“With all that is going on around social justice, churches must calibrate what that means for them in the present,” said the Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce, a black professor and dean of the Howard University School of Divinity. “Churches have to ask the fundamental question: ‘Are we going to be at the forefront of struggles for justice, or are we always going to be catching up to where the arc of justice will literally take us.'”
“The one thing that would be dishonorable for us is to bring all this attention to the assassination of Dr. King (fifty years later) and not have a resurrection of the efforts and the unfinished business dealing with systemic racism, systemic poverty,” said Dr. Barber, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C.
The black church was the stabilizing institution which emerged from the horrible pit of slavery after the Civil War. Black pastors then became the preeminent leaders and spokesmen for both the Christian and non-Christian community alike. These pastors focused themselves on meeting the needs of individuals, preaching messages, building self-esteem of an oppressed people and addressing the concerns of their communities in a segregated society.
In the the 1950s and 60s, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. added a new role for black pastors: that of being a prophetic voice demanding the freedom of God’s people. They then became social justice warriors, too.
It’s hard not to look at the roles that black pastors fill in their communities and then not shake our heads in wonder and amazement at what they have accomplished. They have been the glue that has held Christianity together in America’s inner cities.
But even so, we need to remember that Moses never led Israel into the Promised Land. It was a non-priest named Joshua who completed the task.
So, will a Joshua generation of leaders rise up to lead the inner cities into their divine destinies?
(Continued in Part 6…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)