BET Gospel Experience comes to LA LIVE June 28th

One thing we know about the members of West Angeles Church is that they love to lift up the name of Jesus.

Minister Jonathan Coleman of our music department extends an invitation for the saints of the greater Los Angeles area to come and support the BET Gospel EXPERIENCE, taking place on Saturday, June 28, at 7 p.m.

In a time where BET and other major broadcasting channels are taking a serious look at continuing to bring faith-based programs into our homes, it’s more important now than ever to show our support to those channels.

Saturday’s show will be hosted by Hezekiah Walker and performances include:

-West Angeles Mass Choir
-Faithful Central Bible Church Mass Choir
-City of Refuge’s Psalms
-Greater Zion’s Voices of Destiny
-Myesha Chaney from the Antioch Church of Long Beach

Let’s serve the industry notice that the people of FAITH can come together in lifting up the name of Jesus and have a great time.

This event is free and open to the public.

Grace is expensive, time consuming, but so worth it

I was born into a family of writers and historians.

I used to sit in on studio writing sessions and see royalty checks coming in.  I recall sitting at the foot of my grandmother’s bed and listening to stories of her being the first female music editor at the Hollywood Reporter.  My first job was writing for Smokey Robinson, and then I moved to a more journalistic approach to writing, interviewing celebrities ranging from Fred Hammond to Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé to Carmen Dellavaude.

I was born to write.

I understood sentence structure before I could properly ride a bike.  Emphasis heavy on nouns, verbs, syntax and diction. In turn, having such an intense understanding of the English language prior to coming into the knowledge of Christ made me understand His Living Word more. When I started reading the Bible, I was blown away how Jesus could shift physics and confront the Laws of Motion with a simple flick of the wrist. But what fascinated me most was that all of a sudden, nouns were reborn into verbs. One word typically used as a simple description could come alive and take flight all with the power of Christ.

So naturally, I took to heart scriptures like Proverbs 18:21, which reads “death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Ephesians 4:29, “ Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs…” Matthew 12:37 “For by your words we shall be justified and by your words you shall be condemned…”

There is something more to the natural and mechanical make up of our words and their supernatural ability to transform our lives and the lives of those around us. But what I couldn’t understand as easily as the scriptures above, because they all had an end game or a consequence, was Colossians 4:6, which reads, “Let your conversation be always full of grace.”

There’s that word: grace…what does that mean?

Grace is a word that many Christians hear and take comfort in, but do we really understand it? Grace, like love or even faith evokes a positive and passionate response without a literal and tangible shape. But grace is something entirely different. Grace is a gift that may inspire love and forgiveness. And because it is a gift, it cannot be earned, but only given and received.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace.” If our words are to be filled with grace, it demands we give a gift to others every time we speak, text, send an e-mail or write a post-it.

Grace is expensive. If we are to speak words full of grace it’ll cost us something. It’ll cost us to speak words that are beyond our agenda, our opinion and even what we think of ourselves.  Grace costs us to think futuristically. To see ourselves and other people the way God sees us in order to communicate in ways that can be revolutionary.

Grace takes discipline. We have to be focused on not spewing hate or words laced with venom because in essence, that is an assault on the heart of another person. This is not so easy when someone is accusing us of things. But should we be more focused on the truth being known or us being right?

Grace creates an active listener. When you really listen to the thoughts of someone, you are not thinking about your next response. You are engaging, nodding in acceptance and approval and not being selfish. Now, this does not mean that we cannot share our thoughts and opinions, but it means we will be able to grow more and connect with whom we are having a conversation with. The bonus feature to this is you will learn more about the person, which will create a better understanding and/or bond with each other.

Grace takes courage. This correlates with the discipline grace take. I am sure there have been a few times where the one at fault blames you. You know it and your accuser knows it. Or other times when someone is yelling so hard and so strong, cussing at you and making you think twice about your religion. But what would happen if, even in the moments when it feels like we are being attacked, we spoke words of grace, hope and forgiveness? That’s where real courage lies. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a hard word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

We have been given the power through the authority of Christ Jesus to heal the sick and move mountains if we needed to. Isn’t it amazing that one word of peace or a declaration for your day could help reshape your very life? To rise above we need to hold discipline and courage in one hand and faith and reason in the other hand.

With these tools you could be obedient to God, and unstoppable in this life. You can be the change we all hope to see. Shalom.

18th Annual Fishing Trip at L.A. Harbor

A fun filled day on the water at the 18th Annual Fishing Trip at L.A. Harbor. June 28th

Bishop Joe L. Ealy talks The Centennial Celebration

We had the honor of speaking with Bishop Joe L. Ealy, Prelate to our First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, and gather his thoughts regarding the upcoming Centennial Celebration. Sitting in the pews, within the walls of the North Campus Sanctuary, Bishop Ealy gave some insight into the week’s celebration of events from June 23- June 29.

As we are approaching our 100 year Celebration of our First Jurisdiction, what are you preparing for and ultimately, how would you describe it?

This is going to be a homecoming of the saints. Many, many years ago, we were all under one jurisdiction. I became acquainted with First Jurisdiction when I was a boy about nine years old and I remember everybody in Southern California being in one jurisdiction. And so we would see each other. As we began to divide jurisdictions, we began to see less and less of each other except at a funeral or a wedding. So, the Centennial Convocation is going to mean everyone comes back home.  We are preparing the Centennial as a homecoming of the saints of the Southern California area. But even beyond that, Northern California is joining us because way before my time, all of California was together.

Have the invitations been extended to only Southern California?

Oh, no. Not only are we excited about the Southern California, but also Northern California as well. Because many sons have moved, we have people from Arizona, people from Reno, and people from Las Vegas, people from everywhere are coming. So really it is going to be a mini National Convocation. What you would see in the National Convocation in St. Louis, we are hoping to see the same thing at West Angeles Church beginning June 23.

The homecoming celebration, would you say that is where the Centennial Convocation’s theme of Celebrating an excellent past and focusing on a Promising Future” came from? 

Yes, yes that is—

Ok, great. Would you mind explaining that a little further?

California has had an excellent past I believe, one that is above and beyond any other jurisdiction. I don’t think there is a jurisdiction in the United States or foreign that has had the kind of leadership that we have had. We have had giants! And when I say giants, that’s with a capital ‘G.’ When you look at the people who were in leadership in our jurisdiction, they were giants.

You believe this Convocation would be about paying tribute to those giants that have laid a foundation for our denomination?

I think our history is so important. It is said that if you do not know where you came from than you have no meaning as to where you are going. We are pausing to reflect and remember those people of the past upon whose shoulders we now stand. Based on the past that we have had we are looking forward and expecting an even greater future.

God is raising up great men and women in the church community today that are going to take the church to greater heights than it has been in the past.

Amen. Bishop Ealy, in your opinion, what is one basic understanding about our history as a denomination that a new member should know?

One must read or hear something about the books of Acts that’s where the Pentecostal movement began. Matter of fact, that’s where the church really began. And the Book of Acts really focuses on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And that is what the Church of God in Christ is all about. We have been a leader; we have been a pioneer in the field of Pentecostalism and teaching people about receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Prior to Bishop Mason’s time, Christian’s believed that the gift of the Holy Spirit was for a selected few groups of people. With Bishop Mason coming and receiving the Holy Ghost, the message became that the Holy Spirit is for each and every believer and so he began to teach that.

And that’s what the Churches of God in Christ is really all about. That every believer should be a spirit filled and Holy Ghost baptized believer. That is our contribution to Christianity because the Holy Spirit empowers the believer to live an overcoming life and if the person does not have that empowering spirit and ability, so often they lead defeated lives.

What are you hoping people receive from this Convocation?

I am hoping that definitely the people of West Angeles and people at large would be blessed people would be encourages, edified, and that-of course people would be saved and lives would be changed.

Yes, thank you, Bishop. Is there a particular service you are most looking forward to?

Each service is special because we are highlighting the Bishops who have served the jurisdiction in the past. So we are going to portray each Bishop or Supervisor who have served since 1907. Each night is going to be different, but of course the highlight is Sunday afternoon when our Presiding Bishop ministers to us. Thursday, Mother Rivers is going to share the word of the Lord with all our ladies and the men will be supporting them.

If you could give us some insight, for those that are attending, what should we expect on Saturday at the Gateway Sheraton?

Yes, we are having a luncheon at the Sheraton on June 28. We are going to be featuring the various saints in leadership of the past. We are going to be honoring a legend in Gospel music, Andre Crouch and Sandra, and it is going to be a most wonderful celebration. The children and the grandchildren of the Bishops are going to be there to talk about their fathers and/or their grandfathers who were the pioneers of our Church.

Amen. If there is anything I have not asked you, would you like to take this opportunity to share what’s on your heart?

This Centennial Celebration is one of a kind. None of us will be here 100 years from now, and if you miss this one, you would have missed the convocation of a lifetime.

We are asking everyone to come, be involved, worship and know you are a part of history.

What an excellent invitation. We know you are very busy getting ready for the Convocation, so we thank you for your time.

You are very welcome. It was my pleasure.

Southern California First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction is hosting the Centennial Celebration of the Churches of God in Christ in the state of California (1914 – 2014).  The celebration beginMonday, June 23 – Sunday, June 29.   There will be nightly services featuring outstanding guest bishops of jurisdiction from the entire state of California – Bishop Jerry Macklin (2nd Assistant to the Presiding Bishop), Bishop George D. Mckinney (General Board Member), Bishop J. B. Hackworth, Bishop R.E. Watts, and Bishop C.E. Milton, Bishop Joe Ealy. Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake is the Official Day speaker. 

The Centennial Celebration

Southern California First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction is hosting the Centennial Celebration of the Churches of God in Christ in the state of California (1914 – 2014). The celebration begins Monday, June 23 – Sunday, June 29.

There will be nightly services featuring outstanding guest bishops of jurisdiction from the entire state of California – Bishop Jerry Macklin (2nd Assistant to the Presiding Bishop), Bishop George D. Mckinney (General Board Member), Bishop J. B. Hackworth, Bishop R.E. Watts, and Bisihop C.E. Milton, Bishop Joe Ealy. Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake is the Official Day speaker.

A special Centennial Celebration Luncheon takes place at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel on Saturday, June 28th at 11:00 a.m. Tickets may be purchased at the Bookstore on the Concourse following service or from the Office of the Pastor during the week.

Come on out EVERYONE and join in the celebration with us.

1st Annual Boys-to-Men Symposium

The 1st Annual Boys-to-Men Symposium, where our young men can fellowship with and learn from the Men of West Angeles, Saturday, June 21st at 11:00am in the Crystal Room

From a son’s eyes

I inadvertently played a trick on my dad this week.

With Father’s Day approaching, out of curiosity, I send him a text that catches him a bit off guard.

“What’s the hardest thing about being a dad?”

His response, obviously, is concern.

“Are you becoming one???”

I get a laugh out of it, and once I told him that it is for a piece I am writing, he gets a laugh out of it, too.

But jokes aside, my dad, Wilbert, begins to bless me with nuggets about fatherhood that seem like common knowledge, but somehow become realer once he verbalizes them.

The first thought he shares is this: “As a father, we feel responsible for everything our family does, bad and good.”

Fathers are proud, and that doesn’t exclude my father. He’s one of those dads that will tell a stranger about the successes of his children, which includes myself and my two brothers, and his grandchildren, of which he has four in total.

I had the opportunity to serve as the student speaker at my college graduation in 2011 and that currently tops the list of his favorite stories to tell about me. It’s embarrassing for me to hear, but I know it serves the sole purpose of letting others know how proud he is of the son he raised.

The second tidbit he gives me is a bit deeper than just how to be a proud parent.

“You care about your kid’s future, and deep down, you hope they’re great. Really great. However, you know and accept that they might not be. You have to accept it. You have no choice. But you never give up on your kids, because you know you’re the last support they have.”

This one takes me for a loop.

As a child, especially being the youngest, I rarely analyzed the pressures of being a father outside of providing for your family financially. There are greater worries than money and financial stability for a father, and one of them is the idea that no matter how much you give your kid, no matter how great the private school you send them to, no matter how nice your house, there is a chance that those advantages won’t reflect in who they become long-term.

And as a parent, it’s at that point where you must decide to be disappointed in your child or accept the path they have chosen.

Growing up, I played basketball. It was my father’s dream for me make it to the NBA, the same dream shared by millions of fathers.

I played every weekend of every summer. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have a tournament or a practice with my high school team or a training session with one of my coaches. However, consequently, that same intense schedule that made me a better player took a toll on me mentally, and after high school, with scholarship offers in hand, I decided to give up playing the game.

For years, my dad blamed himself for my decision to quit playing. He thought he pushed me too hard, and to a degree, he was right. But fact is, I didn’t love the game the way he did. Part of the reason I played was just to make him happy.

The same way he wanted to be proud of me, and was proud of me, I wanted him to be proud of me.

To this day, I’m sure he still wonders what he could have done better. Every now and then, less frequently with each passing year, he’ll go on a tangent about how good I was and what type of NBA player I would have been. My mom tells me he still watches my old tapes from high school. However, with every fiber in his body, he pushed himself move on from the game along with me, and today, he is my biggest supporter in everything I do.

That means something to me.

The third point he makes to me is one of those obvious but not-so-obvious ones.

“Dads are sounding boards. Kids learn from what they did or didn’t do.”

My dad isn’t perfect. He is the most stubborn person I know, and I know that to be a fact because he will argue with me when I tell him so. He and my mom have been together for over 40 years, and they aren’t always on the same page, let alone in the same book.

But my dad has always been there. He’s been there physically and psychologically, and that’s the greatest “did do” that I could have asked for.

I have friends whose fathers weren’t around, and it kills me to know that they had to grow up through that, to the point where I don’t like to bring up how influential my father was in my upbringing because it is something that they weren’t able to experience.

And that brings me to the last point he gives me.

“You have to give your kids the feeling that you will give your life for them.”

This feeling doesn’t just translate to a child because you’re their parent. No, it’s something you have to prove to your kid. And to count the ways my dad proved it to me would take days.

My dad was so strong that he raised another dad for me in my brother, Julio, who is 13 years my senior.

Julio was so responsible and respectable growing up that I feared getting in trouble with him as much as I did with our father, and most of that came from the lessons bestowed upon him on how to be a man by our dad. My dad told Julio what he had to do, such as get a job when he was around 15, and Julio also learned from the mistakes that my father made as a dad.

Now, Julio has three children with his wife, and I would die for every one of them.

In the end, what’s most remarkable about my dad is that he came from nothing. His father wasn’t around. His mother, barely. He came from a small town Louisiana, and created a life for himself and his family, with nothing but a hope and a prayer.

So I’ve decided that this Father’s Day, my gift to him will be a thank you. Not in the form of a card. Not in the form of a gift, some type of power tool he can use around the house.

I’ll walk up to him and say thank you.

I don’t think any other gift could mean as much.

Obama, Manhood, and “Dreams From My Father”- Part I

How does a Black boy without a father grow up to be the most powerful man on the planet?  The answer may surprise you.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the paperback release of “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” the autobiography originally published in 1995 by a then-unknown political hopeful named Barack Obama. By 2004, when the paperback edition was published, America had just taken notice of this uber-intelligent man of the world – then a senator from Illinois – after he’d given a historic keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.  

Fast-forward 10 years to 2014 and Barack Hussein Obama is in his second term as the 44th President of the United State. However, studies show* that the state of the African American male as a whole has remained a cause for concern:

  • 53% of black men aged 25-34 are either unemployed or earn too little to lift a family of four from poverty

  • At comparable educational levels, black men earn 67% of what White men earn

  • The chance of going to prison is highest among black males (32.2%)

  • 1.4 million black men out of a total voting population of 10.4 million have lost their right to vote due to felony convictions

  • Black men are 30% more likely to suffer a heart attack, and 60% more likely to suffer a stroke

And as scores of well-meaning non-profits develop program after program which attempt to help black men regain their footing in America, I remember President Obama’s autobiography which kept me engaged and inspired just 10 years before. I can’t help but wonder:

“Has anyone actually studied the life of our first African American President: leader of the Free World; the most powerful man on the planet today?  What practices,  beliefs, and ideals does he value, which could also serve as a road map to help uplift other African American men, and in turn, America as a nation?  What molded this man into one who would go where most believed an African American man never would?”

Below is a list of 11 principles revealed in “Dreams From My Father” which have made our President the man he is today; principles which have always been the cornerstone of the African American journey, and which uphold the American principles our nation was founded on:

1. Make God first in your life. We’ve already been told this by parents and grandparents, but guess what? Our president actually believes this, too. President Obama was raised by his mother, who was raised in a strong Christian household. And when it was time for him to choose the faith which would carry him into his own adult years –  in spite of the many cultures, faiths, and ideas he’d been exposed to throughout his childhood – he chose to follow Christ. His understanding of the biblical principles of faith, hope and love are a reflection of the moral and spiritual codes which govern his work and his life. Research shows that the strongest cultures are those with a central faith at its core; it’s faith through which all other aspects of a society flow. America, when at its best, from its inception and from the establishment of the Declaration of Independence, to the abolition of slavery and the passing of The Civil Rights Amendment, has risen beyond its greatest challenges by adhering to principles rooted in The Bible.

2. Correct your flaws. I saw a consistent theme throughout his book: Obama repents. Self-examination is always his response to pain, which then leads to purging and healing. He is also very determined and focused, and also always examines his own heart upon realizing he’s hurt others. Even his journey to Kenya to find his father ultimately lead to finding himself. The fundamental principle of the American Dream is the ability to become, through hard work and perseverance, the best we were created to be, and that starts with soul-searching and repentance.  

3. Get an education.  His paternal grandfather learned a trade through apprenticeship; his father used the opportunity of obtaining an American ivy-league education as a means of escaping an oppressive life in Kenya, pursuing a desire to be the man he knew he could be. A young Barack Obama attended Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School, but even the education he received from the village elders in Africa was just as instrumental to his ability to grow and to develop into a man. See education not as a destination, but as a way of life, a quality he learned from his maternal grandfather. Be a lifelong learner; be teachable.  

3. Know your history. His Mother knew that neither she nor the schools he attended could provide her son with the solid foundation he’d need to grow into a strong black man. As a result, she woke him up each day before school to supplement his education by plying him with African history lessons and other subjects. As a result, he developed a desire to learn his own personal history through books and through his father’s people in Kenya.

4. Use your gifts and skills. Civil Rights attorney, orator, and writer; Obama developed and used his gifts for the greater good, always driven to answer the unseen moral question. Making the most of your talents and “working with your hands” is the key to survival and prosperity in life. It’s why we’ve been blessed with the skills we have.

5.  Do for others. Give back to the less fortunate; to important causes, to family, community, mankind. President Obama was driven to make the world a better place; becoming a community organizer and lawyer for the people, heeding and answering a greater call on each leg of his journey. Doing for others in love engages the spirit and makes you stronger, and it’s what we were biologically created to do.

6. Travel. It increases your view of the world and your place in it. Through travel, you gain a unique view of the world outside your community, your state, your country, and it changes your perspective on life.  If you can, take the opportunity to live in a place other than that of where you were born. Before settling in Chicago, President Obama traveled to or lived in communities in New York, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Indonesia, Europe and Africa, giving him a unique, global view of our world, our country, our needs and our strengths.

7. Cultivate brotherhood with other strong, Godly men. Early in his life, President Obama was introduced to strong African American men who were his grandfather’s friends, and later in life he sought out his own nurturing relationships. The security and wisdom provided by these bonds are established within our friendships and our churches, but are also found in relationships created through mentors, fraternities and civic organizations. Bonds with other men can strengthen your personal community, “extending your village” and knowledge base beyond family ties.

8. Get married and stay married. Be husband to one wife.  Marriage multiplies you, not just by the number of children you produce, but also mentally, physically, emotionally, economically and spiritually. Studies show that married men live longer, and the majority of health-conscious men are married, too.

9. Cultivate fatherhood. President Obama did not have his father physically in his life, but he diligently sought the meaning of manhood and fatherhood through those who knew his dad, and also through the wisdom of other strong men in his life.  Seeking inspiration and guidance  is also essential to being a good father.  Accepting the sacrifices fatherhood requires is part of being a strong man.

10.  Accept your mantle. By chapter 14, Barack Obama had established himself within the Chicago grassroots political community. He also  sensed that in order to make real change, he would have to further his education. At that moment, three events supernaturally converged: he was accepted to Harvard Law School, he found his church home, and beloved Chicago Mayor Harold Washington passed away, a man who, at the time, many dared to dream that he could be our first African American president.

11. Live for your purpose. When you pursue your purpose in life, commit your purpose to a higher authority. Barack Obama finished the Harvard education that his father did not, and became the embodiment not only of his father’s dreams, but also the dreams of a nation.

When African American men rise to the challenge God has set before them as the cornerstone of this nation, only then will America rise up to its full potential too. To quote our president from that now-historic 2004 speech:

“In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead…I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs, and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us…and this country will reclaim its promise.”

PART I of a two-part series. Check Westa.org for Part II, which will focus on fatherhood and raising strong black boys.

See the historic 2004 Democratic Convention Speech below:

DID YOU KNOW?

Many institutions of higher learning now offer free classes online. Known as “Open Course Ware” (OCW), the classes are offered at schools around the world.  See the links below to find schools and courses of study:

https://www.coursera.org/

http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses

 

Our thanks:

“Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” by Barack Obama.  Copyright, 1995, 2004, Barack Obama. Originally published in hard cover in 1995 by Times Books, and imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Subsequently published in paperback, with preface and keynote address, in 2004 by Three Rivers Press, also and imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

Photos, courtesy of Pete Souza. Video, courtesy of C-Span.

*Statistics and references, courtesy Whitehouse.gov, the US Census bureau, the Economic Policy Institute, Harvard.edu., abcnews.go.com., The Black Star Project.

“Why Adultery and Fornication are Wrong” Bishop Charles E. Blake

“Why Adultery and Fornication are Wrong” Bishop Charles E. Blake

No one dies and no one gets sick from sexual deprivation. You can live all your life
or a great part of your life without sex.

We are designed physically for sexual involvement and reproduction however, some
people act like that is the only thing we are designed for. Bishop Charles E. Blake
promises, “there is infinity more to life than just our sexual nature.”

Learn how to be strong and wait on who God calls you to be with for only $1.99.