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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.

Obama, Fatherhood, and “Dreams From My Father”

West Angeles honors Father’s Day with a look at 10 principles which helped to develop the leader of the free world, drawn from the autobiography of President Barack Hussein Obama.

We love our men; we love our fathers. You keep our families strong, and you’re the first example of manhood we see as children. No one has endured what you have over the centuries, but overcoming those challenges has made you the strongest men on earth. Now, we need your strength and your vision to rebuild our communities and our families, and to save our children, too.

Ten years ago, I read President Obama’s autobiography, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, which was originally published when Barack Obama was in his early 30s. In it, he spoke of his diverse lineage and racial identity; his troubled youth, the larger-than-life image of his absent father, and his quest to find the meaning of manhood and of his life. In his story, I saw glimpses of the principles our ancestors have used to endure for millenniums: faith, hope, hard work, determination, and love, principles any young person could grow from and any country would thrive through.  

Not long ago, I listened as the President told the backstory of his troubled youth at a conference for men and boys of color at the White House. I wondered if his story was being used in schools, or if the educational system had made his autobiography required reading. If not – especially with the importance of embracing and uplifting American youth of color – then we can certainly start today.

Below is a list of nine principles of fatherhood drawn from “Dreams From My Father” which can help provide the tools needed for parents, mentors, and teachers of African American children, principles which helped shape our president into the man he has become:

The Obama family worships at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Virginia on Easter, 2016.

The Obama family worships at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Virginia on Easter, 2016.

  1. Place God at the center of your family. The Christian faith has played a pivotal, inseparable, role in the African American journey in the United States, and in the ideals and beliefs of the country as a whole. President Obama was raised by his mother, who was raised in a strong Christian household; he and First Lady Michelle Obama also raise their daughters in the Christian faith. Barack Obama realized that the Bible’s stories are our stories too[1]; belief in the Bible’s truths mends the spiritual chain broken by our enslavement, and gives our children a stable foundation from which to build.

 

  1. Accentuate the positive. The National Center for Biotechnology Information recently revealed the results of a study which concluded that positivity is good for your health, and also increases your abilities[2]. These principles are also central to Christian belief. Barack Obama’s family painted a picture of his father as brilliant and confident, even in his absence. Surround your children with positive energy. Speak positively about them, your spouse, and their possibilities.

 

  1. Teach them the power of giving back. Barack Obama displayed at an early age a heart for helping others, and it became the focus of his life’s work. Doing for others out of love increases our power spiritually, and is one of the foremost principles of the Christian faith[3].  
OBAMAfamilythrobk copy

Barack and Michelle Obama with daughters Malia and Sasha, in the early days of parenting.

  1. Teach resilience and determination. Many of us remember growing up with the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”[4].  Throughout the book and throughout his life, Barack Obama, when faced with obstacles, overcame them by consistently reevaluating his  strategies. We can start by allowing our children to witness our own determination in our work, our marriages, and our relationships with them.

 

  1. Be proactive about education. “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom,” said George Washington Carver. Yet, “Without individual memory, a person literally loses his identity,” says historian William McNeil. “The changing perspectives of historical understanding are the very best introduction we can have to the practical problems of real life”[5]. We know that acquiring degrees and trades are important, but central to our success is the knowledge of our African ancestry, and we cannot wait for the schools to include our history in its curriculum. Not only did President Obama’s mother supplement his education by giving him additional lessons before each school day, his teachers also encouraged his thirst for knowledge of his African ancestry.

 

  1.  Limit television and media. Television is not a replacement for strong role models, nor for examples of virtue, integrity, or African American manhood. In fact, recent studies reveal just the opposite, that the media is a “significant contributing factor” in the undermining of our youth, and leads to a majority of society’s ills, including violence, hypersexuality, obesity, and poor health habits[6]. In his book, President Obama often reflected upon the demoralizing, diminishing effect the media had on him as an African American youth, and as President, he often asks families to turn off the television and turn back to reading and homework.

    A young Barack Obama with his father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., in Hawaii, 1960's.

    A young Barack Obama with his father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., in Hawaii, 1960’s.

 

  1. Travel with your children. Traveling gives children a wider perspective of the world and informs the vision of themselves as global citizens. President Obama experienced many cultures at an early age, but even if you can’t leave the country, start with traveling beyond your neighborhood, city or state borders.  

 

  1. Talk to your children; observe them. I noticed in the book that there was constant dialogue between Obama, his family, and  his mentors about life, identity, and purpose. Your observations reveal keys to your child’s purpose early in their life, and enables you to encourage them to pursue not what they want to do with their lives, but what they were born to do. “The safest place to be is in the will of God,” says Bishop Charles E. Blake.

 

  1.  Have hope. Barack Obama had family, mentors,  teachers, and community leaders who never gave up on him. If we have high expectations of our children, they will believe in themselves.

 

As Americans, we must see all children as our own, and not continue to allow fear and ignorance define us. We have much work to do to fulfill the promise America was founded on, but we, as a people, “have come a mighty long way”[7].  Even when we veer off-course, no matter how dire the circumstances, through faith and determination, we always manage to get back on track and overcome our greatest challenges.

 


 

REFERENCES

  1. “Dream From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance”, by Barack Obama. August, 2004; Broadway Books.Pg. 294.  
  2. MayoClinic.org: “Positive Thinking: Stop Negative Self-talk” http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950National Center for Biotechnology Information http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156028/
  1. Matthew 7:11-12.
  2. William Edward Hickson.
  3. William NcNeil; historians.org. http://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/archives/why-study-history-(1985)
  1. Why Media’s Bad for your children- http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1864141,00.html
  1. “Mighty Long Way”; gospel lyrics by Joe Pace.

PHOTOS – Official Obama family photo by Pete Souza; Obama family worship, courtesy, Barack Obama on Twitter; Obama family photos.

Manhood to Fatherhood 2015

Men, please join us every Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the North Campus to learn the skills on how to build a strong foundation for our families to be the strong men of God needed today.

For more information, please call the West Angeles Counseling Center.

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]