, like Rev. Clementa Pinckney did, work every day to combat injustice armed with faith and sharp, strategic action. From time immemorial, the black church has known how to fight and has been inherently activist and political, even in its very formation. It is that same history that has always made the church such a beacon for those who have wanted to engage large swaths of black America in campaigns – and also for those who want to stop it’s powerful civic organizing through efforts as subtle as voting rights restrictions and as extreme as shocking acts of violence. It is this history that makes me hopeful about those within the church who lift up their voices against sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, and all other forms of oppression that still exist.
ERICA WILLIAMS SIMON has the full 4-1-1 for you at TIME.
Sunday, June 28: CCG on Greeter/Usher Duty
Sunday, June 28: CCG on Greeter/Usher Duty