Tag Archives: pastor howard john wesley

“Daddy, Am I Next?” The Best Sermon You’ll Hear On the George Zimmerman Verdict

“I have a racial consciousness to know that in situations like this, it typically does not work out in our favor… I want to take race out of it – I want to live in a world where I’m not judged by the color of my skin but by the content of my character  – but the reality is that I have to look at this through the eyes of a Black man.” – Pastor Howard-John Wesley, Alfred Street Baptist Church

It’s been a little over two weeks since we were forced to swallow the bitter, rancid pill of the Trayvon Martin verdict.  Of course, the trial was supposed to be about George Zimmerman’s killing of this child, but we all know how that story played out.

The Sunday morning following the verdict, I attended my church because like many African-Americans around the country, I wanted spiritual context to explain the unexplainable concerning the outcome of the trial, and the dilemma of racial injustice that is prevalent in our present-day society. Having joined Alfred Street Baptist Church a few years ago precisely because of the incredible teaching style of the Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, along with the collective strength and dignity of the congregation as a whole, I had no doubt that he would provide a moving yet intellectual sermon for how we as a community need to move forward.

As I sat in on Pastor Wesley’s extraordinary sermon, ‘When the Verdict Hurts’, I have to admit that the wound from the verdict was still too raw for me to truly ‘hear’ the greatness of this word.

And then I listened to it again. 

While this sermon has been lauded nationally  – by Time Magazine and it will be included as one of two sermons by Pastor Wesley at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens on the National Mall in 2015 – its power lies in the realness of the word, both in content and delivery.

That said, here are some of the reasons you need to push ‘play’ and marinate in this sermon:

1. It’s deeply passionate without being overly emotional or theatrical.

2. It is not a call to anger, it’s a call to practical, thoughtful action.

3. The sermon acknowledges our pain and confusion without absolving our community of our own responsibility to help change the dynamics for our youths.

As you listen to this powerful sermon, keep in mind that it is part of a set of sermons that started last year shortly afterTrayvon was slain. The accompanying, four-part sermon, “A Rizpah Response” is phenomenal as well.

“My greatest dream for my sons is that they live.” – Pastor Wesley

Leave No Gays Behind: Gay Marriage and the Civil War Within the Black Church

There’s a civil rights battle brewing in this country today, one that again places African Americans at the center of the storm. This time, however, the fight is not along racial lines, instead its about sexuality – more specifically, homosexuality and gay marriage.

Gays and the Black church have always had a very complicated relationship. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has long been the unspoken gospel for many years. But as gay rights has risen to the forefront of many congregations, church leadership across the country has been forced to take a clear stand on their support or opposition of gay marriage.

Yesterday’s national press conference with prominent African American pastors and other leaders on both sides of this issue highlighted just how divisive gay marriage has become, and indeed, it may even have a devastating impact on the upcoming presidential election. While the press brief did not receive widespread, national coverage, this was one of the most important press conferences that will occur in these weeks and days leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

The anger that rose up when President Obama spoke in support of gay marriage was very disturbing on many levels. Aside from the vitriol and self-righteousness, some Black pastors have even gone so far as to advise their congregations to ‘stay home’ not to vote at all in the upcoming presidential election because of the President’s support of gay marriage. Needless to say, not only is that type of ‘spiritual guidance’ reckless, it’s uninformed and destructive. Voting in any election has far more significance than a singular issue. And no rational person I know would allow one topic to define their political choices.

Gay rights and gay marriage are not simple issues to most Christians – exponentially so in the Black church. Still, regardless of one’s views, it’s difficult to understand opposition to gay, civil unions and equity in gay relational partnerships in the eyes of the law. The pastor of the congregation I attend supports gay, civil unions and indeed, one of the things I admire most about my church is its openness to everyone. ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’ is something gay rights opponents should meditate on in their bibles. Am I saying that being gay is a sin? That’s not my call to make. But I’m also saying that the Good Book teaches that judgement is not ours.

Who knows how this will ultimately play out for the election, but rest assured that the repercussions are going to be with our community for years to come.

As an end note, I sincerely look forward to the day when Black pastors display this type of courage to fight for the poor, for struggling and often separated children and families, and our youth – people who are invisible to most – from the pulpits to the White House. 37 people shot in 30 minutes less than a month ago in Chicago, many other urban areas suffering from waves of gun-violence that kills so many – mainly Blacks – that no one bothers to discuss it beyond tweets, and blighted conditions in ‘communities’ that rival third-world countries. These issues won’t get the ‘sexy’ media coverage, but they do matter – more than anything else right now.

Check these videos to see the latest on gay marriage and civil unions in the Black church .   In the first clip,  Al Sharpton, Pastor Howard-John Wesley of Alfred Street Baptist Church, and others share their position on gay unions as a civil right for all Americans:

The following video features clergy staunchly opposed to gay marriage:

Make your own decisions. And VOTE.