,

Dr. Judith McAllister: We Shall Overcome

We Shall Overcome:

-From “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, the Negro National Anthem, by  James Weldon Johnson.

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.

 

 

(Please click the images below to enlarge the slideshow).

OUR HISTORY is resplendent with examples of ancestral strength, unimaginable faith, and a powerful vision of a day.  They are similar to the one in which we now live.  This is where we, as a people, would be able to freely worship in a beautiful Cathedrals such as this.  

Our forefathers and mothers; the unbearable pain they shouldered, the profound injustice they endured. They sacrificed their lives, their energy and great strength to overcome: and yet we are overcoming.

Now, we, as a people, must stand in unity, with the holy resolve to keep fighting, keep marching, and keep succeeding until we have indeed overcome.  

We literally come from kings and queens: Mansa Musa, Nzingha, Shaka Zulu, the Queen of Sheba – royal stock who, when bowed and broken, possessed a resiliency and an impenetrable determination to move beyond the hardship, to reach beyond the injustice, and to push past the dark veil of hopelessness to the promise of better day.   

We have overcome, yet we are overcoming – and that same thread runs within each of us. As a race, we must be resilient and dig deeper. We may bend, but we will not break!

 We have overcome, yet we are overcoming – for we must know that our true greatness lies not only in our ability to withstand oppression and survive, but also in our ability to hope, to trust, and to put our future in the hands of our Eternal God. He is strong to save. He who knows every detail of our victorious future. And it is within Him that true greatness lies!

 

A father leads his 2 sons through the streets of Harlem after Sunday service. Photo, Martine Barrat/In Our Own Image.

A grandfather leads his 2 grandsons through the streets of Harlem after Sunday service. Photo, Martine Barrat/In Our Own Image.

 

We have overcome, but yet we are overcoming – for we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the words of our testimony. Through the storm, through the strain, through hardship, through pain, we have overcome, and we yet, are overcoming.

In conclusion, let your words today be filled with life, hope, and strength. Share with someone the testimony of what you have been through, so that they will know that if you made it through, they can too!

For together-

We shall overcome

We shall overcome

We shall overcome some day.

Oh, deep in my heart

I do believe

We shall overcome someday.

 

Hear Dr. Judith  McAllister and the West Angeles Mass Choir perform “We Shall Overcome” below: 

 

“We Shall Overcome” – Lyrics derived from “I’ll Overcome Some Day”, Charles A. Tindley, 1900.

Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Negro National Anthem, by  James Weldon Johnson, 1899; music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson.


Dr. Judith McAllister, COGIC's International Minister of Music.

Often referred to as “The First Lady of Praise and Worship,” Dr. Judith Christie McAllister is probably best known for her impact as one of the forerunners of the Praise and Worship movement in the African American Church. Having served as Worship Leader at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ under Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., as the church’s Executive Director of the Music and Worship Arts Department, and also as Minister of Music/President of COGIC’s International Music Department, she developed a style and approach to Praise & Worship earning her accolades from coast to coast. A wife, mother, author, prolific Bible teacher, prophetic psalmist and a Grammy Award nominee, Dr. McAlister is the CEO of three entities which enable her to mentor, train and empower the next generation in the ministry of music. Judah Music Group LLC,  Inheritance of Judah Ministries and Never Ending Worship (N.E.W.) Enterprises LLC, provide the foundation for all of her workshops, seminars, ministry services and products.

,

Elder Charles Blake II on the Importance of the Black Church

As a part of our Elder’s Corner series, Elder Charles Edward Blake II took time to reflect on the history and importance of the black church. 

Elder Charles Blake II on the Importance of the Black Church

The old West Angeles Church at 3501 West Adams Boulevard, c. 1960’s.

“Over the course of centuries, black churches served as “hush harbors” where slaves could worship in safety, praise houses where their free descendants could gather and shout hallelujah. (They were) rest stops for the weary along the Underground Railroad, bunkers for the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement. They have been, and continue to be, community centers where we organize for jobs and justice, places of scholarship and network, places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harm’s way, and told that they are beautiful and smart and taught that they matter. That’s what happens in church” – President Barack Obama, in the eulogy for Clementa C. Pinckney, Pastor of Emmanuel AME Church.

As I listened to our President deliver this historic, heartfelt speech, I was especially drawn to his comments on the historical significance of the black church in American history. I have believed that the black church is as our president described: the beating heart of the black community. The first African American schools, hospitals, farming co-ops, workers unions, and many more aspects of our community, came out of the black church. After the Civil War and slavery had ended, the church was the only institution the black community had to protect our civil rights during Reconstruction.

Years later, however, after the Civil Rights Era, other secular African-American organizations did our civil rights work for us. Today, it would now seem that many of the rights that we gained during that time have either slowly eroded, or have not been realized at all by our community.

“The Black church is as our President described: the beating heart of the black community.” – Elder Charles E. Blake, Jr.

In light of what the church has been to our community in the past, we must continue to question: “Who are we as the church in the present?”

Impacting Our Future

As the church, we have the power to impact nations and transform cities. Yet many of us have not allowed ourselves to be transformed by the Gospel into something new that God can use to help someone else. We praise his name and the Spirit of the Lord is here…there’s no doubt about it! But while this Word, this truth, this gospel is widely believed and agreed upon and we praise the Lord for it, it is a truth we widely take for granted. We have to really ask ourselves: “Is the world a better place because we are in it? Is this a better church because I’m a part of it?”

We are called not only to worship Christ, but also to truly follow him. So, how do we do that? Mark 10:43-45 says:

43 “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

We have to remember beloved, that as members of the body of Christ, we have all been called as missionaries, evangelists, and ministers (Ephesians 4:11). We are here to follow Jesus’ example, to serve even those who we may feel don’t deserve it, in order to be a light to others. The church must be a better church because we are a part of it. The world must be a better place because we are in it.

Like the apostles themselves, we don’t deserve what Christ did for us when He died on the cross. But when we serve others and live our lives with integrity, God can look at our lives as an investment and pour out His blessings. We then honor the price that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ paid for us, and we begin to do our part to become the church He created us to be.

 

Elder Charles Edward Blake II serves as Assistant Pastor and Director of Community Relations of West Angeles Church of God In Christ, under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. He received his BS in Marketing from Oral Roberts University, and studied for his MD at the Interdenominational Theological Center. Elder Blake also serves as the General Manager of the Los Angeles Ecumenical Congress.  He and wife DeAndra are the proud parents of two sons. 

Pay your pledge online!  To donate to the West Angeles FAMILY LIFE CAMPAIGN, please click HERE.
,

Dr. Tonya Lewis: Are You Stable and Secure?

To be stable means “to be constant, firm, unchanging, unwavering and established.” To be secure means “to be, safe, protected and sheltered.” Being stable and unwavering in our decisions and actions determines our level of security. But how do you make your decisions and live your life? Can what you say be trusted and reliable because your answers and actions are known to be stable? Or are you liable to “flip-flop” in what you say and do?  

Just as we desire that others be stable in their dealings with us, our Heavenly Father desires us to be stable in our interaction with Him- constant, firm, unchanging, unwavering and established –  so that we can experience the fullness and richness of a relationship with Him. Hebrews 3:6(NIV) says,

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are His house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.  

Unshakable faith in Jesus Christ secures our residence in the “Household of God.” When we are members of God’s household, we reap the benefits of being family members. But in order to securely establish our relationship with God, it is important that we read His Word on a daily basis.

 

The Power in the Unmovable Word of God

In order to experience a flourishing relationship with Jesus Christ, we must totally adhere to God’s Word.

Jesus gives us direction for establishing biblestable and secure lives in Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV):

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Jesus is the Rock we must build our lives upon. He even identifies as wise and stable those persons who not only hear His Word, but also put it into action. On a daily basis we must be constant, firm and unwavering in our decision to be submissive to Jesus. His Word will govern our conduct, our words, and our interactions with Him and with others. Any guidance that the Word of God gives us is not for His benefit, but for our own. Through daily unwavering faith in Jesus Christ, God unleashes unimaginable and overwhelming blessings into our lives!

 

The Benefits of Unwavering Faith

If we are unwavering in our faith, and  committed to our relationship with and obedience to the Lord, our Rock, then:

  • when the trials of life come, we are automatically guaranteed security in our relationship with Him.
  • when the waters of sorrow, depression or temptation flood in to overtake us and to collapse or destroy our faith in Him, we will remain stable.
  • where the foolish hear God’s Word and ignore it, we instead become wise.  
  • when the mindset and ways of the world dominate all around us, we unleash the power of God’s Word, and remain unmovable.

Yes, this word is for each of us, whether we’ve had a long-term relationship with Jesus Christ or we’ve only recently been saved. Listen to the Holy Spirit of God, for He does speak to us each day to lead and guide us into all truth and righteousness. With His help, we are assured to remain wise and not drift into foolishness.

So continue to be stable; the light of Jesus’ Word: and secure the rich blessings of fellowship with Him. God bless.  


Hear the Alambama A&M Gospel Choir sing, “On Christ The Solid Rock” below: