Our pastor, Rev. Kornelius Neal, of New Destiny C.M.E. Church, last Sunday preached about the influence of Jesus on our lives and the sermon was titled, “Jesus, the Super Salesperson.” The message reminded myself and hopefully others of the overwhelming importance of the Black church in our lives.

I can remember when God and the Black church stood at the forefront of determining what path we as Black people would travel as we sought to be free men and women. In those years that we were slaves, the property of other people, we could call on God and pray for deliverance. I will always remember a portrait of an elderly Black slave and a caption read, “I pray that our God will allow me to live long enough to see my children be free men and women.”

Yes, we trusted God in our darkest days. It was punishable by death if the slave masters caught you reading, but there were those of us who read the Bible anyway and prayed and thanked God. There came a time that we were emancipated, free men and women, and we were free to worship God openly. At the beginning we were required to sit in the balconies of White churches and the White ministers would quote scripture to justify our segregation in the house of the Lord.

However, there came a period of time that Blacks founded and organized their own churches, AME, C.M.E., AME Zion (Methodist), Baptist, Pentecostals, etc. The Black church was there for us before the NAACP, Urban League, Black elected officials, before we had the right to vote, etc. The church instilled in us the established fact that we were somebody long before MLK was born, helped us to understand we were somebody long before we began to march and shout, “I AM BLACK AND I AM PROUD.”

Black churches built colleges long before the government gave out grants. More frequently than not, the only building owned in the Black communities were the Black churches, often grand edifices. Then there became a period of time that Blacks were moving on up and out, they now lived in the more affluent communities and the churches of their mother and father was no longer acceptable. Too many Amens, dancing, speaking in tongue, just not sophisticated enough.

I am a lifelong, active member of my church, and I truly understand how far God has brought us as a people, and it is my conviction that God did not bring us this far to leave us. There is a church somewhere in your community. Look it up, and start attending. God has a spot for you and a job for you.

Sometimes we get confused by overusing the expression, BIG CHURCH and SMALL CHURCH; But the Bible never refers to a church by its number of members. Jesus simply said: “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”

I will be looking to see you in church in the near future.

(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)


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