Headlines from the New York Times for Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Church Leaders Who Propelled Civil Rights Movement Look to Rekindle King’s Activist Spirit
(Below are a few excerpts from a long article that can be found in the New York Times on-line.)
Bishop Blake, 78, the pastor of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, has developed a reputation as a calming force in raucous moments — whether in the church or the community. But presiding over a Pentecostal denomination of roughly six million members worldwide, he is well aware of his power. And, like many black clergy members, he is grappling with how to use that power in an activist climate that has drastically shifted in style and substance since the civil rights era.
Bishop Blake is one of dozens of ministers who will converge on Memphis on Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most famous preacher-activists in history. But more than bowing their heads and saying prayers, the pastors will confront a reality that there is no singular leader among them with the national following of Dr. King, and that their churches are not as central to the social justice movement as they once were.
There are also differences in approach. Pastors often want to work within the system to effect change, while many activists try to disturb and upend the system.
“Religion at its best shows people how to live productively, safely and wisely and altruistically,” said Bishop Blake, who has led the Church of God in Christ since 2007.
Bishop Blake’s church has developed 400 units of affordable housing, and it has ministries that provide counseling, help the homeless and ex-convicts, assist black-owned businesses and tutor students. Many have credited him with transforming a once struggling corridor in the Crenshaw neighborhood, and he has laid out a plan for churches nationwide to do the same in their communities.
Bishop Blake tends to avoid politics in church but his stances are clear when he’s not in the pulpit. He called police violence “atrocious.” He hopes that someday “we will see some sign that President Trump is interested in the needs of all the people of our nation.”
“We’re in too much trouble to be divided and fighting and criticizing one another,” he said. “Who’s ever doing good, let’s join together around them and stand with them in the endeavor.”
Readings from the Gospel of John for Wednesday, April 4, 2018
The words of John 9 were certainly true for Jesus. However, in some way they are true for his followers, too. Jesus said, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9.4-5).
Jesus perfectly fulfilled the work his Father gave him to do. We followers of Jesus need to do the same. Several of my spiritual friends, who are members of Alcoholics Anonymous, speak of “doing the next right thing.” If people who follow Jesus did the next right thing as we are led by the Holy Spirit, we would do the works God has for us and be light to the world.
Prayers for Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Dear God, please empower your followers to do the next right thing.