Milwaukee, WI – Grace Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee offers several worship services during Holy
Week (April 18-19) and on Easter Sunday (April 21). Dates and service times are listed below:
Maundy Thursday Thursday, April 18, 2019 12:10 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.
The Anniversary of the Chalice is a service recalling the last holy meal Jesus instituted the night of his betrayal. The 12:10 p.m. service is condensed to a half hour, so downtown professionals can attend over the lunch hour. Both services will have Holy Communion available to church members and members of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, but all are welcome to attend.
Friday, April 19, 2019 12:10 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.
At 12:10 p.m., The Death of Our Lord service is focused on the innocent suffering and death of Christ on the cross. The service is also condensed to a half hour, so downtown professionals can attend over the lunch hour. At 6:30 p.m., The Service of the Seven Words will take place. This uniquely structured service, which differs from the one offered at noon, focuses on the last seven words Jesus spoke while on the cross.
Sunday, April 21, 2019 6:30, 7:45 9 & 10:30 a.m.
Early risers can attend Easter Dawn service, which takes place at 6:30 a.m., and enjoy the ringing of joyous bells that announce the first service of the day. The Easter Festival worship service, with three times to attend at 7:45, 9, and 10:30 a.m., begins with a grand processional into the church, with music provided by choirs, organ, brass, strings, and percussion. Attendees are also invited to join the choir in singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” Easter brunch is served in the neighboring Grace Center (250 E. Juneau Ave., Milwaukee) and guests can enjoy a bountiful breakfast spread featuring eggs, various meats, cheeses, bakery, and fresh fruit.
About Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church Grace Lutheran Church was founded in May of 1849. Located on the corner of Broadway and Juneau in downtown Milwaukee, Grace Church welcomes all guests and visitors to hear the Word of God. With over 1200 members and growing, Grace Church preaches the Bible as the authentic message of God and encourages its member to live God’s word daily in the mission statement “Glorify God by growing in his Word, gathering together, and going into the world with his Word.” Grace is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
(RNS) — “What are you giving up for Lent?” is a question Catholics direct at each other this time of year.
“Giving up” usually applies to food, in keeping with the church’s ancient practice of fasting. We moderns have found the idea of fasting can also apply to habits like television or social media.
Fasting is seen as a way of doing penance for sin as well as being united with Jesus, who spent 40 days fasting in the desert.
The practice of fasting during the 40 days of Lent used to be mandatory for Catholics, with no eating between meals. Also, breakfast and lunch combined were not supposed to be more than your main meal.
While fasting is not obligatory anymore, it is encouraged. We should, of course, put a priority on giving up those things we should not be doing anyway: smoking, drugs, pornography, junk food, too much alcohol, etc.
Doing something, rather than giving up something, is also an option— regular exercise for many people, including me, is a penance.
When the Rev. James Martin’s non-Catholic college roommates found out he was planning to give up something for Lent, they responded that he shouldn’t be the one to decide; he could cheat and pick something he didn’t care about anyway. So began a tradition of his roommates telling Father Martin what he had to give up each Lent.
The medieval rules for fasting had the effect of forcing the upper classes to eat like poor people, who, by comparison, were always fasting.
So, if you really want to get into the spirit of Lent, try surviving on what can be bought with a month’s worth of food stamps — which aren’t valid for alcohol or hot prepared foods. Give what you save to the poor.
Another way to update Lent to the needs of the 21st century would be a carbon fast. If we all cut our carbon consumption during Lent that would not only be a good penance, it would help the planet. Likewise, many churches are encouraging members to give up plastic for Lent.
Fasting is only one way to observe this ancient tradition. You can also choose to be nourished by the Word of God. The daily liturgical Scripture readings during the 40 days before Easter were specially chosen for the education of catechumens, those who wanted to become Christians.
To prepare for their baptisms at the Easter Vigil, the catechumens were invited to the cathedral each day, where the bishop would explain the faith to them using the Scripture readings.
In a sense, these readings were the original catechism of the Catholic Church, in an era before widespread literacy and mass-produced books.
They are a collection of the greatest passages from Scripture. For those who are already baptized, they are a refresher course in what it means to be a Christian.
Ideally, the best way to hear these readings would be to go to daily Mass during Lent, but if that is not possible, there are lots of ways to find the Lenten readings for yourself.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has them on its website. An app called iBreviary can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet.
Using the podcast New American Bible or NAB, you can listen to the readings while commuting or walking (exercise body and soul at the same time). Or you can have Alexa read them to you using her skill “Catholic Daily.”
I tend to listen to Alexa while going to sleep or waking up in the morning. She makes me laugh every time she mispronounces “responsorial,” as in “responsorial psalm.” For the last couple of weeks she was also having trouble with the Book of Sirach.
The NAB uses humans who don’t make these mistakes. You might even recognize your bishop’s voice every once in a while as bishops, priests and laity were used in recording the readings.
For a long time, sadly, Catholics were discouraged from reading the Bible, but today the church promotes the readings from Scripture.
The daily Scripture readings during Lent are a great way to reintroduce yourself to God’s Word. The word “Lent” means “spring,” a time for renewal and new birth.
Along with the sacraments, it is the Scriptures that renew us and give new life to the Christian community.
Whether you read or listen, the Word of God is essential to the Christian life. That is something to do for Lent.
Mosque leader calls hate watchdog group’s listing “slanderous”
Compiled by MCJ Editorial Staff
The Milwaukee Mosque of the Nation of Islam is on a list of 15 Wisconsin hate groups compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks and monitors U.S. hate and extremists organizations.
The Milwaukee mosque is one of three named groups based in the city. Nationwide, the SPLC identified more than 1,000 hate groups.
The leaders of the Milwaukee NOI mosque took exception to being on the list, calling it “slanderous.”
In a letter to the city’s Black community that was placed on his Facebook page, Student Minister William Muhammad, who heads theMilwaukee Mosque, Muhammad Mosque #3, said a Channel 58 news report, which included a picture of the mosque, placed them as “the face of hate to the public.”
“We do not take the escalation of this slander lightly,” said Muhammad in the letter. “In an environment of heightened racist violence and Islamophobia, to target our mosque could potentially direct misguided individuals to our location to do harm to the believers, our children, and guests”
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”-Psalm 25:6
Loneliness has been around since the time of human existence, however, lately research has soured on the issue of loneliness and thus has increased the attention on this subject. Let’s first get some sense of the magnitude of the loneliness epidemic, then conclude with the peak time periods for loneliness.
In a May 2018 U.S. News and World Report article reported that health insurer CIGNA found on the US Loneliness Index 46% of Americans report feeling lonely sometimes or always and 47% report feeling left out sometimes or always.
A little less, 43% report feeling isolated from others, and the same number report feeling they lack companionship and their relationships lack meaning. CIGNA calls those “epidemic levels.” There are certain symptoms identified by experts regarding loneliness.
The Symptoms of Loneliness
In the book, “#Loneliness: The Virus of the Modern Age” Selmi reported, when polled as part of a 1984 questionnaire, respondents most frequently reported having three close confidants. When the question was asked again in 2004, the most common response was zero confidants. Imagine the figures if this research was conducted today?
This trend is unfortunate, since experts believe that it is not the quantity of social interaction that combats loneliness, but it is the quality of human connection. In other words, having thousands of friends on Facebook won’t cut it, but having just 3 or 4 close friends is enough to ward off loneliness and reduce the negative health consequences associated with this state of mind. (#Loneliness: The Virus of the Modern Age, Tony J. Selmi, Balboa Press, Jan. 2016).
Peak Time Periods for Loneliness
Another U.S. News and World Report entitled: “3 in 4 Americans Struggle with Loneliness” (Dec. 2018) identified 3 peak time periods for loneliness according to Jeste and his colleagues using a 20-point loneliness scale developed at the University of California (UCLA).
• The late 20s when people are making choices that will affect the rest of their lives, such as their career, their choice of the life partner and where they will settle. This can really be a lonely time especially when one begins comparing themselves to others and begin feeling they aren’t doing as well as their peers.
• The mid-50s is a time when people are experiencing the mid-life crisis as signs of aging highlight the fact that their time on earth is limited. They see some of their friends dying and sometimes family members and they become aware more so of their own mortality.
• late 80s is a peak time period as it is a time of increased helplessness. Half of people at this age have dementia and their physical abilities are in decline. Often, they have lost their spouse and don’t have many people left around, either family or friends.
The U.S. News and World Report article went on to say additional factors that affect feelings of loneliness include time spent with family, sleep, employment and physical activity. Respondents who say they spend the right amount of time with their families, are well-rested, don’t feel overworked and get enough physical activity have lower loneliness scores.
Beloved, it is important to remember that being alone is not the same as being lonely. Many people choose to be alone. Many people are alone and lead very happy fulfilling lives. In fact, all of us should intentionally embrace times of solitude in order to grow in our relationship with God. There are, however, others who are empty, alone and feel unwanted. Pray for opportunities to reach out to the lonely souls in your corner of the world in an effort to lessen the burden of loneliness and thus assist in stemming the tide on the loneliness epidemic.
Next Month: Jesus – Our Living Hope Through the Resurrection!
General Disclaimer: The writer has used her best efforts in preparation of this information. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered. Neither the publisher nor the writer shall be liable in any way for readers’ efforts to apply, rely or utilize the information or recommendations presented herein as they may not be suitable for you or necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. This information is for educational purposes only. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, writeto her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.
Student Minister William Muhammad honored in Milwaukee
By Dwayne Muhammad
Recently, on a bitterly cold and icy night, registered members of the Nation of Islam, family, friends and supporters gathered to celebrate Student Minister William Muhammad’s 60th birth-anniversary at Suite Lounge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Also, the mosque raised funds for the Saviours’ Day Gift drive in 2019. Bro. William is the spiritual head of Muhammad’s Mosque No. 3 in Milwaukee and the state representative of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
The weather didn’t deter people from attending the celebration, even though a blizzard was gaining momentum full throttle within hours. An abundance of laughter was shared, a high level of conversation, heartfelt embraces and sentiments for Bro. William, who reached twenty-six years in the ministry.
Bro. William was being recognized for his leadership in the community, in addition to his twenty-nine years of service in the Nation of Islam. His courageous spirit is indicative of the training he received at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, where he joined the Fruit of Islam (F.O.I.).
He is a man who has sacrificed much in securing his family, while commuting long distance for years in between Chicago and Milwaukee. Bro. William is a frontline soldier, and is one of the 10,000 Fearless, who counsels as a liaison to resolve “Stop the Beef” issues between opposing parties.
He came to Milwaukee in 1993 from Chicago, his hometown, volunteering to do the work of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, in spite of being from one of the major hubs in the world. According to Grandmaster Anthony Muhammad, the Assistant Student Supreme Captain of the Nation of Islam, Chicago’s “Northern Flank [Milwaukee]” is the closest city to Mosque Maryam. The closeness of both cities (81 miles) has enabled Black Milwaukeeans to receive dignitaries for decades, upon the request of Bro. William.
Because of his dedication and commitment, several awards were presented to him, including a special plaque drafted at City Hall from the Common Council. Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton signed the plaque and the award was presented to Bro. William by State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Wisc). The council members include: Khalif J. Rainey, Ashanti Hamilton, Milele A. Coggs, Nikiya Dodd, Russell Stamper II, Mark A. Borkowski, Terry I. Witkowski, Jose G. Perez, Chantia Lewis and Cavalier Johnson.
Attendees at the celebration included: State Sen. Lena Taylor, Clayborn Benson (CEO & President of the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum), Josephine Hill (Director at Wisconsin African Women’s Center), Earl Ingram Jr. (News Talk 1510 AM radio), Activist Ray Mendoza (414Life/ Team Havoc), Hip Hop Activist/ Poet Muhibb Dyer, Activist and Educator Janette Herrera, Juneteenth organizer Torre Johnson, and a host of others.
Several community leaders and supporters spoke about Bro. William’s presence in Wisconsin. State Sen. Lena Taylor asserted that Bro. William is a “man that honorsfamily…Allah will bless you for your sacrifices you have made.
There are few people who go on the front lines in their ministry [i.e., murder of Dontre Hamilton and Sylville K. Smith killing].” Furthermore, Clayborn Benson mentioned that Bro. William made a “powerful” move by “protesting” in a Wauwatosa Police Department by himself that “earned his respect.” The incident happened two and a half years ago, when Jay Anderson Jr. was shot and killed by a Tosa police officer.
Simultaneously, the three killings were high profile cases that made the national news. It wasn’t a coincidence that all three were happening within a three year period, at a time when Black homicides peaked and Black male incarcerations rose in Milwaukee County.
On a much lighter note, Bro. William was given a beautiful painting by Sis. AnNura Muhammad of Muhammad’s Mosque No. 3. Her talent and artistic skill is imaginative, distinctive, alluring and thoughtful. The food was wonderfully prepared and cheerfully served by the M.G.T. & G.C.C. of the mosque. Sis. Athena Muhammad, a professional caterer, masterfully created a layered cake shaped like a rostrum with the top of the cake bearing Bro. William’s smiling face in a blue uniform.
The free event was the brainchild of Sis. Melissa Blue Muhammad, and her husband Shawn AKA “Gat Turner” Muhammad who were the main sponsors that made it all possible.
In closing, Bro. William thanked everyone who came and said he was “humbled” by the appreciation of love from the Believers and the community. “[I]f it were not for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, I could not and would not be able to touch the people I have.
By Allah’s [God’s] grace, I am striving to follow his example and guidance,” acknowledged Bro. William
Here’s what you need to know if you want your investments to match your values.
By Kayleigh Kulp, Contributor, U.S. News and World Report
Socially responsible investing has become a popular way for investors to put their money where their values are. Experts say faith-based investing is now following suit in popularity.
“The faith-based investment approach is predicted to grow, especially as companies see the socially responsible investing agenda as good business,” says Alexander Lowry, professor of finance at Gordon College in Massachusetts.
There are more than 250 socially responsible funds in the United States, of which approximately 40 would fall into the biblically or religiously responsible investing space, says Dwayne Safer, assistant professor of finance at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.
The funds help like-minded investors avoid putting their money into items and practices that don’t match their spiritual values – such as alcohol, tobacco, pornography, gambling and guns – by screening them out, he says.
Faith-based investing is based on the idea that how a business makes money is just as important as how much it makes, says Ben Malick, chief investment officer at Bright Portfolios, which offers biblical investments to clients in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
Faith-based investments exist across all asset classes and industries – and they control billions of dollars. Eager to get started? Here are a few things you should know before pairing dollars with dogma.
Do you want to invest for the greater good, a return, or both? Defining the impact you want to have with your faith-based investment is a good place to start. Investors who wish to follow the Jewish belief of investing in “tikkun olam,” or repairing the world, may choose to make investments without an immediate or monetary payoff, says Michael Kosowski of Herald Strategies in New York.
“My client, Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, has a course called the ‘Design Thinking Course,’ where students would design solar-powered, collapsible lights for students without electricity in South Africa,” he says.
“Eventually, the school turned this course into an Idea and Innovations lab, where students will be able to use sand blasters, laser cutters, 3D printers and more technology in order to improve the lives of others. The Popkin family specifically invested their money in the future generations of Jewish children. It really highlights a key part of faith-based investing.”
Other organizations have the mission of ensuring they do not profit from the abuse of others. The Christian Investment Forum, which comprises of investors and advisors, says that it is “committed
WASHINGTON (RNS) —When the 116th Congress was sworn in on Thursday (Jan. 3), it became one of the most religiously diverse delegations in American history, with more than a few lawmakers expected to take the oath of office while placing their hands on books other than the Christian Bible.
Still, according to a new survey from Pew Research, the incoming class of legislators is predominantly Christian — even more so than the country itself.
“While the number of self identified Christians in Congress has ticked down, Christians as a whole – and especially Protestants and Catholics – are still overrepresented in proportion to their share in the general public,” researchers wrote. “
Indeed, the religious makeup of the new, 116th Congress is very different from that of the United States population.”
The number of Christians in Congress is dipping slightly
According to Pew, 61 of the 281 Democrats or independents are non-Christian: In addition to 32 Jewish members, all Muslims (three), Hindus (three), Buddhists (two) and Unitarian Universalists (two) in Congress caucus with Democrats.
One Democrat — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — identifies as religiously unaffiliated. Eighteen “refused to specify” their religion, according to Pew.
By contrast, only two of the 253 Republican members in the 116th Congress — Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee — identify as something other than Christian (both are Jewish).
Pew did not include a representative from North Carolina’s 9th District, where election results have not been certified in the wake of electoral fraud allegations.
Many minority faith groups saw their representation increase this year after a wave of Democratic victories in the 2018 midterm elections.
The number of Jews jumped from 30 to 34, Muslims rose from two to three, and Unitarian Universalists ticked upward from one to two.
Hindus continue to claim three members of Congress, all of whom are returning from the 115th Congress.
Christian Scientists, on the other hand, lost both their members.
As for differences between the House and Senate, researchers pointed to one group in particular: Presbyterians make up 13 percent of the Senate, but only 3 percent of the House.
And if you’re looking for evidence of America’s increasing religious diversity on Thursday, keep an eye on Democrats Tulsi Gabbard and Rashida Tlaib as they are sworn in to the House.
Gabbard, a Hawaii Hindu and a potential 2020 presidential contender, is a returning member of Congress who has used a Bhagavad Gita while taking the oath of office in the past.
Meanwhile, Tlaib, a Michigan Muslim who will become the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, plans to place her hand atop Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of the Quran.
Finally, despite the media fervor surrounding the election of prominent Republican (and Mormon) Mitt Romney to represent Utah in the Senate, Pew researchers noted the percentage of federal lawmakers affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is declining.
“The 116th Congress also has the fewest Mormon members in at least a decade – members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now number 10, a low over the last six congresses,”they wrote.
—Jack Jenkins is a national reporter for RNS based in Washington, covering U.S. Catholics and the intersection of religion and politics.
This year we have the honor and privilege to celebrate 100 years of ministry as St. Matthew Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, “The Fruit Orchard on 9thStreet”. We cordially invite you to celebrate with us as our centennial theme is“Spirit of Hope: Hope Built on a Solid Foundation” (Romans 15:4b).
To mark this tremendous milestone, we will have themed celebrations each Sunday during the month of September capped off by our crown jewel event, a “Centennial Celebration Banquet” on Friday, September 7, 2018; starting at 6:00 p.m. This event will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Milwaukee Airport, 6401 South 13thStreet. Additional Sunday events, honoring our past, celebrating the present and preparing for the future includes:
September 2, “Communion Sunday” ⁕ September 9, “Friends/Family/Memorial Service”
September 16, “100thCelebration Service” ⁕ September 23: “Back to the Old Time Way”
September 30: “Community Sunday”
Our events will provide a historical perspective on the past 100 years of service to God through the work in our community, the city of Milwaukee and throughout the world.
St. Matthew was established in 1918 by Reverend W.S. Ferguson, our first Pastor. In September 1920, we moved to 538 West Walnut Street, where we remained for 38 years before relocating to our present site, 2944 N. 9thStreet (Sunday, February 23, 1958) Milwaukee, WI 53206.
St. Matthew is proud of its rich heritage and its efforts to be a changemaker in our community, as early as 1964; St. Matthew was part the fight for Desegregation of Milwaukee’s Public-School Systems. Its Christian influence in the community continues to provide outreach programs, such as “Feed My Sheep”, a Sunday morning breakfast program, The Milwaukee Community Brainstorming Conference, Koinonia Family Resource Center, a 501c3 non-profit program that assists in strengthening families and their needs in today’s demanding world. St. Matthew has worked to live up to its calling as a home where the saints of God can put their gifts and talents to work.
For more information visit our website http://www.stmatthew-cme.org/or contact the church office at 414-562-7580
By Hazel Trice Edney
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The Black church, among the most prosperous institutions in America, has long led movements for the spiritual, social and civic uplift of Black people. When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, he had just launched the Poor People’s Movement, which quickly fizzled after his death.
With this historic backdrop, the African Methodist Episcopal Church – with a legacy of leadership in its own right – has announced an innovative economic partnership with Black-owned banks across the country. The partnership aims to be a catalyst to spur business development, homeownership and wealth in the Black community.
“We are now pleased to announce a partnership with the presidents of the nineteen (19) Black banks in the United States, with the goal of increasing Black wealth,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, president of the Council of AME Bishops. “This initiative will strengthen Black banks across the United States and increase their capacity to lend to small businesses, to secure mortgages, to provide personal lines of credit, and to offer oth
Bishop Reginald Jackson, president,
Council of AME Bishops
er forms of credit to AME churches and our members. This, of course, includes enabling members and their families to become homeowners.”
Bishop Jackson made the announcement during a press conference held during the 2018 Council of Bishops and General Board Meeting in Atlanta June 26. The specific details of a memorandum of understanding are being formulated and will be announced this summer. But the goals are as follows:
· Increase deposits and loans with Black banks;
· Increase Black homeownership to over 50 percent nationwide. This means 2,000,000 more Black homeowners than now exist; and
· Grow the number of Black businesses from 2.6 million to 4 million and total gross receipts from an average of $72,500.00 to $150,000.00.
“The spirit in which you all have shared the commitment to the community, to the banks and to what we can do together is outstanding,” responded Preston Pinkett, III, chairman and CEO of the City National Bank of New Jersey and chairman of the National Bankers Association. “Thank you for your willingness to step outside of the norm to
Preston Pinkett, chairman,
National Bankers Association
do something that I would say is extraordinary here in America and extraordinary in the world.”
Pinkett says the church-bank partnerships are already beginning around the nation. “It is safe to say that this kind of commitment; this kind of demonstration will go a long way in supporting our banks and the banks to be able to support the community…With God’s blessings, we will accomplish great things.”
Amidst an atmosphere of excitement, the bankers, bishops and supporters of the movement packed into a meeting room in a Downtown Atlanta hotel. Jackson was surrounded by all 20 Bishops of the 231-year-old denomination as well as supporters of the movement. They included principals of the growing economic movement, Black Wealth 2020, which Jackson credited as inspiration for the idea.
“This partnership grows out of an initiative formed in Washington, DC in 2015, called Black Wealth 2020 which is providing an economic blueprint for Black America,” Jackson said.
Michael Grant, one of the founders of Black Wealth 2020, presided at the press conference. He connected the new partnership directly with the movement begun by Dr. King.
“The great civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others has now morphed into a full-fledged movement for economic empowerment,” Grant said. “The offspring of African slaves and their unrewarded labor have catapulted a small Colonial outpost into the greatest industrial giant the world has ever known. Now, as a people, we are turning our efforts toward our own enrichment. We must now create those economic opportunities for ourselves.”
Opening the press conference, Grant underscored the historicity of the moment. “For those of you who are students of history, you would not be surprised that the Church of Richard Allen would be leading an effort to close the wealth gap across the United States of America.” Allen, among America’s most influential Black leaders, founded the AME church in 1794. It was the first independent Black denomination in the U. S. “And we do this with malice towards none,” stressed Grant.
Bishop James L. Davis, of the Second Episcopal District, likened the partnership to a marriage – a marriage between a church and its community. “It is a marriage that says a church that is concerned about its people, concerned about the good and the bad, all of the things our people have had to go through.”
The prophetic voices of Black church leaders not only articulate ideas, but strategies.
“In the next decade in the global church and in the AME church and in Black banking, we will see both evolution and revolution. Banks must reinvent themselves, not just to respond to the pressures of the day, but to be flexible enough to adapt to the world of tomorrow. The ecclesia, the church, must also evolve its business knowledge, educational platform, and its missional thrust without losing its stance in the Word of God,” said General Board Chair Bishop Vashti Murphy Mckenzie. “Both of our institutions are dealing with increasing assertive governmental intrusion, hig
Bishop Vashti Murphy Mckenzie, General Board Chair, AME Church
her membership and customer demands along with increasing change in the wider world.”
The announcement of the new partnership was met with applause from national civil rights leaders.
“Thank you and your fellow bishops for making economic development a priority of your denomination,” wrote civil rights icon Georgia Congressman John Lewis in a letter to Bishop Jackson. “Hopefully, your visionary leadership will inspire other denominations to replicate your efforts nationwide.”
National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial also weighed in with a letter: “I want to express the support of the National Urban League for your leadership and initiative in addressing the challenges of Black homeownership and the need to increase the support, viability and profitability of our African-American businesses,” he wrote.
Morial is among economic leaders who have determined that among the reasons homeownership among African-Americans is disparately low is, in part, because of discriminatory lending practices.
Mortgage Banker Lois Johnson, president/CEO of Salt Lake City-based United Security Financial, said she takes “great pride in our HUD designation as a fair practice lender. We provide loans to all who meet the minimum criteria, especially people of color who have been denied the opportunity to have their own homes.”
Johnson, who is licensed to operate in 49 states, says she intends to travel to each of the AME church’s episcopal districts to “create hope and opportunities.”
The principals agreed that the key to the success of the partnership must be mutual respect for Black spending power and mutual support of Black businesses.
“We hear about Black folks have a trillion dollars in spending power,” said Ron Busby, president/CEO of the U. S. Black Chamber, Inc. and co-founder of Black Wealth 2020. “But that’s usually White folk talking about our dollar sand how can they get their share of it. We came together to say how can we deal with the Black wealth, the gap of it and really to move our agenda forward inside our own community.”
Busby pointed to the USBC’s new AP called the USBC Mobile Directory with 109,000 Black-owned businesses in order to help consumers make targeted purchases inside the Black business community.
Robert James, CEO of the Carver State Bank in Savannah discussed how the movement will be sustained. “There was a time that no church got financed in Savannah Georgia unless we financed them at Carver State Bank,” James said to applause. “This program will get us back on the path.”
James says he knows the relationship can be sustained because the bishops have authority to oversee and encourage AME church leaders to do business with Black-owned banks. “We can talk to the Bishops about those local churches. And you can talk to your elders and your preachers,” he said.
Bishop Jackson underscored the fact that the U. S. partnership is only the beginning. He indicated
Bishop Reginald Jackson, president,
Council of AME Bishops
that the movement will also expand abroad. “The possibilities extend throughout the Diaspora. The African Methodist Episcopal Church has over 4,000 churches in Africa, the Caribbean, West Indies and Europe. These churches and members can also benefit from this partnership,” he said.
To augment this expansion, Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, ambassador for the African Union, spoke to the Bishops the day before the press conference, promising to encourage Africans in America to also put their deposits in Black banks. She stressed the need for Black-owned institutions to unify, cooperate and not turn on one another.
“I hope we will all come together and support the idea of putting all of our money in Black banks. I have already taken the initiative and listed all of the Black banks in the country on our website,” Chihombori-Quao said. “I’m already encouraging all Black people when I do presentations to say we’ve been stupid for too long. We drive past Black banks to give our money to people who don’t give a hoot about us. And they take our money so they can get rich; not only here, but in Africa. We’ve got to change this.”
Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, ambassador for the African Union, addressed the Council of AME Bishops the day before the press conference.