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10 Inspiring Quotes on American Independence, Liberty and Freedom

In honor of Independence Day, West Angeles Church of God In Christ reflects upon the American ideals which have guided us thus far toward becoming the greatest nation on earth:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

– From The Declaration of Independence

 

“We are persuaded that good Christians will always be good citizens, and that where righteousness prevails among individuals the Nation will be great and happy. Thus while just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government it’s surest support.”

 George Washington

 

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts: not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

– Abraham Lincoln

 

“Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us, a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”

– From the American National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Francis Scott Key

 

“Lift ev’ry voice and sing,

‘til earth and heaven rings;

Rings with the harmonies of liberty.”

– From “The Negro National Anthem,” James Weldon Johnson and  J. Rosamond Johnson

 

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts: not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution”.

– Abraham Lincoln

 

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right”.

– Abraham Lincoln

 

“With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day”.

-From  “I Have A Dream,” the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

My country ‘tis of thee

Sweet land of liberty; of thee I sing.

Land where our fathers died; land of the Pilgrim’s pride;

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

-From “America,” Samuel Francis Smith

 

“America, America, God sheds His grace on thee.

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea.”

-From “America The Beautiful,” Katharine Lee Bates

 

“Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal…In chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t feel ashamed about; memories more accessible than those of ancient Egypt, memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild”.

-From “Dreams From My Father,” President Barack Obama

 

Have a Blessed Independence Day, From West Angeles Church of God In Christ!

 

 

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:

A Case for Michelle (Not That She Needs It)…

Shara Stewart honors First Lady Michelle Obama and reflects upon the importance of her role in her husband’s historic time in office, on this final day of the Obama Presidency, January 20, 2017.

 

Please click the images below to enlarge the slideshow.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates”

– Proverbs 31:30-31 (NKJV)
 

Michelle Obama is, and will always be, the definitive “Shero” (not a typo… She-Hero) for every little Black girl and every enlightened Black woman. She is the living embodiment of every poem that Maya Angelou has penned, and while everyone sees that Barack continued the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, let us never miss the fact that Michelle Obama has grabbed the baton from Coretta Scott King with a type of grace and poignancy previously unimaginable.

I remember reading an article which indicated that Michelle was somewhat of a reluctant First Lady. I can relate, as I remember being reluctant to take on a certain title of my own (In my case, I had no problem supporting the man and his dream, even when I found that my place in said dMICHELLE wavesream was unclear. But that’s a story for another day). She managed to take my exact fears and show me how to walk right through them. I learned from her. I followed her. I realized, even with my doubts, that I, Shara, could be someone’s Michelle.

And to think, a woman who once wore the same nappy pigtails I did, whose high cheekbones and thick thighs match my own and those of the women in my family, has spent the last eight years planting vegetables on the White House lawn. She did this not because she was paid to, but because she chose to as a hobby. On a slow Sunday morning. Sipping lemonade. My God, my God.

She is the Wife we hope to be, adored, adorned, supported, and completely satisfied by the life she chose and the man she stands behind. She is the Mother we pray God will allow us to be, raising two daughters who are so clearly poised to be queens.

She allowed (YES: allowed) her husband to stand and lead, while knowing that she was just as smart, capable, and competent as he. She shows us the unmistakable beauty and strength in the submission the Bible charges us aspiring Proverbs 31 women to take on. She wears that submission beautifully, knowing that she has chosen to submit to a man who loves her exactly the way that Christ loves the Church.

 

INTELLIGENCE IN MOTION

Michelle has breathed new life into the elegance of intelligence. In my daydreams, I see Barack giving her the rough draft of his official address, and her final edits turn it into the speech he gives to the American people. I listen to his speeches and hear where he chose to use her words. Every time I hear her speak, I am completely convicted and charged to do more, to be more, to study harder, to read one more book; to become who she would want me to be. Her mind is as beautiful as her smile; her mission as powerful as her gait.

She shows us all, but especially us black women and girls, what it looks like to Win. She is undoubtedly herself, and yet, she is all of us.

I thank her. From the bottom of my very very grateful heart. I am nothing but selfish, wishing her four more years as First Lady; not for her sake, or even for the sake of the country, but for my own. I want to watch her just a bit longer. There is more for her to teach me.

Stay “Mo”… stay.


Unless otherwise credited, all photos, Pete Souza for the White House; many thanks.