The Black Church, is it AWOL?, by B. Mchie
Many of my family members were raised in the Baptist Church. One of the reasons I attend services is to bond with a community that looks like me. Another is that for the most part these fine people practice enough of the commandments in their lives that I feel that closeness we all seek.
Historical evidence documents in the 1500s that the Portuguese conquered the kingdoms of Ndongo and Kongo and carried Catholicism to West Africa. It is likely that the slaves who arrived in the Americas had been baptized Catholic and may have had Christian names. For the next 200 years, the slave trade exported slaves from Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal and other parts of West Africa to America's South. This business venture started in what we now call Brazil and made its way north through the Caribbean to Florida. Here they provided the hard-manual labor that supported the South's biggest crops: cotton and tobacco during the agrarian era. Around 1758, the black church was the first source of land ownership for slaves in America. Fast forward to last centuries Civil Rights era SCLC, and many other groups and individuals became an active face of this religions community purpose.
Perhaps we are looking at the difference in generations when it comes to the views of Americans. There is a fine distinction between the generation of those in the civil rights era, and the generation of today. However, one thing is certain the Black church still has a voice, and is accountable for what is said. There is a higher authority to answer to. And that authority is God. Thankfully within the 2017 Baptist convention racism was formally condemned by the church. Yet with Charlottesville episode of racial hatred we see major differences in Christianity voice being heard or being vividly silent. This includes the black church. This blog post on August 28th, 2017 is for a reason. Today, a multi-racial coalition of faith, student and community activists will march more than 100 miles from Charlottesville, Virginia, to D.C. in response to what they call President Donald Trump's failure to confront the white supremacy on display at a violent rally in the Virginia city earlier this month. The March to Confront White Supremacy is expected to end in D.C. on Wednesday, Sept. 6; will the black church be visible?
There is current dialogue happening in all churches, and Sunday still remains the most segregated hour in America. It is my belief that any religion must have leadership, that is directed from the top. Yet that direction is carried out by its membership. Ministers, etc. are like the hood ornament on a car but the congregation is the engine, transmission etc. that really make the vehicle move. The state of the Black church rests in the hands of its leaders, and whether or not they can overcome the barrage of outside attacks and inside commotion that has besieged its four walls. There was a time when the Black church was seen as the staple of the African American home and community.
In general, I do not feel the black church is absent without leave (AWOL). Yet spirituality is like oxygen and many of us are gasping for a stronger breath that the church can supply more of. If there was ever anything needed; it was the church that many would turn to its Pastors and leaders holding up a banner of integrity, compassion and love. And, where it wasn’t the size of the church’s monetary account that mattered; but the size of its account with God that mattered, and the heart and life of its congregation.