The African-American church…friend or foe?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I know that this will not be a great experience for me, or the church, but it needs to be said without any mental reservation. With that in mind, I am just the one to tackle this job. You see, I have no immediate ties to any church in this area. I don’t sing in the choir, visit your sick, or care for your children during morning service. That would take God himself to handle that task!

I’m just a regular person who always seem to have the pulse of the public expressed in my presence. There are countless issues that I randomly think about and consider daily. I know that for me, the African American church has lost some, no a lot of appeal. It was a time when the church meant that everyone there cared for one another. There was nothing that you needed, where someone would not pick up the fight and help. Now, which seems to be a bombardment of commercialism and greed. Just try calling your Padre for help. It is most likely that you will be passed on to a sectional Deacon who has no clue who you are! His or Her best answer will probably be just pray about it. Don’t get me wrong…prayer for me is the most powerful tool that I have, because I have been shown myself, and through countless others that we are our best allies.

We simply worry about how much money is in the building fund, who will be singing the next solo, who will direct the choir or how much money we can retain in our personal accounts. I knew of a gentle preacher who actually started a credit union to help everyone, especially members of the flock. If not for him and his infinite wisdom, several of the neighborhoods today would not exist. It was because he cared for everyone. God bless his soul!

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I know of and have talked to countless others who feel the same disservice from their spiritual leaders. Unfortunately, their longtime prestigious standing within a church, and afraid to voice their opinions make for a well-oiled calamity, for which this institution was not established.

It is not enough in my opinion to just to &uot;Praise Ye the Lord&uot; on Sunday, and actually do nothing of significance any other time that makes a difference.

This city’s homeless rate is at astronomical proportion, while several churches are planning to break ground on multi-million dollar structures that do not include a place for someone to sleep just for a night. You better believe that the banquet hall will have more square footage than your personal residence. City council has prepared and delivered an ordinance on begging. Did you expect any less than begging when a person is down on his or her luck probably for the first and last time in their life. A helping hand would probably suffice! The only time that you should look down on a person is when you are lifting them up!

With a church on every other corner, it is hard to believe that we as a people have so far to go, within our own race. We are expected to sit, be quiet, pay your tithes, and voice absolutely nothing. And if you have something to say…maybe a church of your suiting would be in order. This is insanity, when you keep on doing the same thing looking for different results.

On a lighter note, there are certainly African American churches within this city, which have thriving ministries. Lets see if we can turn the African American church back into a place of warmth and love where absolutely no one is left behind regardless of your financial status or who you proclaim to be.

S. Terence Gill is a resident of Suffolk.