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Don’t Let These 6 Things Steal Your Potential

Are there “thieves” in your life? Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake exposes the elements of our lives which rob us of our full potential in Christ Jesus.

 

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion – Luke 10:30-33(NKJV)

 

Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. teaches a lesson on the thieves which rob us of our potential.

We’ve heard many times the story of the good Samaritan.  Thieves came upon a man who was on a journey; the  man had a goal. Goals are essential to progress, but good goals must not keep us from the best goals in life.  In order to prosper and to reach high levels of renown and popularity, “good” can often be the enemy of “the best.”

In this scripture, the thieves beat the man and wounded him; they left him naked and half dead.  A wounded person cannot function normally until they have recuperated. Nakedness is a sign of disgrace and of poverty. To be half dead means being only half alive: and this man was destined to die without help.

The man who was devastated and wounded represents  us.

The priest who passed him by represents the rites and the sacraments of organized religion – which, in themselves, cannot save us.

The Levite who passed him by represents man’s moral and ethical efforts – which, by themselves, cannot save us.

And the thieves who beat him represent those things that potentially strip us and wound us and leave us half dead.

In this day and age, so many are moving  fast, but in reality they are really going nowhere. The man in our story had a goal.  He was on a journey; he had a destination.  Like him, men who were once exploding with dreams, goals and potential are now lying beside the road naked and dying. What happened to them?

Thieves happened.

 

6 THIEVES WHICH CAN STEAL YOUR LIFE

 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death – James 1:14-15 (NKJV)

The Bible teaches that sin is a thief. It’s a thief that destroys life and happiness on this earth, and also in the world to come.  The evil forces that would destroy us use various enticements, but the goal is to wound us, to strip us, and to leave us half dead.

God despises sin because of what it does to His children.  Romans 6 says that “the wages of sin is death”: that which is opposed to the will of God will kill us. And 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 tells us that:

Don’t Let These 6 Things Steal Your Potential: Sin keeps us from the fullness of Christ.

  1. Fornication and adultery  are thieves.  They spread diseases which cause sickness and death. They rob boys and girls of their childhood; making them parents while they are still children. They are the greatest factors in the abortion epidemic. They break up marriages and destroy families.
  2. Idolatry is a thief, causing men to serve the wrong God. Anything that separates us from God is an idol and is a sin.
  3. Homosexuality is a thief because it contradicts God’s image of what a family should be. It deprives society of needed mothers and fathers, and it sometimes recruits and draws children into that lifestyle.
  4. Covetousness is a thief. Excessive desire for material things places higher value on money and things than it does on people.
  5. Extortion is nothing more than a high-class thief.
  6. Drunkenness is a thief. Whether by alcohol or by drugs, the jails and mental institutions are filled with victims of substance abuse.

But verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 6 says, “and such were some of you: but you were washed, you were sanctified,  you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.”

That means, the better we become, the better our lives become.

 

JESUS IS THE WAY 

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly – John 10:10

The man in the story was on a mission: he had a goal. But even a good objective can become a bad objective when it precludes God and shuts God out.  He was on a journey, but he made a mistake: he should not have traveled alone. It’s time for me to reveal who the good Samaritan is:

The good Samaritan represents Jesus.

Have you been stripped? Have you been disgraced? Are you going through a time of trouble and distress? Know that you don’t have to travel the road of life by yourself.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God tells us, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin.”  If you really want to live your best life, then it’s time to fall down before God and to repent for your sins.  Raise your hands and say:

“Lord, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You, Lord, for stepping in just when I need You most, and for turning my life around. Thank You for giving me Your power.  I need the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Child of God, if you’ve got Jesus Christ with you on the road of life, then God will be with you. You’ve got the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: stand up and say, “Power!”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Luke 10:30-37, Psalms 95:6, 101,147:4; Isaiah 43:7, Philippians 3:7, Acts 17:28, John 3:16, 6:68, 10:7-10; Matthew 6:33, James 1:14-15, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 6.

Adapted from the sermon, “Thieves”, by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., at West Angeles Church of God In Christ. Watch the entire sermon below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you know what an idol is? Read our post titled, “WHAT’S AN IDOL?” HERE.

Featured illustration for Don’t Let These 6 Things Steal Your Potential by Pastor Kyle Reed, c/o Creation Swap.

Marriage Series: Lady Mae and the Power of Prayer

Part II of our series on marriage features our beloved First Lady Mae L. Blake, who shares with us the power and value of prayer in keeping a marriage strong.

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul – Psalm 25:1

Praying is one of the most important things that we can do because it brings us into the presence of God. Prayer is recognizing that the Lord is right next to us all the time. It is said that prayer is quietly opening a door, and slipping into the very presence of God. It is simply the lifting up of our souls to Him.

When we pray and lift our souls to God, it gives Him an opportunity to do His will in our lives because we are putting ourselves in His hands. Now believe me…prayer can bring you though some very painful and difficult times in your life. And it will give you peace.

A HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH

Not long ago, Satan thought he was going to destroy my family. He walked right up into the Blake household –

A household that loves and serves the Lord conscientiously,

A household that cares for others,

A household that does everything to build and preserve God’s Kingdom,

A household that is covered by the Blood of Jesus  –

and viciously and publicly attacked us. And Satan did not just send his demons or imps, he came himself, with the intent to kill and destroy my husband. Not only did Satan try to destroy the father, but he also tried to destroy the mother, the innocent children, and the grandchildren too. The devil does not care who he attacks!

No wife wants to see her husband attacked. But Bishop instilled in me a long time ago that he did not need me in the boxing ring to help him fight battles. He said, “I can stand my ground, thank you very much; there’s no need for both of us to get beaten up! So you just stand on the outside of the ring, in the corner by the ropes, and pray for me. And when I come to your corner wounded, just love me: pamper me, wipe my head, and tell me it’s going to be alright, and give me a kiss!”

So when Satan attacks my household:

You will not find me in a verbal fight telling someone off.

You will not find me with a negative attitude toward someone and not speaking to them.

You will not find me calling around and talking on the phone about a situation

You will not find me holding court in the midst of people, spewing anger.

Even though Bishop tells me not to jump in, I DO jump in another way, because I have a powerful weapon that I will not let go to waste. I do not fight standing up. I fight quietly on my knees and sitting at the feet of Jesus. I pull out my powerful weapon, which is prayer.

I jump in and help him fight through prayer.

I jump in and help him fight through fasting.

I jump in and help him fight through praises.

I jump in and help him fight through supplication.

I jump in and help him fight through interceding.

I jump in and help him fight by going to God on his behalf.

The Lord gave me the strength to throw some mean and powerful spiritual punches without opening my mouth, because if you hold your peace, prayer and the Bible can bring you through some difficult times. If Satan would dare walk into the Blake household with any mess, confusion, or dissension, he has a fight on his hands, because this household is protected by God and the precious blood of Jesus!

YOUR WAR HOUSE

I know you’ve heard of the movie “War Room.” In our house, not only do I have a little prayer closet, but also, each room is armed for battle against Satan. I have personally gone through and anointed each room in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. There is an arsenal of prayer in every room: making our entire house a war house! I pray for Bishop each night when he is asleep; I anoint him with oil and pray God’s protection over him. All married women should do this for their husbands.

Most days it’s just the 2 of us – God and me – against Satan and his entourage. But it doesn’t matter because, through prayer, we have a close relationship and bond. I talk to God just as I’d speak to a friend, because:

I have power that you can’t see.

Because God is living inside me.

I can fight any enemy,

Because God and me are a majority.

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – Psalm 25:1, Luke 3:22, Deuteronomy 33:12.

 

First Lady Mae Lawrence Blake is a phenomenal woman of God, and a gift to West Angeles. She is first, wife to the Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ and second, the founder of the Women Affairs Organization. Under her direction, the organization sponsors and coordinates numerous dynamic activities for the edification of the church and its women, including the inspirational luncheon, “A Day In May With Mae.” She is a loving devoted wife to  Bishop Charles E. Blake and together they have three children and eight grandchildren. 

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Hear the creators, cast and crew of the movie “War Room” discuss the power of prayer below:

” Lady Mae and the Power of Prayer” is adapted from the Holy Convocation address, “The Power and Value of Prayer” by First Lady Mae L. Blake.

Discipleship: Please Join Us for Movie Night!

The West Angeles Department of Discipleship would like to invite you to our April MOVIE NIGHT!

Witness the transforming power of forgiveness in the movie, THE GRACE CARD, where a police officer and part-time Pastor work together in life-threatening situations, even when they don’t see eye to eye on anything else.

Everything can change in an instant…and take a lifetime to unravel. Every day, we have the opportunity to rebuild relationships by extending and receiving God’s grace. Offer The Grace Card, and never underestimate the power of God’s love.

West Angeles Discipleship movie Grace Card

Join us at the West Angeles North Campus on

Friday, April 21, in Room 8 at 7 p.m.

Address: 3045 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

Please Join Us on Resurrection Sunday!

PRESIDING BISHOP CHARLES E. BLAKE, FIRST LADY MAE L. BLAKE

and the

WEST ANGELES WORSHIP AND ARTS MINISTRY with Dr. Judith McAllister

 invite you to worship with with us on

EASTER SUNDAY: RESURRECTION SUNDAY!

RESURRECTION Sunday2017

CLICK THE VIDEO BELOW TO LEARN MORE!

AND:

RESURRECTION concert 2017
Easter flyer 2017 copy

Morning Services at The West Angeles Cathedral
Address: 3600 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016
Evening Concert at The West Angeles North Campus Sanctuary
Address: 3045 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

7 Steps to Persistence Through Christ

Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you – Philippians 4:9

No matter which stage of life one is in, persistence will usually secure the desired experience. Whether it is an infant crying for a bottle, a child who is begging his parent for a particular toy, a teenager who asks to borrow the car, or one spouse entreating the other, all will find that being persistent will eventually gain the desired attention. Well, just as we are determined to acquire certain items or favors, we must be even more determined and persistent in what we demonstrate through our lives.

Determination, perseverance, resolve, diligence and tenacity are just some of the words that define persistence, and these must be our aim in living for Jesus each day. Here are 7 steps to living a life of persistence through Jesus Christ:

  1. We will arise to each new day with the desire to be a Holy Vessel for His Glory. Philippians 4:1-Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters stay true to the Lord. 4-Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

  2. We won’t allow any challenge to deter us from living for Jesus. Philippians 4:6-Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.

  3. We will be mindful of the thoughts which we allow to linger in our minds, and we will only embrace those thoughts which motivate us to live even the more for Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:8-Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

  4. We will strive to obey Jesus, no matter how others treat us, talk about or ridicule us. Philippians 4:5-Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. 7-Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

  5. We must display the Spirit of Christ through our lives each day. We can’t just talk about being Christians, Followers of Jesus Christ, or Sons or Daughters of the Great High God, but we must truly live the Christian life. Philippians 4:9-Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Hebrews 12:14 (NIV) – Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. And Colossians 4:6 (ESV)-Let your speech always be gracious
  6. We share with others the joy and benefits of living persistent lives as Christians. John 20:21 – As the Father has sent Me, so also I am sending you.
  7. We find that as we mature in the Lord, all that God requires of us not only advances the testimony of His Holy Kingdom, but also enriches our own lives. 1 Peter 1:8(NLT) – You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. John 14:27(NLT) – I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart.

Jesus wants us to share with the world the sweet truth of how He forgives us, no matter what we have done, and that we can do and complete whatever task He gives us. Better than milk, persistence in living for Jesus does the body, mind and spirit good.

There is nothing like it- the satisfaction of knowing that the Father is pleased with us, loves us unconditionally and displays His faithful love to us each moment of our lives. Thank you God for the invitation, and for the ability to live for Your glory and for the betterment of our lives both here and in the hereafter.

We Love You Lord! We Praise You Lord! We honor and bless Your Holy Name! God bless you my beloved Kingdom sisters and brothers!

Dr. Tonya Lewis has been a member of West Angeles Church of God In Christ for over 40 years. She serves on-staff as the Executive Director of Bereavement Ministries. She holds both Honorary Doctorate and Earned Doctorate degrees. Dr. Lewis has been teaching the Overcomer’s Bible Fellowship for over 34 years at West Angeles, along with other teaching venues.


Hear Patrick Lundy & The Ministers of Music perform “DETERMINED” –

Member Profile: Dr. Judith McAllister

West Angeles Church of God In Christ welcomes back Dr. Judith Christie McAllister as she leads West Angeles’ Music and Worship Arts Ministry into its glorious future. Read the latest interview with Dr. McAllister as she discusses her history, her vision, and her musical goals for the year ahead in a recent feature from the Los Angeles Sentinel.

Dr. McAllister, please tell us about your ministry, and your role in the church.

My name is Judith McAllister and the ministry I am honored to serve in is that of “Worship” in every sense of the word. As a Worship Leader, who makes others aware of the presence of God in those special times dedicated to “Praise and Worship” within the church, I have the responsibility to set, maintain and protect the atmosphere, to ensure that it is conducive for the glory of God to reside.

Through the lens of worship, I have the honor of governing in the servant leadership position of the International Minister of Music/President for the

Dr. Judith McAllister.

Dr. Judith McAllister.

Church of God in Christ, Inc., which boasts over 6 million members worldwide. In this role, I coordinate the musical presentations for all of our major conferences and services. I also have the responsibility to travel to various churches within the brotherhood to teach, train, instruct and impart to the constituents tools necessary for excellence in their presentation of worship and music. Also, I have once again been given the wonderful opportunity to serve as the minister of music, worship and liturgy at West Angeles Church of God in Christ, where Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., serves as senior pastor.
In addition, I am the CEO of three entities that enable me to mentor, train and empower the next generation in music and worship arts. Judah Music Group LLC, which served as the springboard for the following recordings – “Send Judah First” (2000), “Raise the Praise” (2002), “In His Presence” (2006) and “Sound The Trumpet” (2008); Never Ending Worship (N.E.W.) Enterprises LLC, which houses all ministry products, and Never Ending Worship Ministries, (NEW MIN.) which serves as the foundation for all workshops and ministry engagements.

How long have you been in ministry, and how did you get started in it?

I have been ministering for over 35 years and this ministry began in my home church in New York City, (The Manhattan Holy Tabernacle) where I developed a love for the hymns of the church. Matriculating through my foundational years of school, I was named a prodigy; a classically-trained pianist studying at the famed School of the Performing Arts in New York, (graduating at 16 years of age) which afforded the initial tools necessary to execute my craft with precision and excellence, which in turn opened many doors, allowing me to participate in piano recitals at some of the city’s most prestigious halls such as CAMI, Carnegie and Lincoln Center.

What role has God or your faith played in your ministry?

God is all to me. It is within Him that I live and move and have my being. I do all that I do, because of my love and sincere gratitude for His love, favor and grace upon my life. In being recognized as a trailblazer in the area of praise and worship in the African American Church, my faith allows me to provide new paradigms for kingdom excellence in ministry; and in addition to mentoring music ministers all around the globe, I trust and have faith that my instruction continues to impact the body of Christ by elevating the understanding of radical, reverent and revelational worship.
What is one of the most memorable moments or experiences during your ministry?

Following a very powerful worship service, a young single mother approached me to say that her child was moved to tears while I was singing and ministering in song. I looked at the young 7-year-old boy, who was still under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and spoke into his life that the hand of God was on him and that he too, one day, would be a servant of the Lord in ministry. It blessed me so to see his face light up with joy and the essence of the Holy Spirit overshadowing him. In that moment, I understood and was blessed by the knowledge that the Lord used me as a vessel to awaken something within him, something neither he nor his mother had ever witnessed before!

What are you doing or working on now, and what are some of your future goals?

I am currently working on the “Promises of God” Project, which is inclusive of a CD single, a daily devotional and other worship aids of the same name, scheduled for release June 2017.
One of my many aspirations is to build a School of Worship and Arts for those who desire to be excellent in their presentation, spiritually, musically and professionally. I also desire to utilize my record label to give young, anointed and integral worship leaders the platform to be exposed to the world; to open doors for them that I did not have the privilege of walking through when I was young and on fire for the Lord.

Finally, my life is aptly summarized by this personal mission statement: “To fulfill the purpose of God for my existence to its fullest capacity, to die empty: having maximized every gift, passed on every ounce of wisdom having been blessed to obtain, completed every assignment and accomplished all that God has ordained for my life.”

Adapted from “L.A. Women of the Gospel – Judith McAllister.”  Published March 15, 2017. Reprinted courtesy of the LA Sentinel.


Hear the West Angeles Mass Choir lead by Dr. Judith McAllister in a performance of “Great”; West Angeles Church of God In Christ.

Bishop Blake, Magic Focus on Advancing Black Males

Originally posted on LAsentinel.net.

Bishop Charles E. Blake, pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, and businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson are partnering to offer advancement services to equip African American men to succeed in life.

During the official launch event on March 18 at West Angeles COGIC, the two leaders announced the initiative before an audience of 400+ men attending the church’s Brotherhood Organization gathering.

The program, billed as “Super Saturday,” featured breakfast and motivational speeches by Blake, Johnson and actor and entrepreneur Romell Witherspoon.

“This initiative was birthed out of a deep concern about poor academic achievement, financial disenfranchisement, high unemployment, soaring crime levels, the desperate state of the African-American male and the breakdown of the family unit that plagues our cities, small and large, urban and rural,” explained Blake.

To combat those challenges, the advancement services will focus on education (access, excellence and  equity), economic development (job creation and training), crime prevention (reduction and  rehabilitation), family life (developing healthy men, women and children) and financial literacy (earning, saving, investing and spending wisely).

While West Angeles COGIC already offers 20 programs specifically for men, Blake noted the Super Saturday event strengthens the church’s effort to do even more to help African American males.

“This is kind of a special day to have Earvin with us now and Witherspoon, a very sharp entrepreneur, to share with us from a millennial perspective. Nobody’s a better businessman than Earvin “Magic” Johnson. He’s taking us to another level and we’re going to continue as long as we are here,” said Blake.

Explaining that the initiative is another step towards community improvement, Johnson said, “The face of our community changed when Bishop built the church (West Angeles Cathedral).  I think people’s minds were changed, so now we have products and services and goods that we never had before in our community.

“We have had so many things happen that are positive in our community. This is what it’s all about. We’ve got to continue to take striving steps to make our community better.”

Johnson’s commitment to community development and empowerment is illustrated by his long history of establishing businesses and hiring people in underserved communities across the nation. In South L.A., he is heralded for opening a movie theater, several Starbucks and other businesses in the area. Through his Magic Johnson Foundation, he sponsors a number of philanthropic campaigns such HIV educational and  awareness programs.

A 25-year member of West Angeles COGIC and president of the L.A. Lakers, Johnson said, “I’m never going to change.  It’s not about my job or what I do, but who I am.  I will always be a man who will be involved.”

“His businesses that he manages here in Los Angeles and the economic opportunities he provides are in the hood or near the hood. So I’m very proud of him and his efforts to improve to enhance the community,” added Blake.

Convocation Expected to Inject Millions into STL

Originally posted on STLAmerican.com

The Church of God in Christ’s 109th Holy Convocation projected to make over $30 million economic impact to St. Louis metro area. This gathering of more than 40,000 attendees, scheduled for November 7-13 at the America’s Center and the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis, is one of the city’s largest conventions.

“We expect a record number of attendees this year, which means our organization will have an increased economic impact on the St. Louis area,” Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. said.

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is one of the oldest Pentecostal denominations in the world and the fourth largest Protestant group in the United States, with churches in 83 countries worldwide and a membership of nearly 6.5 million adherents.

Highlights for the week include:

Thursday, November 10. COGIC Urban Initiatives presents “An Education Affair” in collaboration with the United States Department of Education, in America’s Center Atrium from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Thursday-Saturday, November 10-12. COGIC Health Fair in America’s Center Atrium, 2nd Floor, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily.

Friday, November 11. COGIC Urban Initiatives 7th Annual Job Fair in America’s Center Atrium, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Saturday, November 12. Christmas in November blesses the St. Louis community with free groceries, clothes, appliances, cosmetics, toys, hot lunches, haircuts, and free cell phones with minutes for those who qualify, at 5300 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Children must be present to receive toys, and adults must show an ID. This event requires registration at COGIC.org, or call 314-583-0610.

“This will be the sixth year the convention has been held in St. Louis,” Bishop Blake said, “and we are excited to return to such a hospitable city.”

For more information about COGIC’s community outreach efforts during the 109th Holy Convocation or to view the schedule of activities, visit www.cogic.org.

Bishop Blake, Garcetti Show Support for Measure M

Originally posted on LaSentinel.net

More than 30 faith leaders joined L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to encourage passage of Measure M, the Nov. 8 ballot initiative calling for a half-cent countywide sales tax to fund transit and road projects and improvements in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

During a breakfast meeting on Oct. 14 at West Angeles Church of God in Christ, several clergy representing some of the largest congregations in South L.A. endorsed the measure, proclaiming its passage will ease traffic, create 465,000 new jobs, and modernize the county’s transportation system.

Measure M, sponsored by MTA, promises a host of benefits, if it receives 2/3 of the vote.  According to the description in the voter’s information booklet, the measure will provide funding to improve freeway traffic flow and safety, repair potholes and sidewalks, repave local streets, earthquake retrofit bridges, synchronize traffic signals, keep senior/disabled/student fares affordable, expand rail/subway/bus systems, improve job/school/ airport connections and create jobs.

If approved, the ½ cent sales tax will become effective January 1, 2017 and remain in place until voters decide to end it.  The measure also calls for regular independent audits to ensure accountability and transparency.

“I know many congregations have been impacted by Metro’s construction and expansion efforts.  But the good news is that we will all reap the benefits of an expanded and more reliable system that relieves traffic,” said Bishop Charles E. Blake of West Angeles COGIC.

“At West Angeles COGIC, we have first-hand knowledge of the benefits of affordable and reliable transportation.  Many of our congregants come to church by train and the Metro line and our employees use it to come to work.”

While acknowledging the improved quality of life that a modern transportation network offers, Ridley-Thomas made it plain: “This is also about jobs, jobs and more jobs.  There is no other public construction project in this state that will generate 400,000+ jobs.”

In his remarks, Garcetti said that Measure M was also about people and their stories.  Sharing examples, he cited the dilemma faced by an 82-year-old veteran without a public transportation option to get medicine and a South Los Angeles child who never visited the beach.

“Now with the Expo Line open to Santa Monica, all that public transportation fulfills the dream that lives within you.  It’s the church network that makes sure that we touch the lives of individuals,” said Garcetti.

Pastor J. Edgar Boyd of First AME Church of Los Angeles and Apostle Beverly “Bam” Crawford of

Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church in Inglewood echoed the comments of previous speakers and announced their support for the measure as well.

“Measure M ensures that our emerging and growing infrastructure will be built to last.  It will provide a constant stream of revenue so the system will be adequately maintained.  It ensures rider safety and reliability. We encourage people to do whatever they can to support a yes vote on Measure M,” said Boyd.

Bishop Blake Talks Importance of Black Church, Black Vote

Originally posted on Ebony.com.

Since the enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Black churches have always played a pivotal role in the electoral process. During the Civil Rights Movement, Sunday morning pulpits were preachers’ soapboxes to commingle God’s word with inspiration and information regarding civil rights initiatives, including rights and privileges guaranteed by that law.

In response to the civil rights political victories, African-Americans exercised their right to vote with passion. Within months of the act’s passage, one quarter of a million new Black voters had been registered. By 1969, Tennessee had a 92.1% turnout; Arkansas, 77.9%; and Texas, 73.1%.

The enthusiasm with which African-Americans vote has diminished over decades. It remains the Black church’s responsibility to encourage its membership to participate in the electoral process; remind them of their history; and empower them to be heard through their vote.

Black voter turnout, or the lack thereof, will have a significant impact on the election of the next president of The United States of America. This presidential campaign season, many Black evangelicals find ourselves in a bit of a quandary. I am a Pentecostal pastor who is a pro-life, registered Democrat. Thus, I am biblically and doctrinally opposed to policies that support same-sex marriage and abortion. But simultaneously, I support policies that empower the middle-class, poor, uneducated, disadvantaged, and effectively improve the civic, economic, religious, and cultural conditions of our African-American communities. An agreement or disagreement on one issue cannot dictate one’s vote. We must look to the totality of the candidates’ platforms to make an informed voting decision.

As the Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), a 6 million member denomination, and the Pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, a 25,000 member congregation in the inner-city of Los Angeles, I take seriously my obligation as an American citizen to vote, despite the complexity of choice we sometimes face. To that end, my vote must be cast for the candidate who cares most about my community, my family, the Black church, its rights and our parishioners.

There are many pastors formally endorsing presidential candidates this campaign season, to much fanfare. It is an insult to the intelligence and savvy of the Black church membership for political candidates, strategists and pollers to assume that for whomever a “church leader” cast his or her vote, the membership will follow blindly. Moreover, legally and constitutionally, the church should not exert influence over the outcome of elections and individuals involved in elections. In fact, a 1954 Tax Reform Act, commonly termed the “Johnson Amendment” noted that all tax-exempt organizations are banned from supporting or opposing political candidates.

However, the Tax Reform Act does not require the church to remain silent. Morally and from a humane perspective, the church should take positions on issues that impact people; the poor, disenfranchised, those who cannot speak loudly for themselves either because of lack of resources or lack of access.

Every once in awhile, an issue rises to the level of potentially contributing to the good or ill of our African-American society; or an issue rises in relationship to those things that are most sacred to us. Consequently, on occasion, it is imperative for the Black church to articulate its position. This presidential campaign season represents one of those occasions where the Black church must articulate its position and express its expectations of the presidential candidates; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

A review of recent comments from each of the candidates demonstrates that each must worker harder to engage the Black Church in a compelling way. Mr. Trump stated, “I believe we need a civil rights agenda for our time, one that ensures the right to a great education . . . and the right to live in safety and in peace, and to have a really, really great job, a good-paying job, and one that you love to go to every morning.” It is unclear to me what Mr. Trump meant by a “civil rights agenda for our time.” The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 prescribed an end to segregation, an end to discrimination in employment, desegregation of schools, and equal opportunity to live in safety and peace. We don’t need a new “civil rights agenda,” we need politicians who are passionate and committed to furthering and fulfilling the original Civil Rights Act.

In response to Mr. Trump’s question to African-Americans: “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed. What … do you have to lose?” If the next President does not understand, empathize and sympathize with the daily struggles and dreams of African-Americans, then we have 50 years of progress to lose.

Secretary Clinton, as of late, has begun to engage the Black church in a more consistent manner, which does not mean, a more meaningful manner. She told a predominantly Black audience that the nation needed “a president who will pray with you and for you.” She has also stated that she is “grateful for the great gift of personal salvation and for the great obligation of the social gospel.” To any God-fearing Christian, these words are music to our ears. Yet, they fall short of speaking directly to our problems and offering tangible solutions that will be top priorities on day one in the Oval Office.

The Black church must wield its strength in numbers and influence and demand that the presidential candidates speak to the issues that impact their members every day. The narrative must shift from how the other candidate will harm us, to how their presidency will help us. Therefore, a clear understanding and agreement in a candidate’s positions, as they relate to the congregants of the Black church, is what will determine who gets the vote.

The Black church is too powerful an institution to be taken for granted or underestimated. Based on our voter engagement, we will cast the deciding votes as to who will be the 45th President of the United States of America.   The Black church equals Black power.