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The Dichotomy of the Black Church

When we begin to make a change, we must first make up in our minds and our hearts to do just that: change. There must be a level of commitment. In being committed to change, it involves us taking stock of our present condition; understanding where we are at, and how we got there. It does a person injustice to only forge ahead without learning from the past. What good does it do a person to learn algebra, and they have not even mastered addition and subtraction? It would make no sense. So why would we try to make a change, if we don’t know and recognize what caused the symptoms that we are trying to alleviate?

There are lessons to be learned from the past. It is not always easy to accept failures as it is to triumph and bask in successes. It is not appealing to look at the bad things, which can often be disheartening . However, those things—just as much as the good things— are apart of our learning; so that we may not repeat past mistakes, but learn and grow and move forward. For the many that have succeeded, there were times of failures first. The difference between those that succeed and don’t?—their willingness to learn from what didn’t work, and the audacity to not give up.

The Dichotomy of Black Life series was written to stimulate and to promote dialogue; not only amongst one another, but also to ignite an internal dialogue within ourselves. Its intent is to open one’s eyes to what’s in their heart and what they have to offer and can learn. We not only learn from our mistakes; we can learn from others‘ mistakes and success, as well.

The dichotomy of classes has long been a stronghold that needs to be broken. There was a time, when no matter where your station in life was, there was a place that was always neutral: the Black Church. It didn’t matter how much or how little you had; you were always welcomed. But as with many things, differences arise and circumstances change. And with that, even our places of worship were not immune.


What is the most segregated time in America? Sunday morning. Churches divided based upon race is no big surprise. Although, more integrated churches can be found than ten years ago. An even newer trend seems to have hit many houses of worship; church divided along the lines of socioeconomic status.

Solid. Strong. Immoveable. Responsible. Safe. Dependable. Life-line. These are just a few words used to describe the Black Church—at one time. It’s no secret that the church has been under heavy scrutiny of late. Why? What is going on in the church that has so many people up in arms, declaring they don’t want anything to do with the, Holy roller-Bible thumping-hypocritical-so-called-church? Perhaps that is quite harsh, and not a fair generalization to make. All churches are not the same. Just as all people are not the same.

The Black Church has for many years stood as a symbol of faith and unity. It symbolized our belief, our strength, our determination to go on, no matter what came our way. No matter what circumstances arose in our lives or communities--the church remained at the core of the Black family. It [church] was the place we not only looked to for spiritual fortitude, but for counsel, direction, and at times, food, clothes and shelter when necessary. The Black church—an integral part of the Black family—was the safety net. This is where we came together, got organized, and made things happen.

When we were slaves, we had our faith. When we didn’t know how to read, many learned through the reading of their Bible. It was the church that kept everyone abreast of what was going on in their community; what rights that they needed to fight for. When we did not have a political voice and were fighting to obtain one; it was the church that help find and fight for our voice. It was the black church that formed and birthed out many of our Political leaders and Civil Rights activists. Many, at one time, having been a Minister. In the black church, God and Politics went together. And it was incumbent upon the church leaders to make sure its members received everything that was due them. And that they always had a safe and sound place to come together.

As with many areas of life, the church has grown. And with it has come some growing pains. Many older churches have succumb to dwindling memberships and to the new way of doing things. Today, one has a plethora of churches to attend. Often being able to choose from five different houses of worship in just one block! Yet, with so many churches in one community, communities remain plagued with poverty, disunity, strife and bitterness; many times, churches going against one another. Where is that spirit of old that had church bodies coming together and forming alliances to make sure that their communities were cared for, and received everything that were due them?

Have we’ve come so far in achieving our own personal goals that we have decided that we no longer have to look out for one another? Does it still stand that we are our brother’s keeper? Or, can we no longer be bothered with the mundane tasks of making sure every community receives what they need to make a difference in their lives.

It is wonderful to see houses of worship grow and expand, and afford to build and maintain structures that make many amenities available to its members. But it is a shame when the structure becomes more important than its members or communities....
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The Dichotomy of Black Life
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Content copyright © 2015 by Ruthe McDonald. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Ruthe McDonald. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ruthe McDonald for details.


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