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GET INVOLVED: The COGIC Urban Initiatives

Dear West Angeles Family,

We are blessed with infinitely greater opportunities than Black people anywhere on the face of the earth. But we are blessed that we might reach out to those less fortunate, and to lift them and help them. We cannot be satisfied to be in a community that’s blessed and prosperous until we reach out and Bless everyone in that community.

I pray that, in this season, every one of us will stand upon our watch, and that we’ll go to God and pray:

‘God, I just don’t want to stand by. I want to have a positive impact on life on earth; I want to have appositive impact on my children, on my family, on my community. God, show me what you would have me to do show me what direction you would have me to go.’

As Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, I’ve asked every one of our 12,000 churches across the world to incorporate into their operations 5 areas of emphasis. We call this the Church Of God In Christ Urban Initiatives.

Get Involved: The COGIC Urban Initiatives include progressive programs for youth and young adults.

The 5 areas are:
1. Education – Includes mentoring, tutoring, and Christian education.
2. Economic Development – We offer job training, employment counseling and assistance, and entrepreneurship programs.
3. Crime Prevention – We’ve developed alternative programs to proactively keep young people out of crime,

and to create collaborative relationships with law enforcement.
4. Family – We’ve created programs to strengthen the family with a special emphasis on the role of fathers.
5. Financial Literacy – Includes programs for both young people and adults.

Some of the best leaders in our denomination have been assigned to lead the success of these programs across the nation. If every church has these five areas at work, there will be 60,000 programs in inner city America impacting our nation, impacting our communities, impacting the cities of our nation. West Angeles Church Of God In Christ has all 5 of these areas well covered, and we must expand even more.

We are Blessed to be a Blessing.  We need your gifts, your skills, and your involvement, and we look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.
Presiding Bishop
Church of God in Christ, Inc.

 

GET INVOLVED WITH WEST ANGELES

  • For financial literacy, economic development, and community assistance programs, PLEASE CONTACT: The West Angeles Community Development Corporation at (323) 751-3440. Please click HERE for more information. http://www.westangelescdc.org/
  • For more on our family and personal development programs, PLEASE CONTACT: The West Angeles Counseling Center at (323) 737-7463 or (323) 733-8300×2360, [email protected] http://westa.org/counseling-2/
  • For our “Manhood 2 Fatherhood” sessions, please contact The West Angeles Counseling Center at (323) 737-7463. Please click HERE for more information. http://westa.org/portfolio/manhood-to-fatherhood/
  • For The Brotherhood Organization, please contact (323) 733-8300 http://westa.org/the-brotherhood/
  • For more information on our adult and youth Christian Education Classes including The School of Practical Christian Living, Sunday School, and the West Angeles Bible College, please call (323) 733-8300.
  • For college prep and Education Enrichment contact Deacon John Wilson at (323) 733-8300 x2628, 2629 [email protected] [email protected] http://westa.org/education-enrichment/
  • For Mentoring information, please contact Minister Sam Ransom, email [email protected] or call 323-733-8300 x2629.
  • For West Angeles COGIC Ministries and Auxiliaries – For more information on all of West Angeles’ ministries and auxiliaries, including our Skid Row Ministry, the Prison Ministry and many others, please call 323 733-8300, or CLICK HERE for a complete list. http://westa.org/ministries-departments/

THE COGIC URBAN INITIATIVES: “Building healthy individuals, families, and communities for a successful future.”

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COGIC URBAN INITIATIVES IN ACTION – Please CLICK HERE to watch an inspiring conversation between our Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. and Operation Hope CEO and Founder John Hope Bryant, where they discuss a new COGIC partnership, the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, and the power of financial literacy for the underserved.

Bishop Darrell Hines Delivers Message of Faith For Men’s Day

West Angeles was blessed once again to have Bishop Darrell Hines deliver the Word, this time for the annual Mens’ Day celebration on Sunday, October 19.

Bishop Hines is pastor of Christian Faith Fellowship in Milwaukee, WI, and heads the Brotherhood Organization of the Church of God In Christ worldwide. Bishop Charles E. Blake made the introduction of the day by telling of Bishop Hines’ miraculous personal testimony of surviving a lightning strike in 1981 while working at his former job with Republic Airlines. After being pronounced dead – then miraculously revived by prayer over 45 minutes later – he beat diagnoses of brain damage, amnesia, and physical incapacitation to go on to accept God’s call to ministry.

A Stellar Award-nominated gospel singer and psalmist, Bishop Hines opened with a hymn, “You Brought Me From A Mighty Long Way,” backed by the West Angeles men’s choir, “Sons of Thunder.” His rousing, poignant, and sometimes humorous sermon was entitled “When A Man’s Faith Meets his Fate.” In it, he ministered from passages in Hebrews 11 (v. 36-40) which he said pastors rarely use because of their seemingly dismal outlook for Christians. But the message served to remind men (and all listeners) of the power of enduring faith.

Here are some of our favorite quotes from his sermon:

“Without faith, it is impossible for us to please God.”

“We have the word of God, we believe what it says, and we look forward to the results of what we believe God for.”

“Not everyone embraces scripture the same as someone else.”

“I don’t think that faith is given in smaller or greater measures; I think that when we get the Word of God, we have the measure of faith. Everything that we are, everything that God has required of us, and everything that He has promised is right here.”

“They that come to God must believe that He is God; that He is a rewarder of them that diligently or persistently seek after Him.”

“It would seem as though, my brothers, that the ones who did great fantastic feats would be mentioned (in the Bible), and then those …who did not accomplish what they believed God for wouldn’t even be considered; but they’re here for a reason – it brings you the other side of faith.”

“What happens to the faithful brother? What happens to the faithful person, when we ask God for something, and we don’t get what we ask for?”

“Y’all sittin’ up here looking all saved and deep and carryin’ on, but I know I’m not the only one in here who thought it would have happened by now, looked for it to come to pass, and it did not!”

“You must understand that faith does not always change reality.”

“Sin could not be redeemed except for sacrifice.”

“Jesus ‘manned-up’ for what He had to do because He couldn’t change what was in His future.”

“Jesus did not avoid the cross, but what He did is, He showed us how to handle a cross. Everybody in here is going to have a cross at some point in your life.”

“Christians need to understand that just because you have faith, it doesn’t mean that everything is going to be the way you want it to be.”

“Faith does not give you a free pass through life.”

“I am a little disturbed by what I see happening in church. We almost play God like a lottery; or like some kind of magic. We think that we can rub two scriptures together, say ‘I have faith’, and Poof! You see everything that you want!”

“Something has happened to the faith community. We want everything to be sunshine; we want God to move like we want Him to move and when He doesn’t, we take our hat and coat and go home…It seems as if we become so fickle and so flaky in our faith until we can’t take anything. But faith says that whatever happens, God is still my God.”

“That’s what faith does for the believer: it can’t tell you all the things life is gonna throw at you; I don’t know all the things that’s coming your way, but if you have faith in God I promise you that faith will contort you and move you and position you so that when you finally land, (you will land on your feet).”

“Faith won’t bring you everything you want in life, but faith will get you through everything that life brings.”

Bishop Hines delivered all three sermons on Sunday, concluding the 2014 Brotherhood Weekend of events for the men of West Angeles.

 

Member Testimony: Elder Edward & Cozette Bradley

Marriages, especially in today’s world, are subject to many challenges.

Our society seems to offer more hindrances to true love and lasting fidelity than it does support. Add the role of parent to the equation – of not one, but three African American young men – and you might expect an especially challenging situation.

Married for 34 years, Elder Edward Bradley and his wife Cozette are long-time  West Angeles members who’ve gracefully raised three wonderful sons. They’ve been involved in several ministries, including Connections To Care, and the Fatherhood class at the West Angeles Counseling Center.  Elder Bradley’s book, “Fatherhood: The Role of a Father” (Tate Publishing) explores what it’s like to be a man in today’s society where balancing the roles of provider, protector, and head-of-the-household can be difficult, to say the least. He explores reconciling manhood and fatherhood from a biblical perspective, while challenging men to become all that God has asked them to be.

Elder and Mrs. Bradley recently shared with us some of their wisdom, insights, and a funny story or two about maintaining a strong marriage and raising sons into strong men in a new millennium.

Q: Elder and Mrs. Bradley, thank you for sharing your story with us. How did you meet, and how long have you been married?

We were both born in California. We met on June 1st, 1980, on a Sunday afternoon at West Angeles Church of God in Christ. We were married five months later on November 22, 1980.

Q: Wow-a whirlwind romance! Through Him, anything is still possible. We’ve all heard it said that “Marriage is work.” As a wife myself, I do find that to be true – but not necessarily in the way society describes. Can you please share a challenge that you have overcome as a couple, which you transcended and became stronger because of it?

There are books on marriage, but every couple has a different makeup. Learn to work on your strengths and determine what will enhance the relationship. We really did not have any problems coming together. Yes, we had to work on logistics; moving my wife from another city to Los Angeles. We then worked on our finances. But overall it was pleasantly smooth. We were – and are – very happy; that took care of a lot of problems that may have derailed another couple. We made plans for our marriage; and yes, we made mistakes. But through it all, we trusted in the Lord. For our marriage, going to mid-week bible study (at West Angeles) was key. We learned so much as Pastor Blake (as he was known back then) ministered to the congregation. Both Sunday morning and evening services were excellent, but those services in the middle of the week handled life’s issues that may have tested us between Sundays.

Q: Elder Bradley, you’ve written a book on parenting, and you’ve been successful at raising three African American boys into men. Looking at today’s world and the challenges we face, what tips can you share that may help other parents who are struggling to keep their children on the right path?

In parenting, we must live what we preach. Parents should not live a double life at home; another at church, and another out in public places. Your children lose respect for you. Parents, be a person of your word; be “on one accord.” And do not be afraid to discipline your children. “Yes” is yes and “no” is no! Show them love and affection, and tell them you love them, even if you never heard it from your own parents. Teach them the word of God at home. Come to church together and sit as a family.

Q: Has purpose factored into the work you’ve been chosen to do? If so, how?

I was a Correctional Officer. I worked behind prison walls. Seeing people incarcerated and seeing that side of existence gives you another perspective on life. You determine through prayer and hard work at home not to see your children caught up in any negative lifestyle that the world is offering through outside influences. You educate them and other young people on the vices that would pull them down. We must lift them up continually! That is what helped me make the decision on how to raise our family. Also, being married since 1980, we have seen many couples go astray. But couples need to know that Jesus can keep them happy, elated, and satisfied with their own spouse! We would say that our gifts are for the purpose of encouraging young men and women. We minister to couples and try to implant the Lord into their lives. Our purpose is to fulfill the dreams and goals of our church. Wherever we can assist is where we want to be.

Q: How did you come to be members of West Angeles, and how has West Angeles been instrumental in your Christian growth?

I came to West Angeles in November of 1979 out of obedience to God. After 8 months He added a wife to my life, then years later, 3 sons. Coming through the doors of this ministry was a profound move of the Lord, and hearing the Word coming from Bishop Blake was phenomenal, mesmerizing, challenging and encouraging. He taught us young men how to be men of God; good husbands and fathers. As my wife and I grew as a couple, we started to share what we were taught. We had many who told us we were having children too fast because they came 3 years in a row! I told my wife that if they had a question about that to come see me! We are married and we are doing it right and we can afford them. Many others felt that raising 3 sons would be hard. Some said, “Yeah they’ll probably end up in gang activity”, or that they were “not going anywhere”; always giving us negative feedback. We knew that we had – and still have – faith in God for their protection. We decided to listen and reflect on God’s word and accepted Psalm 91 as our family scripture. So faith comes by hearing, and we heard and read God’s word. We put faith into action. Do not allow anyone to cast a negative shadow over your family! Always remain optimistic and positive and put the word of God over every situation.

Q: Are there any stories or lessons you’d like to share from your experiences as parents which may help others?

One story we want to share about raising children is, years ago, we went with several members of our extended to an out-of-town wedding at a hotel by the sea. We had a good time with family and friends. At the end of the weekend, as everyone gathered in the lobby to check out of the hotel, we suddenly heard the fire alarm ring and everyone panicked! The Fire Department and EMS came, but there was no fire, and no one knew who pulled the alarm. For a few minutes there was confusion and questions, but still no answers. As we left the hotel, we asked the kids where they’d been during all of the excitement. As we continued our trip home, we still could not get an answer, and we believed them…somewhat. But my wife kept asking. As we continued to ask them questions over the next week or so, we finally found out that one of them had done it and the others covered for him. We dealt with the untruthful son and the two “cover-up brothers” – in a nice way of course – and with a warning about deceit and dishonesty. The interesting part is it hurt them more to cover up the story than it did for any punishment we as parents could dish out.

Q: That’s a great lesson in using discernment and persistence as parents. In closing, is there anything you’d like to share about how the ministry at West Angeles has blessed you both?

West Angeles Church is a church which flows through the Holy Spirit, in a vertical relationship with God who moves spiritually through its members. Those members who are bold enough grab hold of that Spirit through prayer and supplication. With that, the Holy Ghost flows out of each of us and we are commanded to compel men, women, boys, girls, families and marriages through the power of Jesus Christ. We have to tap in and connect to the spirit of this ministry to make world-wide change. So be encouraged to stop sitting on the sidelines and use the talents and gifts God has given you. Yield to the Holy Spirit; for, as Bishop Blake says, “We are called to minister and witness to a deeply distressed and troubled world.”

Elder and Mrs. Bradley, thank you for setting a wonderful example, and thank you for blessing us with your story.

 

The WEST ANGELES COUNSELING CENTER offers classes on marriage, parenting and more.  CONTACT 733-8300 ext. 2360, or email [email protected]

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.