Yesteryears the church was the pillar of the community. The church was there for the community, not just for its members. The church was concerned about the whole man, not only his spiritual self.
The Black Church also served as a school house for the community. Many of our parents were educated in a church school. In times when Black folks did not have access to televisions and newspapers or other means of media, the church was where people assembled for information that was necessary for their total needs. In times past, the Black Church served and met the needs of the people of the community.
Today's pastor's have to step away from the pulpit for a little while and get involved with the communities needs. When Rosa Parks said, "Enough is enough!" The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., came from his pulpit and took to the street with the community at large. A church that is contained inside of four walls serves its pastor and members only and is only concerned about church work ? and not God's work. You see, God's work is ministering to the needs of the whole man, like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, and caring for the widows and orphans.
The Black Church of yesteryears did church work so well that we did not need convalescent homes, foster homes, or adoption agencies. We did not need Home Care providers because the church folk cooked, cleaned and cared for the sick. The Church, the pillar of the community in times past could galvanize the community to disseminate information by just toning the church bell.
The church needs to tone the bell today for literacy, self-determination via business ownership, and valuing the family. The church needs to step up to the plate and assess the needs of the community. If you are serving a community that has a large population of children in foster care, high unemployment rates, single mothers, health care system disparity, illiteracy issues, and high crime rates, your message needs to address those needs. You cannot use an "out of the can" message.
It is easier to talk spirituality to people when their physical needs are met. The church can change the dismal path of the urban communities. We only have a few media outlets that have a positive agenda for African-American people. However, if we had no radio, television, or newspapers, the pastors could outdistance all media combined when it comes to spreading the right message to its people during Sunday morning service alone. Many churches hold 2-3 services per day.
Can you imagine what would happen if the appropriate and empowering message went forth? Imagine what would happen if the pastor encouraged each member to give $5.00 per month to a fund to build Black owned businesses like supermarkets, hotels, motels, etc. This would create jobs, jobs, and more jobs in the community. How can Black pastors ignore the young, Black fatherless boys in their community who need a role model and mentor? Bishop Edward R. Turner, raised in a home with a mother and father, understands the difference it makes to have a father figure in a male child's life. He organized The Sons of Hope, under the leadership of Mark Ware.
The group is made up of 65 young men from the ages of 7 to 21. I watched them train and as they said in unison, "We have hope, we don't carry guns; we carry fountain pens with which we sign contracts and checks." I have never seen such discipline and respect. These young men are a part of a Financial Literacy Program. I also heard Bishop Turner say to his congregation, "If you want a pastor who is confined to these four walls, I am not the one!" Bishop Turner is an unorthodox and "out of the box" preacher. I hear so much about what the Black pastors are not doing, so I begin my journey of trying to catch one doing "good for the hood.
" I found Bishop Turner to be one who looks out for the community, and sometimes at the expense of his members. I heard him say once, "Building and empowering men and women can do more for the community, than building churches." Allow me to introduce a preacher who is trying to give people on earth a taste of heaven. Approximately 15 years ago, while driving by the Power of Love World Ministries at 1430 W. Manchester Avenue, in Los Angeles, I would observe a crowd of young people on the church parking lot. I decided to check it out.
I was impressed at what I heard from the Bishop ? Bishop Edward R. Turner. He was awakening his flock to the cold realities of life. He admonished them, saying, "You are the head and not the tail! You are more than a conqueror.
You will not stay on welfare! You will be homeowners! You will go back to college and get your degree; and you will own your own businesses!" The young flock all nodded their heads in agreement. I thought to myself, other preachers are telling people what Heaven is going to be like, preparing the people to live in Heaven, but this preacher is preparing the people to live productive and meaningful lives here on earth. I said, "Wow!" I then began monitoring his work. Most of his members bought homes, they went back to school and obtained degrees, and many of them started their own businesses.
Bishop Turner believes the concept that "I am my brother's keeper." He started the Community Day 15 years ago, with activities that included a Job Fair, Business Expo, Homebuyer's Expo, Clothing Distribution, and a Massive Food give-away. People of the community looked forward to Community Day. They would leave with empowering information, plenty of clothing and food.
Turner is a man of faith and a man with hope. He possesses what our people at large are in need of ? FAITH and HOPE. Bishop would hang the food give-away banner a month before Community Day. Six years ago he had no commitment for the food to feed the thousands of people they always fed, still he hung the banner.
The food commitment came two days prior to the event. Bishop was also elated to give away ten bikes that year. "Walk like you got it 'til you get it," is synonymous to Bishop's faith.
When you walk in destiny, help will come to you. Help did come and now Bishop is the Director of the Multi-Faith Clergy Council, under the leadership of Sheriff Leroy D. Baca, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. With the help of Sheriff Baca, the Multi-Faith Clergymen, and the Community Workers, Community Day took a quantum leap in 2003. It was held at Southwest Community College, with over 20,000 attendees.
Ten cars were given away. It was a great success! Ask and it shall be given. During Community Day 2004, 20 cars were given away. Hope comes to South Central and faith is manifested in the "hood." It is time for all ministers to step up to the plate and to do the right thing-now! Copyright (c) 2007 Rosie Milligan.
Dr. Rosie Milligan is an author, literary agent, publisher, motivational speaker and founder of Black Writers on Tour Conference. (www.milliganbooks.com and http://www.blackwritersontour.com ) You can get her reports at http://www.milliganbooks.com .