Several years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a racial relations seminar with Inter-Church Ministries. At this time, I was the Senior Pastor of Saint James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Erie, Pennsylvania. The composition of the group was not very diverse because out of 50-60 participants, only four of us were black.
In one of the breakout sessions, one of the white participants asked me, “Don’t you think it is time to stop having black churches and black colleges?” She and some of the others in our group seemed surprised when I answered, “No.” When she asked, “why?” I stated, “…This country has a history when it comes to ‘racial reconciliation’ of using assimilation instead of integration. The contributions of the Black Church and institutions of higher education are too significant to be forgotten.”
As we pause to remember the genesis of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, we have many things to be thankful for. The relationship that African Americans have with God in the United States has a unique perspective to offer to the broader Christian Church. Overcoming the cruel realities of slavery, sharecropping, and segregation has given us a different kind of understanding of God’s moral attributes of grace and mercy. God’s saving grace continues to bless us with new opportunities and advancements. Some challenges remain ahead of us, but the scripture reminds us,
“But, as it is written… No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love HIM”1 Corinthians 2:9, NRSV
Happy Founder’s Day.