You got a progressive, congregational church or you don’t. Maybe yours is old-fashioned, with uncomfortable wooden pews and stained-glass windows, a massive organ at the front and a pit for the choir behind.
Every week, 50 or more believers gather and listen to the minister preach from scripture. Maybe your church sings a lot — the choir is talented as ever and the songs – classics.
Every week, there’s a few minutes set aside for folks to shake hands with others and a basket gets passed around for tithes. Members of the congregation ask for specific prayers, and the everyone listens and claims to pray for them.
But what if a man asks for prayers for his brother’s husband — ut oh, the LGBT issue is front and center, what do you do? Do you scream hell or punishment? Do you pray for them? Someone’s getting an abortion, how do you address it? Church used to be clear on these issues but not so loving. The youth want to know where does your church stand on the issues of today?
Many youth don’t feel your church is ready to deal with todays world, so they don’t visit your church and they don’t ever intend to. Does your church offer what millennials are looking for?
It’s no secret that in America that organized Christianity is going through a crisis.
The number of self-identified Christians is at its lowest point ever, at around 71 percent. This trend is most noticeable among millennials and congregations have been struggling to put em back in the pews.
Churches try in many different ways, most of em ineffective (hosting performances by Christian Rap or Trap groups), some hilarious hashtags (#JesusLives) and a few downright sad (like listing guidelines for churches to achieve what he calls “The Cool Factor.”)
So what were they missing?
Many youth are simply not interested in church, organized religion or religion in general. But there are huge numbers of millennials that are open to organized religion, and in fact are yearning for a church that they feel comfortable devoting their time and spiritual energy towards. But they want it to mean something. They want more than just a group of people to sing songs and hold hands with. Those millennials that are open to such things are the same ones who are active and engaged in the world around us, which, unfortunately for mainline denominations, includes politics.
Millennials are not interested in a celestial Jesus with a permanent smile and open arms, unconcerned with the goings-on of planet Earth. They’ve heard about that Jesus their entire lives, and they’re not buying it.
Do you know what millennials would buy? Jesus the man, Jesus the prophet, the Jesus that fashioned a whip of cords and overturned the tables of the money changers for making God’s house a den of robbers. The Jesus that challenged the establishment and paid the ultimate price. The Jesus that took up the cross of the poor, the weak, and the marginalized in the name of God.
Many spend an hour and a half at church week after week and the name “Jesus” isn’t mentioned a single time. I think it’s safe to say…that’s not good!
They’re all for love and a personal relationship with God, but they choose to follow the man who teaches that political action is worship, that social justice is love.
What millennials are looking for is a church that preaches not just transcendental love, but that prophetic fire and love for the common man that makes Jesus so appealing.
A church that stressed this aspect of the faith would be dangerous, to be sure. It would even come off as somewhat divisive to the unspiritual. It might not even work as the long-lasting most popular denomination. But the inconvenient truth is that all of those attributes feel a lot like the Jesus of the bible!
Choir at Lamb of God singing during the recent Wisconsin General Baptist State Convention, held at Lamb of God Baptist Church. (photo by Yvonne Kemp) (At left) Dr. Robert T. Wilson, Sr., president of the Wisconsin General Baptist State Convention, Inc. (At right) Rev. Louis Sibley III, “President- at-large” for the Wis. Gen. Baptist State Convention, Inc. (photos by Yvonne Kemp)
Lamb of God Baptist Church, 8415W. Bradley Road, recently hosted the annual address of the president of the Wisconsin General Baptist State Convention (WGBSC), Inc.
The address was delivered by Dr. Robert T. Wilson, Sr., president of the WGBSC. The theme of his address was, “Solidarity with the Savior: Strengthening the Local Church from the Field to the Temple (Cor. 3:5- 11).Also addressing the gathering of local Baptist ministers was Rev. Louis, III, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, who is “president-at-large.” Lamb of God is pastored by Rev. Christopher Boston.
Christian Faith Fellowship Church will host a festival specifically geared towards family. Join us Friday, August 16th, Saturday August 17th and Sunday August 18th.
Christian Faith Fellowship Church (CFFC) will host its fifth annual Family Fest. Family Fest incorporates fun activities that enhance family relations and build community morale.
With free grounds admission, there’s great opportunity for everyone to participate in an array of carnival rides, games and live entertainment.
Food vendors provide great tasting “festival foods” such as the traditional funnel cake, nachos, and fun snacks for children.
Last year, Family Fest hosted over 3,000 attendees. Some of our main attractions this year are the Resource Fair, the Mobile Digital Mammography Center, a very exciting REVERB young adult worship experience, a water balloon fight, Kohl’s Wild Theater, the all new “Sunday Soul Food Dinner,” and a car show for all car lovers.
It is with great excitement that we present to you Family Fest 2013.
Bring your family and friends to Destiny Youth Plaza, located on 76th & Good Hope Road Friday August 16th from 5:00pm-10:00pm, Saturday August 17th from 11:00am-10:00pm, and Sunday, August 18th from 1:00pm-9:00pm.
For more information please call (414)760-2332 or log on to www.chrisitanfaith.org.
Send your church announcements, special events and community celebrations to email@example.com for publication in the Milwaukee Community Journal
Redemption Fellowship Church to host resume workshop
Redemption Fellowship Church will host a resume and interviewing skills workshop. Topics that will be addressed during the workshop include: basic interviewing techniques, interview “best answers,” body language, interview attire and also how to build an effective resume and cover letter.
DATE: July 20th
TIME: 9am – 12 noon
PLACE: Redemption Fellowship Church
3500 North 26th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53206
PHONE: 414-875-WORD (9673) or www.redemptionfc.org
The workshop is free of charge. We are asking anyone who is interested to please call the church to register by leaving their name and number; a representative will contact them.
Church Women United (CWU) Milwaukee Unit, held a Life Membership Recognition Day as part of its April general meeting recently at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 2207 N. 2nd St. Approximately 169 Christian women from 16 area churches of various denominations were recognized for their contributions to their faith, church and community. CWU is a national ecumenical movement of Christian women witnessing to unity and faith in Jesus Christ through worship, study, action and celebration. CWU celebrates the diversity that enriches the faith community by rejoicing in their oneness of Christ, which transcends differences and empowers Christians to work together for a society of peace and justice. The CWU Milwaukee unit was founded in 1921 as a channel through which Christian women might serve the community in endeavors no single denomination could undertake alone. (Photo by Yvonne Kemp)
On Easter Sunday our church was packed. We even filled the balcony, which is very unusual. It felt really good looking out at all those faces as they sang, listened to God’s Word being proclaimed, and finally, came to the Welcome Table to receive the rich sustenance that is offered in the form of bread and wine. We sang our hearts out and proclaimed that “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!”
And Jesus was present in us as we recalled our great dignity as baptized children of God. Yes, the Risen Christ was not far away or just a figment of our fertile imaginations. It was so good to be together and to celebrate the great victory over death. And yes, we will continue to celebrate that miracle whenever we come together and break bread and share God’s Word. That is why we call every Sunday a “little Easter.”
Last Sunday we proclaimed the Good News from John 20: 19-31. The little flock was gathered in a locked room. They were scared. They were all subject to the same fate as Jesus. And, they must have been so sad not only to recall Jesus’ horrific death, but that they had abandoned him! What was left for them? And then, the unspeakable happened, He came to them, and even more amazing, He said “Peace be with you.” And he said it again so that they would believe that he had forgiven them for running away. He brought no recriminations, no desire to chastise. Only PEACE.
Could this be the central teaching of Jesus? Could his coming into this world have been to stop the on-going desire for revenge? From the cross He said; “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Now he greets his followers who had abandoned him, with “peace.” No more retaliation, no more revenge, no more scapegoating. Jesus was the Forgiving Victim.
Have we learned? Many of us have not learned. We still lash out at people who hurt us. We still take revenge when we can. We still speak negatively about others who we feel have wronged us. And we do this knowing that we are one of the followers of Jesus who has received “peace” from our Lord and Savior. But we are not able to accept forgiveness for ourselves nor are we always able to forgive others.
Remember when Jesus came into the locked room he showed his friends his wounds. He was truly the one who died an innocent man. He then gave peace and breathed the Holy Spirit on them and asked them to forgive others.
This is our Easter joy: We have been forgiven; we have been given the Holy Spirit and the grace to forgive as we have been forgiven. Christ has risen!
Photos and question by Yvonne Kemp
Beverly Hassel: “I went to my girlfriend’s husband’s funeral. I went to church with my great grandson. We had an Easter Egg Hunt and gave baskets to the kids. I then had Easter dinner with family and friends.”
“Watch Night Service” in the Black Church in America symbolizes the historical fact, that on the night of Dec. 31, 1862 during the Civil War, free and freed blacks living in the Union States gathered at churches and/or other safe spaces, while thousands of their enslaved black sisters and brothers stood, knelt and prayed on plantations and other slave holding sites in America — waiting for President Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation into law. The Emancipation Proclamation legally recognized that the Civil War was fought for slavery.
One hundred and fifty years later, African American Christians continued the faith tradition of their enslaved ancestors and gathered at a designated meeting space, the church, to celebrate; they are the survivors of a people who were defined in the U.S. Constitution as three-fifths human, shackled in chains and denied the right to vote.
One hundred and fifty years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, across denominational lines, African American Christians will join with family members and church members to pray and thank God for allowing them to survive the oppressive Voter Suppression ID laws that were created by states after President Barack Obama was elected the first African American President of the United States.
These Voter ID laws mirrored the unethical, racially discriminating poll taxes and voting tests which were enacted after the Civil War.
Like other black churches in America, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago offered two “Watch Night” worship services.
Thousands of children, women and men will united in the Spirit of the Lord in the Sanctuary, while other members and guests from as far away as New York, Oregon, Vietnam and Australia participated in Trinity’s “Watch Night” service at www.trinitychicago.org.
The Men’s Chorus and Sanctuary Choir led the intergenerational virtual congregation in “Look Where God Has Brought Us.”
It is a tradition in the Black Church in America that five minutes before midnight, men, women and children will kneel, hold hands and pray to God from the present year into the New Year.
One hundred and fifty years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law, on Dec. 31, 2012, African American Christians engaged in their prayer posture, and will reflect upon the fact that approximately 11 million Africans were enslaved during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, where 10-20 percent of them died on the slave ships, and the exact number of enslaved Black children, women and men killed or died during slavery will never be known.
And the choir sings:
Look where God has brought us,
look how far we’ve come,
we’re not what we ought to be,
we’re not what we used to be
Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord,
for what You’ve done!”
by Richard G. Carter
“I’ve searched and I’ve searched, but I couldn’t find, no way on earth to gain peace of mind…” The Orioles, “Crying in the Chapel” (Jubilee Records-1953)
This time of year, holiday-oriented original Black rhythm and blues from the golden era (1953-63) is well-represented. And since many vintage performers cut their musical teeth singing in church, some of the most memorable songs invoked a spiritual flavor.
The Black R&B vocal group best known for its holiday sound was the iconic Orioles, whose emotional “Crying in the Chapel” made them a household name. This trend-setting aggregation also worked high-harmony magic to perfection on standards such as “Oh, Holy Night,” “The Bells of St. Mary’s” and “In the Mission of St. Augustine.”
Led by the incomparable Sonny Til, the Orioles were among the first early R&B group to appear in major venues such as the New York Paramount Theater and on TV with stars like Perry Como and Nat King Cole. These gigs afforded them the opportunity to use a lighter touch as well as croon holiday-style tunes such as “Chapel in the Moonlight” and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve.”
But there’s little doubt that the greatest of all original Black R&B winter holiday songs is the original Drifters’ upbeat “White Christmas.” Featuring an unforgettable bass lead by Bill Pinkney, it’s one of many hits by the original Drifters led by the legendary Clyde McPhatter. This record — and that group — was one of a kind.
In December 1954 when the record was released, I can attest to the absolute sensation it created in Milwaukee’s Black community. In addition to Pinkney’s boom-boom bass and McPhatter’s soaring top tenor refrain, the tune concluded with an awesome display of tight harmony in a lyrical bridge to “Jingle Bells. To wit:
“May your days, may your days, may your days be merry and bri-i-i-ight, and may all your Christmases be whi-i-i-ite. Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…”
While some cynics said this “White Christmas” would cause its writer, Irving Berlin, to turn over in his grave, the Drifters’ doo-wop treatment of the all-time holiday anthem gets heavy play year-after-year. And it sounds as good as ever today.
Perhaps this is because the original Drifters — who gave us the likes of “Honey Love,” “What’cha Gonna Do,” “Money Honey,” “Adorable” and “Ruby Baby” — helped mold R&B into a viable, marketable commodity. Yet, despite many personnel changes over the years, with David Baughn, Johnny Moore, Rudy Lewis and Ben E. King taking turns singing lead, this sensational outfit kept making great records.
One more thing about the Drifters’ bouncy, foot-tapping “White Christmas.” Like the Spaniels’ upbeat 1958 version of “Stormy Weather,” the ‘50s Drifters demonstrated the versatility of golden era R&B performers who breathed new life into old standards.
Pookie Hudson and the Spaniels — of “Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight” fame — also hit big with 1956’s spiritual-like “You Gave Me Peace of Mind.” After mounting a comeback, they made “Santa’s Lullaby” in 1968 — one of the finest of the holiday genre.
In the latter, Pookie’s smooth-as-silk lead and precise phrasing painted a perfect aura of Christmas Eve in yet another of the 200 songs he wrote. His inspiration was an asthmatic daughter who eagerly awaited the arrival of Santa Claus.
Billy Ward and the Dominoes — featuring McPhatter, Bill Brown and later Jackie Wilson — were best known for “Sixty-Minute Man,” “Deep Purple” and “Stardust.” In 1952, they had a holiday hit on “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano.” Other Yuletide tunes include Jerry Butler (sans the Impressions) on “Little Red Shoes”; “Ronnie Spector (sans the Ronnettes) on “Creation of Love,” and “It’s the Time” by the Chi-Lites
The nonpareil Moonglows gave us a Christmasy recording of “Starlite” (1955), in a prime example of their fabulous “blow harmony.” Indeed, these vocalizers — Harvey Fuqua, Billy Johnson, Pete Graves and Prentiss Barnes, with the great Bobby Lester on lead — were phenomenal, their likes almost certainly never to be heard again.
Whether or not you believe in Santa Claus, it’s nice to know that the creativity of original Black R&B — the real thing — lent itself to something more meaningful than “Jingle Bell Rock” or Elvis Presley’s dreadful, off-key “Blue Christmas” in 1964. Ugh!
No recounting of holiday music by vintage Black artists would be complete without a bouquet to Cole’s version of Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song” in 1946, with the King Cole Trio. It became an instant classic with his solo 1960 rendition. To wit: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”
Although a far cry from R&B, this one is as good as it gets. Even better. My favorite by a white artist is Frank Sinatra’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” — heard in the shattering firing squad scene in 1963’s “The Victors.” And, of course, there’s Bing Crosby’s smooth “White Christmas” (1942) — one of the top selling records of all-time.
Finally, Christmas carols and novelties. The latter include “I Saw Mommie Kissing Santa Claus,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Don’t Be Late” by Alvin and the Chipmunks.
But for vintage rhythm and blues purists like myself, there is nothing like original Black R&B at Christmas time — and all year long. Happy holidays, ya’ll.
Richard G. Carter is a freelance columnist