Encountering the Pastor
Taking on the preacher
Name of Interviewee:
Pastor at Greater Bethany Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
1) How does your church and ministry serve the community surrounding your church?
Well, we try to serve by way of Evangelism and introducing or sharing God or Christ in our ministry. Ministering to the needs of the community, like the hunger situation. Providing our youths with positive self-esteem in the community by positive enrichment hour on Wednesdays. Also by participating with ecumenical groups in the community with MPUL once a month and other groups that we share community interests with.
2) What kind of educational programs currently exist in your church?
Usually religious education such as classes on understanding the bible and through voters education. The importance of being registered to vote. Of course general religious educational standard things such as Sunday School and weekly bible study. Workshops periodically throughout the year such as leadership training workshop, etc.
3) To what do you attribute the growth of your church and churches in general?
We attribute the growth of this church to love for God and love for people and demonstrating that love by doing good deeds.
4) Recently there has been a growing division between Black Ministers who preach a ‘prosperity gospel’ and those who preach the prophetic gospel of ‘social justice.’ What is your opinion on those two gospels? Are these two different gospels totally incompatible?
Right, they are totally incompatible. In fact, its the truth. The whole prosperity gospel counters the whole mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, who does not espouse wealth. It goes against the traditional view of Jesus Christ. Not to say he was against person who have economics and wealth. The gospel of Jesus Christ our resurrected Lord is different. It is more about love and a relationship with Jesus Christ and demonstrating that faith in your everyday walk in life.
Now the prosperity gospel a kins to negate teachings on sin and shortcomings, the social gospel and social issues. All together how to obtain, attain and maintain wealth that is totally counter to what Jesus Christ’s life, ministry, and message was all about. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all his righteousness and all the other things will be added, so says Jesus in the scriptures.
5) Is addressing the needs of the disadvantaged an essential part of the mission of the church? How does your church address the needs of the poor and disadvantaged?
Yes, it is an essential outreach piece for the ministry of Jesus Christ. We do a small effort. The disadvantaged and the oppressed and the least of these, take for example Vine City, the need is so overwhelming. The need is so great.
Well, for this church at least, we try to take on a small piece and address that particular portion of it. What we do in terms of feeding, counseling, and non-medical detox is just a portion of a response to the situation. The needs are so great, for an example, there is a need for jobs, training for jobs, how to prepare for an job, how to pick out a home, and how to ensure a loan?
The needs are tremendous. Having a sense of respect for oneself and our own self identity with our Black heritage. Those needs don’t get addressed. So the disadvantaged and the poor in this particular area is just overwhelming. There are women issues, there is a crime issue, my goodness. Issues of the need for police protection.
6) Should the unique culture and history of African Americans be taken into account when ministering to African Americans? Please explain your answer. Is there a place in the church for raising political awareness? Do you favor the government using churches for faith based initiatives?
Sure, we should take our unique culture into account, because there is none out there like it. The Eurocentric/Asian/Hispanic and other cultures are being represented. We have to take into account our timing, and our need for identity, love and respect as a people. Taking into account one’s culture is crucial in ministry and to the people of God.
Sure, there is a place for political awareness. To ignore the need for political awareness and the political need is like sticking our ear in the sand. Political issues and political decisions affect the church. For example, one’s income, services in the community, many times it is all political. It is based on the political stances. To ignore it would be to the detriment of the church itself.
No, if the government offers assistance I welcome that, but personal I don’t believe in that because you will be hold to Caesar. There is stipulations to receiving that help like not abiding by their rules and stipulations you could jeopardize your current church. For example, with the 501C3, all the requirements that have to be met in order to get 501C3 and the paperwork. It could be a detriment to the Church.
7) What must the Black church do in order to more effectively transmit strong morals and values to combat violence, crime, high dropout rates and poverty in the Black Community?
Well, that’s a tough question. The church must work collaboratively with other churches and agencies in the community. Don’t try to take it own by oneself its should be a community effort, because the needs are so tremendous and overwhelming.
Crime and the whole nine yards shouldn’t be tackled alone would be an improvement, but would not be wise. The black church should look to do things collaboratively with others. There should be a sharing of resources and that would be a way of addressing the situation.