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Inspiration: You Can Make A Difference

If  you were told that you could end a war, would you believe it?  If you were told that you could save the world from hatred, hurt and pain, or that you are the cure to the cancer that’s spreading throughout our society, would you doubt it? It’s overwhelming for us to believe that we, alone, can make a difference in solving the issues that seem so massive today. However, it only takes one person with the compassion and vision to heal a particular pain in our world to stand up and do so…

The rest will follow.


WHAT ONE PERSON CAN DO

I am reminded of Esther, who saved her people, the Jews, from slaughter; and the young shepherd boy, David, who slayed a giant all on his own. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. saw the need for economic equality; to free the poor and disenfranchised from discrimination, and from oppression and repression by the wealthy. Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake saw the need to create a ministry which helped children orphaned by AIDS in Africa. Save Africa’s Children created much needed support for more than 100,000 children in over 23 African nations; now, Bishop Blake has set his sights on building an economic and educational legacy here at home to empower the generations to come.

Every revolution begins with a single person deciding to make a stand. 

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”, but he who keeps the law is happy. The pattern in the word is that each battle and triumph begins with one person: and you can be that person. This does not mean you have to join every battle, but rather, pursue that calling which touches your heart most. That is the ministry that God has placed on your heart to help others, and to take each step one day at a time towards change.  You may begin alone, but I guarantee that God will not let you fight the entire battle by yourself. He will put like-minded people in your path, and together, as a mighty team in the name of Jesus, we can empower God’s people, build His Kingdom on earth, and make the world a better place.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” – Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV)

Hear William McDowell perform the beautiful hymn, “I Give Myself Away” below:

Elder Charles Blake II: Our Double Political Identity

Republican? Democrat? Conservative? Liberal? In this installment of The Elder’s Corner, Elder Charles Blake II discusses the dichotomy of being a Black Christian in political – and often polarized – America.

By Elder Charles Blake II

Since the November election, I’ve been in a number of places with those both inside and outside the African American community who have had much to say about the results of the 2016 Presidential election. There are some who expect me, by virtue of the fact that I am African American, to be in a state of depression because of President Donald Trump’s victory in the election. If they were a supporter of Mr. Trump, then they quietly choose not to openly celebrate his victory in my presence, for fear that they may raise my ire and cause me to unleash a passionate barrage of anger. If they did not vote for him, then they expected me to join with them in their anger, despair, and uncertainty at the future of our country’s well-being.

After my general disclaimer that “Whoever sits in the White House, it is God that sits on the throne of Heaven,” I had to remind them that, even when the person that they voted for wins the election, there is no guarantee that the world that they wanted to see will come to pass. When Barack Obama ran for President both times, the African American community and communities of other races, faiths and cultures came out overwhelmingly to support him and the dream of hope and change that he represented. However, as time progressed, we African Americans saw President Obama move to support agendas that had nothing to do with the issues that we face as a people. We now realize that it takes more than an African American President to heal our communities, and to help us move out of some of the issues facing us as African Americans.


WHERE DO YOU STAND?

In 2008, then Senator Barack Obama was nominated as the Democratic candidate for the President of the United States at the Democratic

National Convention. Bishop Charles Blake Sr. addressed the convention (see video, right); he also participated in a number of interviews during that time. I distinctly remember Bishop expressing the dichotomy – the double identity – of our political existence as African Americans. I heard him describe how traditionally, because of our values and morals, we are conservative; but with our political perspectives we are more progressive. We were taught by the example of our parents and grandparents the Biblical, traditional structure and values of God and family; and how, with hard work and discipline, an individual could rise to a higher level in life.

On the other hand, in our political perspectives, we are progressive. We have seen how the Federal Government, as far back as Reconstruction, had a large hand in ensuring that we as African Americans attained the rights espoused in our Constitution. We remember when the U.S. Marshals, and at times the National Guard, had to escort young African Americans to high schools and universities in the South, just so they could learn and get an education.

As a strong believer in pro-life values and traditional definitions of marriage, Bishop Blake has applauded the conservative defense of these values. However, he has decried the fact that their love and concern for the unborn stops at birth, and that more effort on their part is put into the construction of prisons than into the institutions which would build productive citizens. We, like Bishop Blake, applaud and agree with the progressive assertion that equal rights and opportunities should be available to every citizen of our nation, and that the Federal Government should protect those rights. But we, as African Americans, cannot agree with either the wholesale annihilation of millions of unborn children through abortion; or the equating of sexual preference with that of racial designation and the human rights that accompany that designation. We also cannot agree with the destruction of the traditional definitions of family and marriage.

ON THE LORD’S SIDE

We, as African American Christians, realize that we must articulate an agenda that speaks to both of our identities within the conservative and progressive agenda. The Progressives say to the African American that if we believe in Civil Rights; in the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who fought in that struggle, then we should vote Democrat.  The Conservatives say that if we as African Americans believe in God and in Christian values, then we should vote Republican: yet, neither party speaks to the totality of issues and concerns of our community.

It is only when we, as a people, begin to articulate an agenda of our own, which speaks to both our moral and our constitutional values, that we can begin to change our communities, and, in turn, our nation. Until that time however, there will be those who seek to define and articulate our agenda for us, and we will continue to be torn between two worlds and at war with one another. If this continues to be the case Beloved, it will not matter who is in the White House.

 

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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 his wife DeAndra are the proud parents of two sons. 

 


VIDEO INSET: Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. discusses human value and a pro-life perspective at the Interfaith Gathering of the 2008 DNC. Video, courtesy of C-Span.

Hear Donnie McClurkin sing his anthem to the church, “Stand”, below:

The Extraordinary the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“…‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” -Matthew 22:39-40 (NET ) 

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the greatest leaders in world history. Dr. King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950s-60s, which began in the African American communities of the segregated south. Its purpose was  to achieve legal equality and economic justice for all, the effects of which were felt not only in the United States, but also worldwide.

Dr. King’s work has transformed the lives of African Americans, women, the poor, and people of other colors and faiths in America, opening the door to greater, unprecedented opportunities for advancement in all areas of life. The purpose of the Civil Rights Movement was to establish the Constitutional and Biblical principles of equality, liberty and freedom for all in America. Dr. King’s work with the movement ignited and inspired people of other cultures and faiths worldwide in their own struggle for freedom.

THE LIFE OF DR. KING: A TIMELINE

A timeline of key events in the extraordinary life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. follows:

1929: Born  on Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, GA, Martin Luther King was the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Baptist ministers. Named Michael King at birth, King was renamed “Martin” when he was about 6 years old. His father, Martin Luther King Sr., pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, and his mother, Alberta (Williams) King, a former schoolteacher, shared the Auburn Avenue home where Dr. King spent his early years with his maternal grandparents, the Rev. Adam Daniel Williams and Jeannie Celeste Williams.

1944-48: King attends Morehouse College, majoring in sociology. Although initially reluctant to follow his calling, Dr. Benjamin Mays, President of Morehouse College, showed him that a religious career could be intellectually satisfying as well as the right foundation with which to pursue the ideals of social change. Dr. King he was ordained during his final semester at Morehouse.

President Eisenhower meets with civil rights leaders on June 23, 1958. From left to right: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., E. Frederic Morrow, Eisenhower, and A. Philip Randolph, William Rogers, and Roy Wilkins. (The Associated Press)

President Eisenhower meets with civil rights leaders on June 23, 1958. (L-R): the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., E. Frederic Morrow, Eisenhower, A. Philip Randolph, William Rogers, and Roy Wilkins. (AP)during his final semester.

1951: King began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University’s School of Theology. It was during his time in the Boston area where he met met and courted Coretta Scott, an Alabama-born Antioch College graduate who was then a student at the New England Conservatory of Music. They married two years later.

1955: Dr. King received his doctorate from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, PA. He became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL, making his first mark on the civil-rights movement by mobilizing the black community during a 382-day boycott of the city’s bus lines. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately declared bus segregation unconstitutional.

1957: Dr. King laid the groundwork for the organization now known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He was elected as its president, and he soon began helping other communities organize their own protests against discrimination.

1963: In Birmingham, AL, during a non-violent protest for fair hiring practices and the desegregation of department-store facilities, police brutality used against the marchers dramatized the plight of blacks to the nation at large. Dr. King was arrested during the protest. He wrote“Letter from a Birmingham Jail” during his imprisonment. He then became a principal speaker at the historic March on Washington, where he delivered one of the most passionate addresses of his career to a multi-racial, multi-cultural crowd, the largest which had ever assembled there on behalf of a common cause in US history. Time magazine designated him as its Person of the Year for 1963.

Alabama State Troopers swing clubs to break up a voter-demonstration march in Selma, Alabama. March 8, 1965. AP wirephoto (Associated Press / )

Troopers swing clubs to break up a voter-demonstration march in Selma, Alabama. March 8, 1965.  (AP)

1964: At 35 years old, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize  (see Dr. King’s original notes for his renowned Nobel Prize acceptance speech HERE). In Selma, Ala., he led a voter-registration campaign that ended in the Selma-to-Montgomery Freedom March. King next brought his crusade to Chicago, where he launched programs to rehabilitate the slums and provide housing.

Dr. King rallied behind a new cause: the war in Vietnam. Here, King began to also address poverty, which he saw as a fundamental connection to the cause of the war; students, professors, intellectuals, clergymen and reformers rushed into the movement as well. He called for a guaranteed family income, he threatened national boycotts, and he spoke of disrupting entire cities by non-violent “camp-ins.” With this in mind, he began to plan a massive March of the Poor on Washington, D.C., envisioning a demonstration of such intensity and size that Congress would have to recognize and deal with the huge number of desperate and downtrodden Americans.

1968: On April 4, 1968, at the age of 39, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. He was felled by an assassin’s bullet as he stood with Jesse Jackson and Ralph Abernathy on the balcony of the black-owned Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, TN. The hotel is now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.

1983: Legislation for a Holiday honoring Dr. King was first introduced four days after Dr. King’s assassination. It was signed into law in 1983. He is the only non-president to have a national holiday dedicated in his honor, and is the only non-president memorialized on the Great Mall in Washington, DC, our nation’s capitol.

 

7 QUOTES FROM THE DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

Today, we honor the legacy and memory of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with 7 of his quotes  on racism, social change, and nonviolence:

  • “Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for life…It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably, it descends to inflicting spiritual and physical homicide upon the out-group.”
  • “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now…”

  • “Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.’”

  • “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense [rather] than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

  • “It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission.” 
  • “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

See video excerpts from the historic March on Washington below, courtesy of The History Channel.


The King Library and Archives in Atlanta is the largest repository of primary source materials on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American Civil Rights Movement in the world. Significant records which document the social, cultural, economic and political impact of the civil rights movement are housed at the King Library and Archives, and are available online. See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/

Images and quotes, courtesy of The King Center.org. and The Seattle Times (accessed January 15, 2016).  http://www.thekingcenter.org/about-dr-king.

A 2017 graphic honoring the national Martin Luther King Holiday reflects its world-wide, cross-cultural reach.