FaithHamil R. HarrisReligion

Black Church Solid Despite the News

Better Times Ahead, Chaplain Says

Even in the face of hatred and a plague of biblical proportion, the Black Church remains strong and can expect better days ahead, according to Morehouse College’s chaplain.

Dr. Willie F. G-dman, chaplain and associate professor of pastoral care and counseling, chief speaker at the Morehouse School of Religion’s 153rd Annual Founders Day, reduced the state of African Americans to five words: “We have been here before.”

“Why we are investing in the church because all of it is needed now,” said G-dman who took note that in this passage the veil in the temple had been split and the answer was why.

“What the author is saying is that the community did not take care of Jesus, the religious community, even his disciples, did not take care of Jesus. They handed him over to foreign authorities.”

“The veil has been ripped from top to bottom,” G-dman said. “What that means brothers and sisters that we can no longer rest with a notion where we can get our happy on. We talk about the veil in the temple being ripped from top to bottom and we get our hoop on and we begin to holler that Jesus died for our sins..emerging theology tells us that that is not enough.”

“When Jesus did the work of healing it was not done in the temple. Most of the time people found him in the streets…They found someone who was invested in him. Maybe folks do not trust us in the work for which we are called. What it means, brothers and sisters, is that you and have to go to the streets and meet people where they are and not to castigate them. The Black Church has done this type of work before.”

Following the worship service, Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Smallwood, Esq., Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Director of the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative at Vanderbilt Divinity School (Nashville, Tenn.) delivered the annual Dr. C.D. Hubert Lecture.

The political victories by the Democrats during the 2020 elections were greatly fueled by an army of faith and Monday Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, standing alongside Georgia’s two new senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, credited their victories in Georgia with flipping power in the U.S. Senate and allowing Democrats to draft a relief package that will help those in need.

“I want to emphasize that point because many of us have been fighting for the expansion of Medicaid for years,” said Warnock, who is pastor of the Ebenzer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was once pastor.

“Folks here in the Congress had been trying to get states like Georgia to expand Medicaid. I literally got arrested in an act of civil disobedience trying to get our state to do the right thing.”

Church leaders voiced hope that 2021 will usher in a new era of political change and social activism lead by people of faith.

“The pandemic has already pushed us to the streets,” said Rev. Henry P. Davis, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Highland. “Right now the greatest impact of our churches outside of our walls we have been feeding since last March we have been helping in our community and the greatest thing the church is to go outside.”

Rev. Tony Lee, pastor of Community of Hope AME, said in an interview, “The pandemic has caused us to remember that we don’t go to church. We are the church.”

“It has been our job to show up in the community, ” Lee said. “Even though we have service online, we have been feeding, we have been providing services, we have given out tens of thousands of rolls of toilet paper, of boxes of food and meals.”

Lee went onto say that despite the greater need, “we have still been conducting funerals and ministering to people and trying to helping people emotionally. In times like these people need to feel the presence of hope.”

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Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the Greater Washington Area. Hamil has chronicled the Million Man March, the Clinton White House, the September 11 attack, the sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the campaign of President Barack Obama and many other people and events. Hamil is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of the Washington Post where he writes a range of stories, shoots photos and produces videos for the print and online editions of the Post. In addition, he is often called upon to report on crime, natural disasters and other breaking issues. In 2006 Harris was part of a team of reporters that published the series “Being a Black Man.” He was also the reporter on the video project that accompanied the series that won two Emmy Awards, the Casey Medal and the Peabody Award. Hamil has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, the American University, the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia. He also lectures several times a year to interns during their semester in the District as part of their matriculation at the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities.

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