Photo by Susan H
In some churches, members are find themselves in a sea of unfamiliar faces, outnumbering the congregation itself. Signs have been posted, “No photography, no flip-flops, no exiting during the sermon”.
Tour companies are listing churches for foreign visitors to New York City so they can experience sermons from black preachers and hear black gospel choirs. Pastors see both a blessing and problems.
Struggling to preserve the sanctity of the service visitors are asked not to leave once the sermon has started or not to take pictures during worship, requests that are sometimes ignored. “I understand that you’re visiting and you want to have a memory of it,” said Carlos Smith-Ramsay, who has been a church member for years. “But when we ask you to stop and you continue to do so after the fact, that’s disrespectful.”
Gospel singers by Gloria Bell via Flickr ~ used under CC-BY license
Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church has become an attraction for tourists from all over the world and is the oldest black church in New York state, membership that once included black leaders such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Paul Robeson. On a given Sunday almost 200 seat are filled with visitors and the collection basket with dollars.
In an interview with the Associated Press, The Rev. Gregory Robeson Smith, Mother AME Zion’s pastor, said he refuses to work with tour operators. He doesn’t even like to use the word “tourist,” preferring instead to call them part of his “international congregation.” And he won’t turn anyone away.
“I refuse to commercialize the church worship experience,” he said. “You don’t pay people to experience the Lord, to come and pray. I think that’s unconscionable.”
Near by Abyssinian Baptist Church, another house of worship popular with the tourists, often turns away visitors because the pews are too full.
Options are divided, some would say that people are just coming to see a show, like on TV or in the movies. Others would like to believe the tourists have come to listen to the word of God. Either way the tour guides will continue to lead new visitors to the steps of the church and each visitor will have their own reason for being there.
Posted in News |
March 1st, 2012 by admin
Rev. Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, will be nominated to become president of the Southern Baptist Convention
Pastor Luter began his career as what he fondly refers to as a street preacher, spending his time preaching on different street corners in New Orleans “Lower Nine” area where he grew up. In 1986, the members of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church elected him pastor even though he had no pastoral experience. Under Pastor Luter’s leadership the church has grown from a membership of 65 members on roll to its current membership of 7000 plus worshipers.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the world’s largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members as of 2010. The SBC became a separate denomination in 1845 following a regional split with northern Baptists over the issues of slavery. After the American Civil War, another split occurred: most black Baptists in the South separated from white churches and set up their own congregations. Today the once all-white denomination of slaveholders and segregationists, has a membership of 16 million and are one of the most diverse denominations in the United States. Almost 20 percent of Southern Baptist churches are predominantly African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American or other minorities.
“Our election of Fred Luter as the first African American president of the SBC will send a great, hopeful, powerful message to our city, our culture, our convention and our country,” said current president David E. Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans.
The national convention is scheduled for June in New Orleans.
source credits and quotes:blogs.orlandosentinel.com, www.tennessean.com, wikipedia.org
Posted in News |
February 29th, 2012 by Black Gospel Choir
October 17, 1711 – before 1806
Jupiter Hammon was a Black poet who became the first African-American published writer in America when a poem appeared in print in 1760. He was a slave his entire life, and the date of his death is unknown.
He was living in 1790 at the age of 79, and died by 1806. Hammon was a devout Christian, and is considered one of the founders of African American literature.
Hammon was born a slave and was owned by four generations of the Lloyd family of Queens on Long Island, New York. His parents were both slaves. His father, called Opium, and unlike most slaves could read and write.
On September 24, 1786, He expressed his views on slavery when he delivered his “Address to the Negroes of the State of New York”, also known as the “Hammon Address”, before the African Society. Hammon wrote the speech at age seventy-six after a lifetime of slavery. It contains his famous words, “If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.”
The speech draws heavily on Christian motifs and theology. For example, Hammon said that Black people should maintain their high moral standards precisely because being slaves on Earth had already secured their place in heaven. Hammon’s speech also promoted the idea of a gradual emancipation as a way of ending slavery. It is thought that Hammon stated this plan because he knew that slavery was so entrenched in American society that an immediate emancipation of all slaves would be difficult to achieve. His speech was initially published by the New York Quakers, and was later reprinted by several groups opposed to slavery, including the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, because the strong religious motifs and ideas of gradual emancipation were moderate enough to be taken seriously by whites, but still firmly rooted in abolition.
Hammon’s famous speech and his poetry are often anthologized. The first known African American to publish literature in the US (several years later in 1767, Phillis Wheatley had published her poems, but in England, not the US), Hammon was a favorite servant, clerk, farmhand, and artisan in the Lloyd family business. Hammon was allowed to attend school and was a fervent Christian, as were the Lloyds. His first published poem was written on Christmas Day, 1760. “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries: Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen’s Village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760″ appeared as a broadside in 1761. Three other poems and three sermon essays followed. In Hammon’s “Address to the Negroes of New York, to the African Society,” he said that while he personally had no wish to be free, he did wish others, especially “the young Negroes, were free.”
Posted in Black History |