“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
I recently had the opportunity to attend the play “Church Diary: Letting Go of Sacred Secrets and Private Wounds.” The play, adapted for dramatic presentation by Elder Jermaine Reed and Mary Coleman, was performed at Destiny Youth Plaza.
From the onset of the performance Elder Reed made clear that there were certain issues that the play sought to deal with directly. Those issues included but were not limited to: financial abuse, sexual abuse of children, ‘pastor worship,’ marital infidelity and clergy misconduct.
As a Christian and a pastor, I admit I was both intrigued about how the topics would be broached and concerned that the church universal not be bashed as a result of the misconduct of a small percentage of corrupt leaders. I, however, found that the play was not only charming, but overall it provided a fairly balanced snapshot of some of the things that can go wrong when the wrong people are left to lead.
Elder Reed was also forthcoming verbally and in writing in the playbill about the reality that more children are harmed in their own homes and schools than they are at church. Further, he made clear that the purpose of the play was not to be critical of the church universal, but rather to publicly address issues that are too often ignored.
“Church Diary” opens with five characters writing in their diaries about the current events in their lives. The subsequent scenes in the play reveal how each scenario unfolds in dramatic fashion. The play was polished and the actors performed well. I am certain that as the play tours audiences will enjoy the storylines tremendously. The adaptation is so well written that the guest vocalist, while a nice touch, is not an essential element in the production.
I believe that people who attend church regularly will especially appreciate the play as every character represented a stereotypical church scenario or character type. The play created laugh-out-loud moments for the audience as people shared in the trials and triumphs of the characters. This play was a also a reminder of the depth of talent in Milwaukee that is often unnoticed nationally.
A portion of the ticket sale proceeds and a separate donation was taken for the AIDS Resource Center. The fact that people stood in line during intermission to donate shows that there is a clear willingness in the African American church community to be of assistance in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This demonstration of love, support and awareness debunks the myth that African Americans are unaware of the major impact of HIV/AIDS in our community.
Reed and Coleman did a good job of balancing the need to address the crisis of HIV infection rates, the effects of infidelity, and the issue of homosexuality without compromising biblical truth.
Many people do not understand that just because the church community does not advocate certain lifestyles it in no way reflects a lack of concern and love for those who practice them. Too often Christians are bullied and marginalized as “old fashion,” “out of touch” and “irrelevant” for staying true to biblical texts which forbid pre-marital sex, adultery and homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments. The truth, quiet as it is kept, is that Judaism, Islam nor Christianity permits sexual abuse, sexual misconduct or homosexuality among their converts according to their foundational texts.
“Church Diary” makes clear that people should be able to trust that their leader and their church congregations respects, honors and follows the tenants of the faith in word and even more importantly, in deed.
People indeed have the right to feel and be safe in church – yet church has not done its full work until the members in the pews are empowered to know that they have a right to be safe wherever they are. We are the workmanship of God and He has never called any of His children of any age to be abused or to be abusers.
This week, celebrate the talent that is in Milwaukee and prepare to see “Church Diary” when it comes to a stage near you.
Incarnation Lutheran Church, recognized as a beacon of hope in its neighborhood with a range of service, advocacy, and justice ministries, will conclude the celebration of its 95th anniversary with a festive church service on Sun., Nov. 18 at 9:30 a.m. at 3509 N. 15th Street in Milwaukee.
Having started with a tent service and picnic on Sun., July 8, the church’s 95th anniversary celebration will culminate with a service featuring Bishop Jeff Barrow of the Greater Milwaukee Synod. Dr. Dennis Jacobsen, Incarnation Lutheran Church pastor, will be the celebrant at the service that will feature performances by the Epiphany Praise Dance Team as well as the church’s combined choir.
The service will also include music by Al Johnson, one of the areas best-known trumpet players. Johnson earned a degree in music performance from Indiana University and he has toured with Count Basie, Maynard Ferguson, and others.
The church held its first service in a tent on the corner of 15th Street and Keefe Avenue (then called Davis Avenue) on July 8, 1917. The new congregation moved to a frame chapel in November of 1917, with the cornerstone for the current limestone church building laid on October 29, 1922. The congregation moved into the building on September 9, 1923.
For the past 95 years, Incarnation Lutheran Church has maintained an active presence in the community. Through major changes in the surrounding area, city, and country, the church has maintained its motto – “God Help us to be a Church that Cares.” In addition to providing a place of worship for its members and anyone who wants to participate, the church runs Bread of Hope, offering food, clothing, and spiritual support to those in need. In addition, the church operates a “God Bless the Kids Spot,” a weekly afterschool program for children in the neighborhood.
The church works with neighborhood groups to support projects through the “Holy Ground” program and with the broader community through the Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), a group that Incarnation Lutheran Church helped found in 1988.
President Obama reminded America that there was only one direction that he wanted to take us – forward. His battle cry caused me to reflect on what forward means for the believer.
We recognize that Christ died so that we can move forward in an abundant life – one that is full and rich in intangible ways and some tangible.
God wants you and I to move forward. We are not called to be stagnant, live defeated lives or be in a constant spiral of disgust, disappointment, failure and depression. God is sending a clarion call to the Christian Church universal to move forward!
F – Find your foundational truths. As Christians we have strayed too far from the foundational truths of the bible. Taking a stance for the beliefs espoused in the Bible may not be popular, but we are not called to shift with the winds of popularity, we are called to set and live a standard of holiness. It is time for us to get back to the Bible in an uncompromising way.
O – Offer assistance to those in need. We must make sure that we assist people who have been marginalized by poverty, age, racism, disability or educational disparities. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humblywith your God.” No matter how well things are going for us individually, we can never stop caring about those who are suffering. This goes well beyond Election Day – it streams into our everyday lives and how we show support to agencies such as Milwaukee Health Services, Goodwill Industries, Feeding America and others who work daily to assist people in need.
R – Remember the cost of where we are. Even in the midst of our jubilation remind those around you that a great price was paid so that we can move forward. Historically, generations of people suffered degradation, violence and death to allow us the privileges we so often take for granted. Spiritually, Christ died so that we can move forward from sin into life in Him. Both sacrifices, although vastly different – deserve appreciation ad respect.
W – Watch and Pray. Luke 21:36 tells us “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” While many blessings have been bestowed there are still many things happening around the country that are against the word and will of God that we must be vigilant to stand against. Even as we pray – we are called to watch or be aware of things that are happening around us.
A– Agree to work together. Too often we have failed to move forward because we refuse to work together to arrive at workable solutions. We have missed opportunities to enhance our schools, save money, reform our police department and revitalize neighborhoods because we can not agree even in principle to stay at the table as long as it takes to make sure the community wins – not just individuals.
R – Restore the family. In order for our nation, states, and communities to move forward we have to begin to restore the family. There is something amazing that God does within a functional family that shapes people long after they have left the home or parents have gone on to be with the Lord. A good family shapes its members for long term success that positively impacts the world and changes the lives of other families that they touch, regardless of the ever-changing legal definition of marriage. As Christians, we must unapologetically champion the cause of biblical marriage between one man, one woman for a lifetime. They aren’t changing principles for opinions at the mosque or the synagogue and it is time for us to stand just as strongly on what we believe regardless of public opinion.
D – Do. People are tired of Christians talking about what should happen, what should be, and what the world should look like. It is time for us to be people of action who do what we are called to do. This week, make a decision to move forward. Forward requires changes and it requires courage – but it is the direction that God has called for us to go even beyond the next four years.
Annual Harvest Time Conference
The Mt. Zion Assembly of the Apostolic Faith Church’s Ministries and Women of Vision & Excellence staff invite you to our Annual Harvest Time Conference November 9 – 11, 2012.
Dynamic seasoned speakers and workshop presenters to usher in the presence of the Lord, as we learn the importance of producing a harvest through the seeds of prayer, praise, and prophecy.
All services will b held at Mt. Zion Assembly of the Apostolic Faith, 4300 N. Green Bay Avenue, where Dr. Cora Parchia is pastor and Evangelist Monica Price is co-pastor.
A City Called To Worship
Please join us for praise, prayer, worship and song – giving God all the glory. Going before the Lord for such a time as this, we have been called to build God’s Kingdom! For four days we will go before the Lord.
Wednesday – November 7, 2012 @ 7:00 pm
Inter-Denominational Church of the One Lost Sheep
2567 No. 8th Street – Milwaukee, WI.
Host Pastor: Bishop Warren Kirkendoll
Thursday – November 8, 2012 @ 7:00 pm
Agape Love Deliverance Church
4716 West Lisbon Avenue – Milwaukee, WI.
Host Pastor: Dr. Joyce Marie Dixon
(Parking in the Rear)
Friday – November 9, 2012 @7:00 pm
God’s Hand Ministry
5401 No. 76th Street #107 – Milwaukee, WI. (Parking in Rear)
Host Pastor: Pastors Mickey & Roz McClinton
Saturday – November 10, 2012 @ 6:00 pm
God’s Hand Ministry
5401 No. 76th Street #107 – Milwaukee, WI. (Parking in Rear)
Host Pastor: Pastors Mickey & Roz McClinton
Fellowship Reception Immediately Following Saturday Service
For additional information, please contact Pastor Linda M. Words – 414-719-1371.
Have you ever met someone who made absolutely everything an argument? No matter what the case they not only highlight the worst part of the situation, but also manage somehow to add to the problem by finding fault, blaming others and creating layers of confusion.
These people are among the most challenging to work with at church and in secular situations. They only see the faults of others and have an amazing knack for making the situation worse by inwardly enjoying the strife that lies at the heart of a difficult scenario.
It is amazing how dealing with people who love conflict can draw you into the same place if you are not careful. Interaction with negative people can begin to affect you and literally cause you to walk into work, church or home anticipating conflict, negativity and an argument. As you put things together for a project, committee, or even a gift, you do so anticipating them finding something wrong with what you have done.
These broken, hurting and hurtful people are in our neighborhoods, places of work, churches and even our homes. As difficult as they are to deal with, God commands us to show love to them as well.
Psalm 34:14 says: “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” This verse prompts us to not only do the right thing, but to also follow the way of peace. To pursue something means that we are actively chasing it. How many times have you and I chased revenge, the last word or winning an argument rather than peace.
Sadly, many in the rising generations feel that seeking peace makes you “a punk” or soft. Yet, those who are older, wiser and have lived through battles – both spiritual and natural – can attest that seeking peace makes you a healthier and more balanced person. Living to argue and arguing to live makes one bitter and not better. It creates a hardened heart and removes the joy from what God determined should be an abundant life.
This week, ignore the foolishness and rise above the controversy the enemy brings; seek peace in every situation and once you find it – pursue it.
More than 35 years ago, the Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church and Migrant Ministry of the Wisconsin Council of Churches each offered various services to migrants in Wisconsin. In 1965, these church groups joined to form UMOS, Inc., a 501(c) (3), tax-exempt, private non-profit corporation in the State of Wisconsin. At that time, UMOS’ main purpose was to provide temporary childcare service to migrant families in a four-county area during the summer months. Funding was received from the federal government from the Office of Economic Opportunity to serve migrants in accordance with Title III-B of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.
During its second year of operation UMOS expanded its target area to 12 counties, and provided child care and adult basic education to migrant workers. And, in subsequent years more counties were added, broadening its services to 47 counties which remain the primary target area of the program. While all of the UMOS offices are located within this geographical area, services as needed are extended to other areas of the state through outreach.
After the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) was passed in 1973, funding for migrant farm worker programs was transferred from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the U.S. Department of Labor. Under CETA, migrant programs changed from supportive services for migrant families to employment and training programs preparing migrants for jobs outside the migrant stream. And, in 1983, CETA was replaced by Congress with the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA).
UMOS expanded its employment and training programs as the lead fiscal agent for the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services’ Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program on Milwaukee’s south side in the early 1990s. JOBS was the employment and training program funded through the federal welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), in order to assist welfare families to become self-sufficient through employment.
Today, UMOS offers diverse programs and services to diverse populations. UMOS’ mission is to provide programs and services which improve the employment, education, health, and housing opportunities of under-served populations. Currently UMOS operates programs to assist low-income individuals and families as they gain economic self-sufficiency. In 2007, more than $46 million in grant funds from federal, state, and local sources supported these programs.
Programs and services provided by UMOS are divided into four major categories: workforce development, child development, education and social services, which include housing, health promotions and domestic violence supportive services. In addition to these programs, UMOS sponsors and organizes a number of cultural and community events in Wisconsin.
UMOS’ long history of focusing on employment and training continues as it has become the operator of a “one-stop” job center. In June, 2001 UMOS opened the Latina Resource Center at 802 West Mitchell Street. The Resource Center provides domestic violence advocacy and prevention services for women, children, and families.
UMOS has been a good neighbor to the community and the populations it serves by continually re-tooled its focus to better meet and serve the changing needs of the community.
Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church will present a College Fair on Saturday, October 13 from 11:00 to 3:00 p.m. The College Fair is a ministry outreach of The College Ministry and Youth Department of Pilgrim Rest and will be held in the fellowship hall of the church, 3737 N. Sherman Blvd., Milwaukee. The College Fair is tailored for young people from middle school through high school who are thinking about attending college and are interested in finding out more about the different things involved in getting into college and succeeding in college.
There will be sessions where you can talk to representatives from different colleges and universities and college graduates and current college students share their insights and wisdom about what you should know. There will also be break-out sessions on topics such as maintaining your faith in college, deciding which college or university to attend, financial aid and scholarships, writing the application essay, taking the ACT/SAT, TRIO programs and precollege programs such as Upward Bound. This inside information should help you in providing an edge in the competitive process.
This event is free and open to the public. For more information, an application is available at the Pilgrim Rest website under events at http://pilgrimrest.homestead.com or call Linda Kincaid at (414) 305-0032, Arrila Eversley at (414) 292-5158, or Frank Wilson at (414) 464-5296.
One child has been killed and three seriously hurt, police say, in a grenade attack on a church’s Sunday school in the Kenya capital, Nairobi.
The attacker targeted St Polycarp’s church on Juja Road.
A police spokesman blamed sympathisers of Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamist militant group, angry over Kenya’s role in the UN-backed intervention force.
A mob later rounded on Somalis living near the church with sticks and stones in a suspected revenge attack.
Police chief Moses Nyakwama told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that 13 people had been injured in the revenge attack, in the suburb of Eastleigh.
Separately, two police officers were killed in an ambush in the town of Garissa, near the border with Somalia.
In July, 15 people were killed in raids on churches in Garissa, and there was speculation that al-Shabab or its sympathisers were responsible.
‘Running for their lives’
Reports suggested a number of those hurt at the church were injured in a stampede after the attack.
“These are the kicks of a dying horse since, of late, Kenyan police have arrested several suspects in connection with grenades.”
The authorities said three children were seriously hurt in the attack, and a number of others suffered lighter injuries.
The Red Cross had earlier said six children were critically wounded.
Irene Wambui, who was in the church at the time of the attack, said: “We were just worshipping God in church when suddenly we heard an explosion and people started running for their lives.
“We came to realise that the explosion had injured some kids who were taken to hospital and unfortunately one succumbed.”
Senior Nairobi police officer Moses Ombati appealed for calm after youths reportedly attacked the nearby Alamin mosque.
Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa have suffered a series of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia last October.
The attacks in Mombasa escalated after radical Islamist preacher Aboud Rogo Mohammed was killed in a drive-by shooting in August.