by Rev. Dr. Johnnie Monroe
Once upon a time and not too many years ago, the African American Church was an important institution in the African American community. When we consider our history as a people, we realize the important role that the Church played. Much of the family and community activities centered in and around the Church: weddings, receptions, game nights and meetings. All the “rights” of our people, civil rights and educational rights, started from and emanated from the Church. The Black Church was the one institution that we “owned.” We owned the land; we owned the building; we paid the preacher. The Black Church was a place to not only gather to sing, pray and worship but it was the place where we met, organized and strategized. Marches for freedom and liberation began in the Church. It was our place of FREEDOM and ACTION. Whenever there was work to be done and we needed hands on deck, we went to the Church.
Many of our African American leaders (Nat Turner, Henry Highland Garnet, Richard Allen, Benjamin Mayes, Benjamin Hooks, Mary McCleod Bethune, Lucy Laney, LeRoy Patrick, James (Jimmy Joe) Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr. were churchmen and churchwomen who were led by the spirit to fight for and bring about change for the betterment of African Americans. When Saul Alinsky and Greg Galluzzo wanted to do community organizing in the Black community, they first sought the endorsement of the African American Church.
I recall when, in the South, the state, county and the federal government took no responsibility for educating Black children, the Church stepped up and ensured that we received an education. I am the product of such an education. The Black Church must go back to the business of teaching Black boys and girls who they are and whose they are.
When we look at the African American communities today, we see the need for the Black Church to come alive, open her doors, reach out to the community with the love of Christ and bring about positive change. We can’t depend upon the city, state, county or federal government to change our communities. Change (political, educational, and moral) must come from the Church. And yes, the Black Church must be engaged in the political process. After all, Jesus confronted and dealt with the political system. Can we do any less? The Black Church must preach and teach voter education, voter registration and insist on African Americans voting as never before. We must bring Sunday morning and Monday morning together to effect change.
Enter to worship (Sunday morning), go forth to serve (Monday morning).
When those two meet, great things happen!!!