Although it is Thanksgiving weekend that will be filled with family, friends, food and of course, football, the culmination of the holiday this year cannot be football or basketball or hockey games on Sunday. This year, due to what has happened in Ferguson, Missouri – the culmination has to be preaching.
For those pastors who will be home Sunday or for those associates or guest preachers who will be filling pulpits across the country, to simply preach without making a reference to or directly speaking to or prophetically preaching to the pain of the African American community and the society at large is malpractice.
Someone once asked his pastor, “what I do I preach?” The pastor told him to get out of his ivory tower office at the church, go to the hospitals, hang out in the barber shops, go to the grocery stores and then he would find more than enough to preach. Preaching that is void of connectivity to current and relevant circumstances is not preaching, it’s a speech in a robe.
The circumstances of Mike Brown’s death are certainly well known. I think what the majority culture of this country fails to realize is that the anger in the streets is not about another death, because when you pull out the statistics, you are more likely to be killed by a member of your own race than from another (i.e., more blacks kill blacks; more whites kill whites; more asians kill asians” according to FBI murder statistics. In 37 years of ministry, I have buried victims of murder and in not one instance was it someone who was killed from someone outside of their race.
That’s not the issue. The issue is that the perception within the minority races of this country is the cavalier nature of our value when it comes to the color of authority – when those men and women who wear uniforms as police, state patrol, national guard, etc., a reasonable argument could be made that instead of “taking down” a suspect via a disabling shot to the arm or leg, that deadly force is not the last option, but the first option. Further, it is well believed in our community that if a person of color (especially one who has no money) is dealing with judicial system they are less likely to succeed or they are less likely to receive adequate and aggressive representation. Sentencing statistics are staggering and prior to President Obama’s administration, a man convicted of a small portion of “rock” cocaine would get a greater sentence that a man convicted of a small, more-potent portion of “powder” cocaine.
Whether it’s true or not, it’s the perception. Add to the mix that we are losing our heroes. Our politicians that represent us are rarely seen in the community once they are elected. In my area, our state representative is visible and viable. We all know where his office is, we all know where he worships, we see him in the grocery stores and at community events. But the truth of the matter is that many of our politicians show up to our churches to campaign for votes, many of them rarely stay for the entire worship, and it is rare to see any even give during the offering. Even our celebrities are found with clay feet. They are not the larger-than-life personalities we once thought they were. Whether it’s true or not it’s the perception.
Freedom of expression is a Constitutional right. Rioting is not. I propose a different type of rioting – let’s riot in our communities. Let’s fix them ourselves. Let’s employ our anger into making real change. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and those of the movements of the 60s and 70s fought for our rights as citizens. Now we must make our citizenship real. We cannot complain when less than 40% of us vote. We cannot complain when 80% of us try to escape jury duty. We cannot complain when we fill up an auditorium to see Beyonce and Jay-Zee at $200 a ticket and then stay home on Sunday mornings and disconnect from our communities in the worship hour.
This weekend we need to preach Biblical answers to our feelings of pain, hurt and ethos. This weekend we need to dig deeper and yes, even suggest that justice also has to be meted out with grace and forgiveness. We need to preach that misplaced anger only damages ourselves. During the Rodney King riots, I visited a friend who worked at the Arco Tower in Los Angeles and we were there watching the riots and noticed that it only happened in one part of town – the African-American part of the city, and it was literally on fire – black businesses, black homes, black stores, black car dealerships, black churches.
Our communities are hurting. Our young men are without viable fathers in the home. Our young girls have been valued for their whirls and gyrations instead of their beauty and brains. Our institutions of higher learning connect during the day and disconnect after hours with the communities in which they serve. Our school boards don’t represent the community. Our elected officials rarely represent the communities. Our leaders have gotten older and less imaginative. Those who speak for us really don’t in many cases because of their lack of a God-directed voice or agenda. The recession may be over on Wall Street but the depression is still gripping our communities – especially in our larger cities.
This is not just a “black problem” because any part of the larger context of society that is in pain creates a context of pain to the larger whole. Every community has its set of problems but it’s effects affects the larger society. The millions who our President wants to bring out of the shadows should not be viewed as “less that human” because they sought for themselves and their families a better life. However, the plight of Hispanic-Americans affect the larger context and therefore the larger discussion within our society as well.
The issue of Mike Brown cannot be solely rested as a black problem. It is a complete breakdown of the system. Why deadly force was preferred instead of other methods including tazing of which the officer was to have said to the grand jury that he didn’t prefer to carry it because it was uncomfortable. Why a dead body was let to stay in the hot sun for four hours and no immediate response by EMS services because it “was a crime scene?” Why a grand jury, secretive in nature, was allowed to meet and yet details from their proceedings made it to television and print media and no judge acted accordingly to slap a gag order on all participants or at least considered dismissing that grand jury and impaneling another? Why a Prosecuting Attorney handling one of the biggest cases in the area’s history would boldly come to the microphone and say that instead of him pro-actively handling the case, that he “turned it over” to two other attorneys within his office? Why the National Guard was ordered deployed and yet black businesses were left to burn unprotected? And finally, why make a decision that everyone knew was going to kindle emotion and reaction be announced in the middle of the night, after office hours, after everyone knew in law enforcement, judicial, government and schools, instead of during the daylight hours when it would have been less attractive to the potential of danger? These are not black problems – they are societal flaws that need to be addressed.
We cannot be satisfied with a small percentage of us voting. It’s got to not only be voter-eligible but we need to become candidate-eligible. We’ve got to encourage people of color to run for offices – even if they don’t win, we need to be on every ballot in every state – regardless as to the political party.
This weekend – my brother, my sister – no matter what denomination you hail from; No matter what convention or fellowship you are a member of; No matter what side of the political spectrum you stand upon; Roll up your sleeves, humble before the Lord, dig deep, search the Scriptures, get into Logos, WordSearch, whatever resources you use . . . This weekend – YOU MUST PREACH.
EDITOR’S NOTE – I am on sick leave and I saw this very interesting and compelling post concerning Bill Cosby, who is certainly in the news headlines, and for many in my age group, we “grew up” watching him on I Spy and famously, The Cosby Show. I want to interject this perspective from a young man that I watched developed in ministry in his formative years in San Diego. His father, the late Dr. Willie James Smith, and I pastored together in San Diego – just a few short blocks apart. We were in the same district (Progressive), state (California Missionary Baptist State Convention) and national (National Missionary Baptist Convention of America), and share pulpits for many, many years. I want to introduce him to you and his unique perspective of this news event. A dynamic young minister and I’m sure you’ll be challenged by his point of view!
INTRODUCTION – Kristian Smith was born February 23, 1984 to W. James and Toni Smith in Oakland, CA and spent much of his adolescence in San Diego, CA. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in telecommunications in 2006 as well as his Master in Business Administration in 2009, both from Alabama A&M University where he was an all-conference performer and team captain of the SWAC Champion AAMU football team. During his college years he was also an active member of the Alabama A&M Gospel Choir. In 2005, Kristian received one of the highest honors of his life, when the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame named him a National Scholar Athlete for his athletic prowess and academic success. He was only one of 18 student-athletes from across the country to receive this honor.
He’s had a sincere desire for the word of God from his childhood and acknowledged his call to preach at the age of 22. As a preacher and worship leader the primary aim of his ministry is to remain faithful to God’s word and see people’s lives positively impacted as a result of his obedience to Christ. He has served in many areas of ministry including worship leader, conference planner and facilitator, bible teacher, and youth worker. His ultimate goal is for God to be perpetually glorified in his life and through his ministry. Kristian is a fitness and fashion consultant and he is currently a studying at McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in pursuit his Master of Divinity degree. He is an assistant worship leader at the House of Hope, Atlanta in Decatur, GA where Dr. E. Dewey Smith Jr. is his pastor. Kristian is also married to the former Ms. Pamela Merritt.
Cliff Huxtable vs. Bill Cosby
by Kristian Smith
I am not, nor do I claim to be a blogger. I’m a entrepreneur/minister who feels compelled to share my view on the Bill Cosby rape allegations.
Today I preached a message entitled “Cliff Huxtable vs. Bill Cosby: Living in a Dichotomy between your reputation and your Character.” I didn’t share the message with the intent of vilifying Bill Cosby, but rather the opposite. I believe we as Christians should check ourselves before we start throwing stones at Bill Cosby, while we are comfortably perched in our glass houses.
I do not in any way excuse the heinous nature and troubling pathology of the crimes for which Cosby is accused. They are terrible crimes, and if he is guilty he should be held accountable.
But, the fact of the matter is, many of us, in our personal lives, have lived like Cliff Huxtable in the public and acted like Bill Cosby in private. If his crimes are legit, WE are the ones who overlooked them for years because we were so enamored with the idea of Cliff Huxtable that we ignored the fallibility of Bill Cosby. “Surely Cliff, America’s favorite TV Dad for the past 30 years, wouldn’t rape someone.”
Whether he did or he didn’t is not my judgment to make. But I do know that I am in no position to sit in the seat of judgment, with all of my shortcomings. We have all done some things we don’t want to come to light. We just don’t have the fame, fortune, wealth, power and influence of Bill Cosby. And whether you agree or not, the fact of the matter is, the aforementioned factors only intensify your vices. So, imagine your current vices multiplied by 1000 because you have unthinkable wealth and power. I don’t know about you, but that is a scary thought for me.
I’m saying this to say we cannot discredit Cosby’s entire legacy because of his misdeeds. As a Christian, I am directing this post specifically towards other Christians. If you can’t compare Cosby to yourself, then consider our beloved King David, the most powerful and successful king in the history of Israel. He’s one of the most talked about and beloved biblical characters in the Christian tradition. Yet, if we read his whole story closely, we will find that David was guilty of adultery, deception, murder and possibly rape (if you don’t think it’s possible for King David to be guilty of rape, go back and read 2 Samuel 11. Tell me where Bathsheba consented to having sex with him. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that he raped her. I also can’t say, for sure, that he didn’t rape her. He saw her; he sent for her; he had sex with her. Did Bathsheba have an option to say “No” to the king? We don’t know because the text was written in a patriarchal society and it has been interpreted through the lens of a patriarchal society. So the writer of the text gave Bathsheba a name, but he gave her no voice. Ultimately, when chapter 11 ends, the writer says God was only displeased with David).
So, with all of these charges against David, have we removed the 23rd Psalm from out Canon? Can we no longer say “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want?” Have we stripped him of his legacy because of his misdeeds? No, we recognize that although he did some foul things in his life, he was a “man after God’s own heart.”
So, before we discredit and scrutinize everything Bill Cosby had ever done, let’s remember that we have some issues of our own. Also, let’s remember that David wasn’t always a model citizen but we constantly celebrate his good deeds and inspirational works.
Residents of Deptford’s Jericho section are saying goodbye this weekend to a man who gave more than 60 years to his community and his faith.
Rev. William Donald Willis, assistant pastor at the First Baptist Church of Jericho, died Nov. 18. The preacher, who was a fixture in Jericho and a dedicated participant in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, was 100 years old.
“I used to hear him preach from the time I was 10 years old,” said Rev. Clabon Bogan, the pastor of First Baptist for the past 20 years. “I’ve known him for almost 50 years. That grew to the point where there was a vacancy here at the church, and Rev. Willis was the one who approached me about the position I hold now.”
A native of Carolina County, Virginia, Willis moved to Camden with his family at the age of 13. It was at New Mickle Baptist Church in the city that Willis met his wife, Mildred Ann Graham, who died in 2001. The couple had three children and raised one of their nephews as well.
After leaving school with a sixth-grade education to help support his family with a railroad job, Willis eventually returned to school, graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School before attending seminary and earning a doctorate degree.
Willis worked as the main pastor of First Baptist from 1953 to 1983. In those 30 years, he was a major player in a variety of initiatives, including establishing a church summer camp and holding a number of positions in the statewide Bethany Baptist Association.
In the 1960s and ’70s, Willis became a major local leader of the Civil Rights movement. He brought a number of guest ministers to Jericho to discuss a range of social topics, and attended Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington in the summer of 1964. Willis also hit the picket lines with other members of the clergy when Irene Hill-Smith, the leader of the local NAACP chapter at the time, was held in jail.
“He was bigger than life to us,” said his daughter, Karen Burgwin. “He loved people, and he loved helping people. And he was very mission-minded. He reached out to people all over the world and was very adamant about the church’s involvement with foreign missions and locally as well.”
As far as his political activism went, Burgwin said, “he determined he was free like everybody else.
“He took us everywhere,” said Burgwin. “He stepped out along with other community leaders like Irene Hill-Smith to make sure that people’s rights weren’t being stomped on.”
Willis did not take his children to see King speak in Washington, but his daughter Cheryl Rolen shared one memory of seeing her father in action.
“I can remember an episode here in Woodbury where he took my sister and I and a couple of our friends to the diner, and the lady didn’t want to wait on us. He spoke with the manager, and then he let us order seafood platters,” Rolen said, laughing.
“We made her awfully angry. I know he did things like that. He didn’t usually pull us into them, but he did do things like that.”
On a personal level, Willis’ daughters said friends and family could always count on him to listen to their problems, provided they were ready to hear what he thought. Soft-spoken but principled, Willis always stood by his convictions.
“He was a very caring person. People knew when they came to him that he was going to listen, but that he was also going to tell them the truth, whatever that truth was.”
And although he may have been busy throughout his career, his daughters said, he never forgot about his family. Willis was particularly fond of food and travel, and was a charismatic friend who loved to hear personal anecdotes and share jokes.
After stepping down from the pulpit in the First Baptist Church, Willis spent the later years of his career working as an interim minister at several different congregations. He came back to Jericho as an interim before signing on as assistant pastor when Bogan joined the church in 1994. Willis had to scale back his activity in his late 90s when he was diagnosed with dementia, but he kept the title of assistant pastor until he died.
“He had the ability to show his love even though he didn’t voice it. It was about action and not rhetoric,” said his grandson, Chris Rolen. “As I embark on my own personal development, I realize he embodied changing yourself so you can change the world. When I think about him dropping out of school and getting a doctorate and becoming a scholar, the places that he’s been and educating himself the way he did, that’s what I want people to remember about him. He changed himself so that he could change the world.”
Willis is pre-deceased by three sisters and eight brothers. He is survived by his younger sister, Pearl, who lives in Camden; his daughters Karen and Cheryl of Woodbury; son Charles of Philadelphia; numerous grandchildren as well as great and great-great-grandchildren; and his nieces and nephews.
A viewing will be held for Willis Friday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Jericho, 981 Mail Ave., Deptford. The family will greet visitors at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and a funeral service will be held afterward at 11 a.m.
by Robert Earl Houston
The Faith Community around the world received the shocking news on late Sunday afternoon that internationally known preacher and author, Dr. Myles Munroe, his wife Lady Ruth Munroe, his executive pastor Richard Pinder, and several members of the staff of his congregation, Bahamas Faith Ministries, International, were killed in a tragic airplane crash in the Grand Bahamas Shipyard, on approach during a storm to the airport.
According to the church’s website, the souls who perished in the crash included, Dr. Munroe, his wife, Pastor Ruth Monroe, senior vice-president Dr. Richard Pinder, newly installed Youth Pastors Levard and Radel Parks and their son Johannan, and pilots Stanley Thurston and Farkhan Cooper, and one additional passenger.
Dr. Munroe, 60, was a trailblazer in so many areas. He was one of the first international voices that God raised up from the small nation of the Bahamas, as a prophetic voice in this generation. His teachings on leadership, on developing the next generation, on singleness, and life after divorce, have been cutting edge and the basis or echoes of many teachings that are commonly found within the Body of Christ.
There was not a medium of ministry that Dr. Munroe was not involved in. Whether it was writing books, speaking at auditoriums, stadiums or at private meetings with heads of state, or television ministry or internet, he was “everywhere” while encouraging everyone else to be “everywhere” as a believer.
I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Munroe on several occasions and he was in person like he was on television – smiling, laughing, full of joy, and serious about ministry. A clip that is found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noLu-9PauxU&feature=youtu.be had an interesting comment by Dr. Munroe about leadership. He stated that the problem in his country and others like his is that leadership is not preparing the next generation. He used an example of a runner who refuses to pass of the baton to the next runner and that the runner will wind up dead in a casket while someone has to pry the baton from his hands. He was intentional on raising up the next generations of leaders and, ironically, was on his way to a conference he was conducting on Global Leadership with an emphasis on growing new leadership.
His compendium of literary works include: The Principles and Power of Vision; Understanding the Purpose and Power of Woman; Understanding the Purpose and Power of Prayer; Rediscovering the Kingdom; Keys for Marriage; Power of Character in Leadership; The Purpose and Power of Love and Marriage; Kingdom Principles: Preparing for Kingdom Experience and Expansion; Spirit of Leadership; The Purpose and Power of Praise and Worship; The Most Important Person on Earth; Understanding Your Potential: Discovering the Hidden You; Waiting and Dating: A Sensible Guide to a Fulfilling Love Relationship; Understanding Your Place in God’s Kingdom; Fatherhood Principle; Understanding the Purpose and Power of a Man; Single, Married, Separated and Life after Divorce; the Myles Munroe 365 Day Devotional; and many, many more. At his death he authored or co-authored over 100 books, and wrote from various publications, Bibles, and online magazines.
Dr. Munroe was born on April 20, 1954 and was a lifetime resident of the Bahamas. He graduated from Oral Roberts University in 1978 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Education and Theology in 1978. He earned his Master’s Degree in Administration from the University of Tulsa in 1980. He has received many honorary doctoral degrees and briefly served as an adjunct professor of the Graduate School of Theology at ORU.
He is the founder of the Board of Trustees of the International Third World Leaders Association. He has been invited to over 80 nations as an ambassador of his nation, to address government bodies, business leaders, universities, and religious organizations. He received numerous civic awards including being the youngest recipient of the Queen’s Birthday Honors of the Order of the British Empire Award 1998 bestowed upon him by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, II of England, for “his spiritual and social contributions to the national development of the Bahamas.”
His wife, Ruth, served as co-pastor with him at his church. The couple are survived by two adult children, Myles, Jr. and Charisa. Homegoing services are pending.
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CHURCH:
On behalf of the Board of Governors and the entire Bahamas Faith Ministries Family we wish to extend our gratitude for the tremendous outpouring of love and support by the many persons who have offered condolences and prayers.
Among those confirmed to have passed away in yesterday’s tragic plane crash were Founder & President of Bahamas Faith Ministries International Dr. Myles Munroe and his wife Pastor Ruth Munroe, Senior Vice-President Dr. Richard Pinder, Newly installed Youth Pastors Lavard and Radel Parks and their son Johannan, Pilots Stanley Thurston and Farkhan Cooper and one additional passenger.
Words cannot express our profound sense of loss for all of the team members on this tragic flight. Dr. Munroe was our visionary, our founder, our mentor, advisor, father figure and friend. He was a global leader and icon and was respected worldwide. His wife Ruth was a faithful companion and constant support for Dr. Munroe and was equally beloved.
Dr. Richard Pinder was the embodiment of a true Pastor who loved people, was faithful in service and gave his best to all. Pastor Rich as he was affectionally called was truly the glue that kept our ministry together. His warm smile and personal pastoral care was truly a comfort and a blessing to so many of our members throughout the years of our church.
Pastors Lavard & Radel Parks were recently installed as Youth Pastors of the Youth Ministry having both being officially ordained and installed as the church’s second full time Youth Pastors on Easter Sunday April 20th 2014. Both were products of both Dr. Munroe and Dr. Pinders’ leadership and were personally mentored by Dr.Dave & Pastor Angie Burrows.
Our pilots included Senior Officer Stanley Thurston who was an experienced pilot and served for many years as Pastor Myles’s personal pilot. Also on board was Co-Pilot Frakhan Cooper who was also a faithful member of our aviation team. Both gave excellent service.
Dr. Munroe taught us to have faith and to pursue purpose and advance the Kingdom Principles of Jesus Christ here on earth. He also taught us to be leaders. As a Church body and organization we will move forward as Dr. Munroe would have wanted us to. We recognize that there will be challenges but we have full confidence that God will see us through and we intend to make our founding leaders proud.
We ask for your continued prayers and support. We will issue further details on plans for home going services and other matters relating to the future of Bahamas Faith Ministries in due course.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.
One of the greatest frustrations of newly called pastors is what I have termed is the Rubber Band Church.
Often times Pastors come in with different expectations and anticipations than the congregation that has called them. After pastoring over 25 years, I have discovered that churches will adapt to the vision of the Lord through the Pastor with great success or they will snap back and return to their original form which is the Rubber Band Church.
Recently a young pastor reached out to me. He has been at his church 18 months and the church and is frustrated that “they haven’t changed.” He ranted and raved for 30 minutes and then I said to him that churches have a center core. They have certain practices and belief systems that are at their core. You can stretch them or try to stretch them or suggest that they stretch – but at the end of the day (and this is non-denominational), a church will return to it’s center.
That is applicable even during a pastoral change of leadership. How well I remember leaving my former congregation in San Diego. For months, I sat in the audience with my deacons because I was tired of being the focus of attention. I am primarily a worshiper. I wanted to worship without every eye of support, criticism or ambivalence staring at me. I resigned on a Sunday morning, came down to the office to clear my office on a Monday and peeked into the sanctuary, and those chairs that I had removed miraculously and mysteriously reappeared. Chairs in a pulpit were a part of that church’s center core.
I’m not suggesting it’s always a bad thing because all churches need to have core beliefs. The Word of God should never be compromised; Preaching and Teaching the Gospel should never be rebuked; Serving each other and the community should be resident within a congregation. However, brother and sister pastor, they are some things that will always bounce back to center and become part of the lore of that congregation.
Whether it’s a name change or location change or change of worship or change of structure – some churches will eradicate change made by a leader to “get us back where we belong.” It’s akin to the GOP mantra of “taking back our country.”
Three things to be careful of:
1. Make sure that you are stretching the congregation because of the Lord and not because of an agenda. Keeping up with the Joneses is a poor excuse for stretching a congregation.
2. Make sure that you have a firm grip on the process. One of the most painful experiences can occur when you stretch a congregation (rubber band) and then it slips and you get with the force of the rubber band.
3. Make sure that when you stretch make sure that the vision for it is compatible with the amount of effort you’ll be exercising. Never put out great energy for minute projects.
I pray for that pastors and leaders who are challenging their congregations to go beyond boxes, limits and paradigms. And may the church follow and not grudgingly stay in place like a rubber band that will not yield.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED