Category Archives: Social Justice

Finding Freedom: Through Thick & Thin

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Great God, oh mighty! Lord, have mercy! July is supposed to be a month where America celebrates its independence and a value system that is anchored in freedom. However over the past 31 days, we have experienced a resurgence of white supremacy groups as they fight to persevere the racist legacy of the confederate flag, increasing skepticism towards law enforcement agencies as wide-spread misconduct looms amid the investigation of Sandra Bland’s untimely death , and mass shootings, such as that which occurred in the theater in Lafayette, are becoming common-place, tabloid fodder. Not to mention people endure turmoil that doesn’t make news headlines everyday. Unfortunately, it would seem, that America is imprisoned by its own history, stuck in a cyclical culture of corruption, a thick fog that enables hypocrisy and prevents the actualization of the pioneering intention for American to be a City upon a Hill. Jesus, be a fence!

The Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5-7

The Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5-7

The concept of America being a beacon of light to the rest of the world was borrowed from Jesus Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount”  told over days to Jews, Gentiles, Christians and political leaders on a hillside near Capernaum. During his sermon, Jesus compares believers to the salt of the Earth and the light of the world: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden,” he said (Matthew 5:14). While this country was built upon the slavery and exploitation of marginalized ethnic groups, America’s  democratic government made it seem exceptional to the rest of the world.

However today, America’s concept of freedom may have transformed into wide-spread individualization and materialism. In Ecclesiastes 1:9 King Solomon extols of the meaninglessness of a life focused on prosperity without God. He professes, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” During biblical times, just as today, greed, pride and prejudice permeated society. To his disciples in the new testament, Jesus asks, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Jesus teaches that succumbing to worldly pleasures makes one vulnerable to society’s maleficence and denies he or she the opportunity to be a light to the world in the glorious kingdom of God.

There were many people that tried to deny Jesus Christ’s divinity and proclaimed his teachings heresy. Saul, whose names became Paul after his conversion, was one of these men. Saul “breathed murderous threats” against Jesus, consequently offending God. One day Jesus spoke to him and gave him instructions to journey to Damascus. After this encounter Saul’s sight was gone but, he followed through with God’s plan. Late Jesus sent his disciple, Ananias, to restore his sight and fill him with the Holy Spirit. Miraculously his sight was restored. He became a believer and an instrument to spread the gospel. He proved to be a faithful servant of the Lord spreading light throughout the land.

Saul’s story illustrates that the murky gloom of ritualistic traditions and mob mentality – often endorsed by various societal institutions- can distort the light of the Holy Spirit. How can one break free of society’s bondage and emerge from the darkness? Where can one find strength to hang on through the thick and thin? Throughout history the light of God has always existed whether man sought to be in the Lord’s presence or not. When explaining the significance of the birth of Christ, John the Baptist notes “The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:6) Because of man’s denial, God was compelled to send his only begotten son. Probably one of the most important scriptures to understanding the Christian faith is when Jesus reveals, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 4:16).

So how can one find freedom? Be faithful, be renewed, be a light.

God bless,

All Nations Baptist Church

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June is Black Music Month!

June is known for cook-outs, weddings, and… Black Music Month! Be honest, did you know that? Many people don’t know that June is dedicated to honoring African Americans’ contributions to this country’s musical history and culture. You also may not be aware of the long struggle that took place in order to get formal recognition of musical heritage through the U.S. Government. Three music industry executives, Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams, began lobbying for a formal celebration of black music in 1979. In response, President Jimmy Carter hosted a White House reception to commemorate the efforts of black artists throughout America’s history. While there were annual celebrations hosted throughout the country—even at the White House—for decades, there would not be official recognition of the monthly theme until US-Representative Chaka Fattah sponsored House Resolution 509 in year 2000. In 2011, President Barack Obama proclaimed:

“The music of our Nation has always spoken to the condition of our people and reflected the diversity of our Union. African-American musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters have made enormous contributions to our culture by capturing the hardships and aspirations of a community and reminding us of our shared values. During African-American Music Appreciation Month, we honor the rich musical traditions of African-American musicians and their gifts to our country and our world.”

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From a biblical standpoint, some may wonder why a secular holiday is so important to Christianity. In America, “black music” is rooted in gospel and spiritual tradition. President Obama further asserts:

“From the cadenced hums of spirituals to the melodies of rhythm and blues, African-American music has been used to communicate, to challenge, to praise, and to uplift in times of both despair and triumph. The rhythmic chords embedded in spirituals have long expressed a deep faith in the power of prayer, and brought hope to slaves toiling in fields. The soulfulness of jazz and storytelling in the blues inspired a cultural renaissance, while the potent words of gospel gave strength to a generation that rose above the din of hatred to move our country toward justice and equality for all.”

Gospel music has stirred the soul of listeners, spurring much-needed reflection and unification, through this country’s history. Intended for communicating a a divine message to seemingly abject slaves, gospel music provided freedom to those who had none. It convinced the hopeless that there would be better days. And, Today, it continues to provide solace —which may not be so easily found in other Christian genres—for all people.

For Christians, specifically, God expects us to sing his praises. Throughout the bible, there are hundreds of scriptures even full chapters dedicated to the importance of singing the exaltation of God. Psalm 100:1-2 states, 1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Spiritual principle compels Christians to spread the good news of God’s grace and mercy, joyfully. In I Corinthian 14, Paul is explaining the importance of true worship to the congregation in Corinth, a church which was plagued by sin and inequity. His letter states, 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. Singing to the Lord is just as important as praying to him and requires equal conviction.

Similar to our world today, the city-state of Corinth was a bustling metropolis filled with people of all different backgrounds and belief systems. Paul makes it clear to Christians that it order to spread God’s word and combat negative influences they must confront secular society with unwavering faith, joyfully proclaiming the true word of God, untainted by colloquial interpretations. Celebrating black music is an opportunity for  Christian believers to exalt the highest praises to our Lord and remind the world how the gospel genre remains one of this nation’s most influential styles of music.

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96: 1-3).

#OurLivesMatter because #AllLivesMatter

The third Monday in the month of January has been a national holiday, marked to commemorate the legacy of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr since 1983. Many people take the day off and others use it as a “day on,” to fortify the moral fiber of our nation by engaging in service projects and helping community members. As the year continues, we all should work towards keeping  Dr. King’s dream alive and integrating it into our own aspirations for America’s future.

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The social events of the past few months concerning the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York give pause to the conscience of righteous people. The deaths of African American males without the opportunity of the trial to hear all sides of the story leading up to the deaths is problematic. The church community according to scripture, in dealing with grave matters of this type, must “fast and pray.” Pray for strength to remain non-violent and fast from the materialism, over-consumption, commercialization, and systemic corporate powers, even police powers, which neutralize our will and ability to seek justice.

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Paul explained to the Romans that law is a powerless force when compared to the savior, Jesus Christ.

“Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives?…  4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh,[a] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7: 1-6).

Because of Christ’s divine gift of rebirth, Christians are ultimately bound to our relationship to God, above all. Only through manifesting the Holy Spirit can we fully demonstrate love, pleasing in the eyes of God, and help America become a true beacon of light for the world.

God is a God of justice and requires each us to speak truth to corrupt powers and demand their accountability. The reason that Dr. King’s dream resonates over 50 years later is because it’s implications are much more significant than the passing of a law or election of a black president. Standing on a platform of godly love, his words transformed the imagination of the entire nation. People realized that the stain of the status quo didn’t have to taint the nation’s future. On a grassroots level, Dr. King is the consummate advocate, demonstrating effective strategies and techniques for mobilizing the masses and achieving change. Despite his legacy of activism, today, African Americans continue to be disproportionately affected by poverty, homelessness, unemployment and inequitable educational opportunities. The movement coined #BlackLivesMatter has renewed a sense of communal identity and united people of all races, cultures and ages, to ensure that all men are treated equal in this country. People of God and goodwill have a responsibility to confront ungodly corruption, peacefully. Ministry work should have an impact beyond immediate church congregations. Seek to find a cause where you can use God’s love and sew seeds of justice.

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“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).

God bless,

All Nations Baptist Church

DC Rallies Against Police Brutality

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Over two weeks after Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer, Darren Wilson, Ferguson, Missouri has finally settled from a melee, which erupted throughout the city. Peaceful protests have spread from this community– which was virtually off of the map until the recent tragedy– across the world. “Hands up, don’t shoot” is the mantra, #dontshoot is the soundbite.

While Michael Brown’s death is at the forefront of our minds, many people are recognizing a larger social paradigm under which the rate of police brutality has, seemingly, increased and the value of human life has declined. While a comprehensive collection of statistics on the abuse of power by law enforcement agents is most likely a good sociological endeavor, the facts remain that there is a growing mistrust of law enforcement among US citizens, social media being the best resource for a collection of data on this matter. The question becomes how can Americans regain their trust in the people that are charged with protecting their most basic human rights and physical safety? The answer: we must demand change.

In the nation’s capitol local organizations have rallied against unlawful police enforcement tactics and brutality. This past Friday, All Nation’s own Pastor, Reverend Dr. James Coleman was a guest speaker on the radio show, Think On These Things, hosted by Lyndia Grant, giving a poignant commentary on how social justice can be restored in Ferguson as well as nationally.

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul stated, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Everyone should feel empowered to share their perspective and participate in peaceful efforts to ensure that justice is won for any citizen who has ever been abused, harassed, or victimized by the police. It may not be immediate and swift, but it can not happen without the love, faith and commitment of caring individuals. For more information on opportunities to get involved, click below.

Black Youth Project 100

CODEPINK: Women for Peace

Rally for Justice Against Police Brutality

Blessings from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,

All Nations Baptist Church

The church where Christ and community connect.