I Love The Black Church by Minister David J. Seymour
I Love the Black Church
As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I was born and raised in the church. I love church with every fiber of my being. The church has made me into the man that I am today. My life experience has taught me there are many forms of church, and I have a healthy appreciation for many of them, but I absolutely love the Black Church. I want to be crystal clear, the Black church is in no way perfect and still has some really archaic ways, but it is the church that introduced me to Jesus Christ.
Although it is not commonly taught, there is a significant African presence in the Bible, and one could argue that the Black church emerged on to the scene on page one of the Bible when speaking of the Garden of Eden. A few Africans identified by the following names may also suggest an earlier Black church: Nimrod, Zipporah, Ebemelech, Simon of Cyrene, and Rufus of Rome.
By Black church, I don't mean the color of the building, but I am talking about church expression that was birthed out of Black people in this country. The first official church for Black people in America was organized by Bishop Richard Allen of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) When you think of Black church, you may think of hand-clapping foot-tapping choir singing. Or perhaps you think of loud and expressive preaching with a whoop. Perhaps you think of shouting under the influences of the "Holy Ghost". All of these important traits can be found in the Black church, but the Black church is so much more to me than expressive forms of worship.
Today the Black church is found in many denominational forms, and despite your denominational flavor or preference, they all find commonality in that the Black church is simply not just a church. The Black church has had to be all things to all people. The Black church is oldest Institution for Black people in this country. No other single entity can trace its roots back as far as the Black church. And though her value may not be what it once was, the Black church is still a constant in our communities. You may not attend services in the building, but the pastor and the event within the building are known. And when trouble comes she is available to hear the cries of her people.
The primary objective of any church including the Black church, is to glorify God. But the Black church has been tasked with a number of unique assignments. In a country that did not recognize persons of African heritage as fully human (3/5th human in fact), the Black church provided space and a place for Black people to regain our humanity. In a place that robbed us of our nationalities, cultures, and education; the Black church stepped in and filled the gaps and provided answers that the American history was not willing to answer.
When political institutions denied our people a platform to be heard from, the Black church opened her doors and provided a pulpit to express our issues and demands on our own terms. If it were not for the Black church, the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as powerful and we would have never known people like Dr. Martin L. King.
I recognize that everyone may not share the same love for the Black church that I do, and that is fine. I also recognize that I would not be who I am if it were not for the Black church. And if the truth be told, many of us have that same testimony. I also know that because of certain restraints of writing a blog that I have not fully articulated my Love for the Black church. I will end by saying; ultimately I love the Black church because the Black church is the Great Equalizer expressed best through the words of the Negro National Anthem:
Lift Every Voice and Sing by James and John Johnson
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers died
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.