Black Church:Reflecting on the the role on church within the Black community.
I grew up in a predominantly, if not entirely Black community. We had clinics, convenience stores, clothing stores, night clubs and speakeasys (my great-grandfather owned and operated one), laundromats, and so much more. Today, we only have the remnants of those structures, if they have not been destroyed or left as empty lots.
These changes, this devastation, did not happen in the dark. We were all here for it.
I started to think about what I longed for as a adolescent, what I really saw, but could not put words to at the time. It was willful disengagement, a sense of disassociation. It's all that I could feel; that someone felt it was not their part to play, that their role was to watch and not take part. But watching is taking part, an inactive role that allows the wave to crash.
While this was happening the churches within the community grew, new ones were built and new building funds started to maintain those new spaces, along with the old. The housing projects changed management, but nothing improved, no upward mobility was established. Community members, lifelong congregation members, were forced to hold a fish fry, bake sale, or another alternative as way to fund a proper memorial service.
I started to ask myself, why is the church here, aside from shepherding the congregation into the house Jesus built? If the nine churches aren't starting community gardens that become a community farmer's market; if they aren't buying the housing projects to provide upward mobility for the residents trapped in a cycle of poverty; if the church is not acting as a job fair; if it isn't paying the bills for the elders of the community; if it is not acting as the resource that it is, what is it here for?
The church, in many Black communities, is the heart of the community. Yet, in so many communities, the heart never circulates the blood it's fed. Humans are given a single heart at birth, but many Black communities have upwards of seven hearts. How is it that so many communities still seem to need a transfusion?
All these hearts pumping in so much of the community's lifeblood.