I couldn’t have predicted the response that I received after I posted a comment on the Black Church. The term Black Church has been used to describe the African American Church, which is the most revered institution in the black community. It is indeed quite sad that anyone would have to call his or her church a black church, or a white church. I will proudly submit to you that the God of the Bible transcends color, and either God is Lord of All Born-Again Believers that follow his precepts, ways and his word, or he is not Lord at all. The scriptures state that God is not a respecter of persons, so that would mean that God would not be enamored by the race or ethnicity of any believer. Yet, it is still surprising to me that to just mention the term black church causes such an uproar.
I am the descendant of a people that were brought to this nation in the hulls of slave ships. I am not asking for an apology from anyone, but I am asking many of you that come to this blog and others to consider the following point of view. We shouldn’t have to call a church a Black church. However; one would be remiss to not note that there has not been widespread reconciliation in our houses of worship. The African American People are less than 7 generations up from being banned from reading, writing, and even worshipping God.
While American pulpits and choirstands have proclaimed that God is love for hundreds of years, systemic and institutional racism has prevailed in our nation and even in our churches. While the slaveowners studied the Holy Writ, they brutally assaulted many of the initial African American slaves. Where there prayer meetings before lynchings? Why was the mainstream church silent for so long on such a horrible practice as slavery? The Black Church was basically all that people of color possessed.
Blacks had been lingering at the bottom of the American social caste chart for years. One of the commandments of Jesus was to love one’s neighbor as one would love himself. Is it a sin for an African American to savor the fragrance of an African American Worship Service? I submit to you that it is not a sin for one to enjoy his or her church’s flavor of worship. Our church has had a proud legacy, and I am not ashamed about loving the ambiance of The Black Church. There have been many efforts to integrate churches throughout our land, yet 11 AM on Sunday Mornings is still the most segregated hour on the clock.
If one would pay attention to our television ministries and our megachurches, there are many preachers of other races that pastor or oversee thousands of members of color. Yet, this is not true in the inverse. If one would follow all of the major African American ministries in our land that have black pastors, one would not find an overwhelming “percentage” of other races in the congregation. This is why there has been a so called black church.
Our modes of worship are different and that is not a discredit to any race. Are we really committed to reconciliation in our houses of worship? There was a previous pastor of a large mainstream church in Memphis,Tennessee that once stated-I can’t wait to get to heaven, so I can go on the Negro side of heaven and sing one of those great Negro spirituals. Will there be subdivisions in heaven? Was he reciting what others secretly believe?
Prayerfully, the houses of worship in our land will learn to work together on common ground. We are all aspiring to make it to a place called heaven where there will be no segregation, busing, or separations by ethnicities. One could surmise that racism has sometimes even crept into the House of Grace. The enemy must love to see the church separated by lines of color. Let’s eradicate this problem. If we ever plan on seeing the Christ that we all preach about, we had better get started!
Pastor Stephen F. Smith
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