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CLOSE  During the early years and height of the Civil Rights movement, the black church was often considered the heartbeat of our communities. Rallies, protests, and community meetings were held in places of worship to discuss current social and sometimes political issues that affected neighborhoods on a local, state, and national level. In 2012, can we really say  the black church is still a voice in our community?

The black church during the 1950s and 1960s was the place where leaders and social activists would gather to talk, give speeches, and inspire those who wanted change. As years went by and racially charged laws slowly changed, the activism of the church changed also. Over the years, the voice of the church has withered and for some the church’s voice is silent. Naturally there was a surge in social dialogue in churches when President Barack Obama announced his presidential campaign in 2007. Still, the black church was not as active in voicing change for communities as loud as before. There was a shift  in the church that didn’t focus on social movements, but rather building full congregations and service times. During the 1980s until now, the role of the church has been shadowed by growing mega-churches, prosperity preaching, and countless sex and money laundering scandals.

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While there’s nothing wrong with mega-churches, now you have churches more concerned with modeling themselves after these mega-churches instead of being instrumental in planning and conversing about our failing school districts. Instead of becoming a resource for struggling families, the offering plates come around one too many times. While it’s understood that money is needed to fund churches and their staff salaries, is there just as much service being offered freely for communities?

The church’s voice in the community is important. There are citizens looking to see where the church will stand on social and political issues. Politicians and public figures should be flocking to churches to speak, touch, and engage with people. Many of them simply don’t because the church has distanced themselves from taking a stand on certain topics. While there are churches that have become distant in social commentary, during the recent Trayvon Martin protests, some churches took an immediate stance. Middle Collegiate Church in New York made headlines when the congregation wore hoodies in support of the arrest of George Zimmerman. This is an example of what local communities need to see from the church. Progressiveness and an effort to come together with the community to effectively change the status quo. Dr. Martin Luther King, who was a Baptist minister said it best: He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it.  He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

words by: Valerye Griffin – (@valmarie)

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