Black Spirituality and Black Religion

Black Spirituality and Black Religion

(Photo Unknown)

“Our Black ancestors knew, for instance, the hypocrisy behind the “spoken” word of the slave master, or the slavery-supporting white minister, or the white Christians who condemned the civil rights movement, or even white Christians today who speak negatively of Colin Kaepernick or the Black Lives Matter movement. We have worked to develop a spirituality that subversively listens to what is “unspoken,” left out, ignored, or repressed in certain white, dominant forms of Christianity in our country. This spiritual discernment in itself is a form of Black spirituality.”

(Rev. Dr. Darvin Adams II)

Profiles in Leadership (v)

Profiles in Leadership (v)

(Photo from Allendale UMC)

“Out of that, we decided that we’d provide free meeting space for any group that was doing social justice work. We went from having no one here on campus to the place being full every night. As a result, some of those people started coming to church because we were showing up at their events and because we weren’t charging money. It wasn’t a transactional relationship; it was a transformational relationship. I would show up when they were in the building. I shared our welcoming statement that we had written, welcoming all people. Some of those people responded by saying that this is a church that they’d want to be a part of.”

(Interview with Pastor Andy Oliver)

After El Paso and Dayton

After El Paso and Dayton

The following is a collection of sermon and prayer responses to our nation’s two most recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. We give thanks for the bold leadership of these pastors and the many others whose work isn’t featured here. Until we reach a day in which these responses are unnecessary…

“God with us, we come to you today a people changed by violence. When O Lord will we be a culture changed by peace? When will we take seriously the work of this table, this bread, this juice? You commanded that we sit and eat together; it is that simple and yet that hard.”

(Rev. Holly Clark-Porter)

The People We Don't Care About, Part Two

The People We Don't Care About, Part Two

(Photo by Tamir Kalifa)

“If we truly felt like this was completely unacceptable in our nation and that our civic leaders have spent the past two decades doing little to systemically alter the circumstances that allows these realities to continue unabated, then the only possible response would be to march, to protest, to flood the offices of our elected leaders, to stand and be counted and be unmoved by the consequences of our actions until something, anything, changed. ”

(By Rev. Dr. Jamie McLeod)

Profiles in Leadership (iv)

Profiles in Leadership (iv)

(Photo from Rev. Erica Saunders)

“But when I’m having these bad days, the first place I go is to the fruits of the spirit passage in Galatians. What that means for me is an affirmation... an affirmation that wherever something is positive, wherever there’s love and joy and peace and patience and generosity... wherever those things are, God is there also. To really rest in the beauty of that, to express joy and to receive joy, to know that everything that increases my ability to love and be loved is a direct gift from God. I’m able to trust that God is present with me and working through those gifts in my life. ”

(Interview with Rev. Erica Saunders)

Rethinking King

Rethinking King

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“Throughout the course of his life he and his rhetoric elevated folks out of their seats even as his booming voice shook the nation out of its collective slumber and complacency. At this point there is very little left to debate about the shared cultural memory of King or his contributions to the moral arc of the universe. And then the David Garrow article was released and with it the whole edifice is now poised to collapse under the weight of these new accusations against the revered pastor and nationally honored African American leader.”

(By Rev. Dr. Jamie McLeod)

Profiles in Leadership (iii)

Profiles in Leadership (iii)

(Photo from Bojangles Blanchard)

“At some point, they asked me to please step out before they held the vote. Stepping out in the parking lot, I got emotional because for so long in my mind I could hear the voices of folks - especially my granddad - that told me that I’m an abomination because of my sexual identity and how should I never expect God to love me….But here I was, getting ordained, being affirmed by a Baptist congregation in my attempt to follow what I felt strongly was God’s calling.”

(Interview with Rev. Bojangles Blanchard)

Earth-Centered Spiritualities

Earth-Centered Spiritualities

(Photo by Matthew Smith)

“As I’ve studied and practiced, I’ve mostly learned experientially through years of sitting on muddy river banks, kayaking around ponds, photographing sunsets and hawks and eagles. Some days my practice has been as simple as putting my camera down to take a deep breath and appreciate the stillness or the sounds of nature, the rustling of leaves or the buzzing of bugs, the sticky humidity or the sweat that dripped down my back. I typically say a simple “thank you” or blessing to the earth for sharing with me its beauty and goodness.”

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

Litany for Religious Bigotry

Litany for Religious Bigotry

(Photo: Jewel Samad/Getty Images)

“We pray for this violence to end. We pray for the root causes of religious and racial bigotry to end. We pray for terrorism and the hate that fuels it to end. I have written many litanies about terrorism and war, and the fallout and grief that follow them. But today I’m offering this prayer and reflection, in hopes that they may find their way out into the world, to soften hearts, to open ears and minds, and to bring us all closer in to Love’s consciousness.“

(By Rev. Fran Pratt)

Litany for Re-Naming...

Litany for Re-Naming...

(Photo: Ryan Loughlin)

This liturgy is for people who wish to change their name to align with their gender identity and wish to make a public proclamation and receive support from a community. Functioning also as a reaffirmation of baptism, it should take place by the baptismal font with water. The presider may wish to use oil to anoint the head of the candidate.

(By Jess Cook)

The Empty T(W)omb

The Empty T(W)omb

(Photo by FreeStocks)

“The lived experiences of women have often been sidelined or silenced by the preachers and theologians of the Church, and relegated to spaces just for women...like beauty parlors and birthing centers. Why is this?

These are the thoughts I was pondering a couple of weeks ago….[a]nd then it came to me: If men can make sports analogies and tell Dad jokes in sermons, why can’t my postpartum experience be fodder for theological reflection?

(By Rev. Amelia Fulbright)

Profiles in Leadership (ii)

Profiles in Leadership (ii)

(Photo: Rev. Lacette Cross)

“The following is the second installment of our new interview series, “Profiles in Leadership.” In this edition, we’re featuring the work of Reverend Lacette Cross of Richmond, Virginia. For decades, Rev. Cross has worked around issues of sexual health, ethics, and HIV/AIDS education….She is currently the founder/CEO of Will You Be Whole ministries and the pastor of Restoration Fellowship RVA.”

(Interview with Rev. Lacette Cross)

A Promise Fulfilled

A Promise Fulfilled

(Photo by Eddie Stigson)

“The crucifiers are transformed by the crucified. Their hearts are changed, and because of that, our world is changed….For those of us who think we know how and when God speaks—let us be surprised when God is revealed in unexpected ways—like in the Roman centurion. For those of us who are weary of waiting, let us hope in the God whose Spirit gradually transforms our hearts, so that when we finally see, we can realize like the apostles— “were not our hearts burning?”

(By Rev. Kate Hanch)

The Ghost of God

The Ghost of God

(Photo by Rythik)

“Though this deity has long since died in my theological imagination, I’ve still yet to eradicate it from the deeper structures of my mind. While I wish it was possible to simply exchange one set of beliefs for another, I’ve come to question whether our minds work like that. Trauma doesn’t neatly or quietly subside due to the passage of time. Some things insist on haunting us.

In the following sections, I’ll describe what it was like growing up in a fundamentalist congregation in the South and what it’s been like on the other side of this “death of God” – how I tried to cope in mainline, liberal seminaries, and what I’ve learned along the way from my attempts to rid myself of this ghastly presence. “

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

Therapy is My Church

Therapy is My Church

(Photo: MindBodyStock)

“As a therapist, I believe my commission is to close the distance between myself and those who have been wounded – which is no different than how I understand the Christian commission.  As a therapist, I believe that my job is to listen well and ask good questions – which is no different than I understand how to be in relationship with anyone, client or otherwise.   When I find myself rejecting others (clients, friends, family members, politicians, people on Twitter), I try my best to understand what is being triggered in me and find a way to avoid treating them as an ‘other.’ “

(Dr. Devlyn McCreight)

The Restoration of Holy Week

The Restoration of Holy Week

(Photo by Tucker Tangeman)

“The week is meant to transform us as we come face-to-face with the week’s tragic end. And yet, we learn to bear this journey of adoration, betrayal, death, and silence. For despite all the pageantry and ceremony, Holy Week isn’t a time of celebration. Instead, it marks the despair, cruelty, and hardness of existence—an existence that Christ lived, experienced, and ultimately died in. Therefore, our journey from Sunday to Saturday is a cruel one. And it’s this cruelty that prepares us for the redemptive love of the Resurrection.”

(By Rev. Dr. Jonathan Best)

Profiles in Leadership (i)

Profiles in Leadership (i)

(Photo by Marc Boswell)

“The whole person is important, and if the whole person is hungry, then Christ calls us to meet that need. Isn’t that Matthew 25 [The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats]. "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.” I’ve very seldom heard that preached in this area, but it inspires me. It kind of scares me, to be honest. It’s accountability for us, right? What am I going to say when St. Peter asks me all of those questions? Where were you when I was hungry, or in prison, or without clothing, or sick?”

(Interview with Sr. Bernie Barrett)

MLK and Marxism

MLK and Marxism

(Photo: Michael Ochs Archive / Getty Images)

“The only way to beat a politics of identity is to offer a more compelling vision of what our identity ought to be.” Until Black people become a new people with a new identity, they will continue to be defined and identified by capitalists as the modern day proletariat—an expendable class of workers whom capitalists feel can easily be taken advantage of.”

(By Rev. Dr. Darvin Adams)

Unmasked

Unmasked

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“Masks allow us to pretend, to be someone or something other than who we are for a bit. The timid can be brave, in lion masks. The plain can put on feathers and flambouyance. The wise can be foolish. And the foolish…well…you know… Masks are all pretense, misdirection, fantasy. Masks are fun or spooky, glamorous or mysterious.

But friends. When masks become our daily uniform, when we hide the reality of our lives, our truest joys and our deepest anguishes, from the world--when we hide us from ourselves--then our masks will be our undoing.”

(By Leigh Anne Armstrong)

Mary, Joseph, and Appalachia

Mary, Joseph, and Appalachia

(Photo: Emma Frances Logan)

“Dayton, Tennessee, is a place where half the time you fuss about how Walmart took away business from the downtown stores with their dusty merchandise, and the rest of the time you’re grateful for the steady employment Walmart brings to your cousins who otherwise would never have found a real paying job within fifty miles of downtown. Dayton is a place where you can get stuck with your family’s reputation because everyone thinks that apples don’t fall far from the tree.”

(By Rev. Janet James)