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Black Pastors Preaching the Message of the Resurrection and the Legacy of Dr. King

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968

the Easter season, and while many pastors are focused on crafting sermons and hosting events, others are equally concerned about King’s legacy on the anniversary of his death April 4, 1968.

“This election is one of the most critical elections in history,” said Rev. Gerald Durley, the retired pastor of the Provident Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. “This is an election to preserve Democracy in America.”

Durley, 82, is preaching and speaking more than ever because, he said, if former President Donald Trump is elected, it will set Civil Rights back 60 years.

“All of the marching that we did was to ensure equality and equity was in place,” Durley said. “Dr. King lived and died so that the check of Democracy would not be marked as insufficient funds."

Durley said while the Black church has a great history, the battle for Civil Rights is far from over. “We have had a lot of Moses, but we need more Joshuas,” he said, referring to the younger leader who brought the children of Israel closer to the promised land.

From Atlanta to San Francisco to Washington, DC, many pastors are preaching the gospel as well, challenging their congregations to not only hear the Word but to be doers.

“It's sad and very troublesome,” said Amos Brown, pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco. “The crucifixion wasn't about self-serving personal salvation. It was about good being delivered for all human creatures. That's why the Roman government put him on that cross…He was a social justice Christ. He cared about the marginalization of women. There were chauvinists back then as there are today,” Brown said. “Democracy should be for everybody."

Rev. Barbara Skinner,  who works with the organization Faiths United to Save Democracy, has been  busy  educating potential voters. 

“While faith leaders cannot tell people who to vote for they can educate them about voting” said Skinner. She stressed the importance of "Preparing church members to vote having reviewed with them weeks prior what’s at stake and what’s in the ballot.”

“There are  19 steps to take before voting so people are ready to vote,” said Skinner. She referred to the website, for a  toolkit.

Rev. Dr. Ben Chavis, a veteran Civil Rights activist, said while Easter is about the Resurrection of Jesus, there needs to be an “Economic Resurrection” in Black America, and that starts by going to the polls in November. 

During Black History Month, The Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III was formally installed as president and CEO in a ceremony in downtown Dallas, replacing Jackson, 82, who announced in July that he would step down.

“I stand not in his shoes but on his shoulders, and because I stand on his shoulders, I hope you stand with me,” Haynes told those gathered during the service.

“How appropriate it is during Black History Month that we look back… but we look forward to a great future,” said Dr. Haynes immediately after taking the oath. He thanked those who mentored him, including Rev. Jackson, who he compared to baseball legend Jackie Robinson, opening doors for so many African Americans who came behind him.

As Civil Rights veterans yield to a new generation of pastors, they also employ new strategies and techniques.

Rev. Tony Lee, pastor of the Community of Hope African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Temple Hills, Md., said, the greatest importance of the church during this season is not just political power but moral authority. “We need a moral authority, a voice that stands for humanity, a voice that says that we are all God’s children,” he said, comparing those that Jesus called “the least of these” to “the left out” of today.

On March 26, 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and activist Malcolm X met for the first time. Rev. Grainger Browning, pastor of Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, reflected on that date to say that today, “We need to come together.”

“The ongoing Civil Rights organizations are not as visible as they used to be, but it is important that some way during this Easter season, we have a coordinated effort to begin some strategy as to where we go from here,” Browning said. “I have faith in the resiliency of the African American population.”

Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta said, “I hope that Resurrection will look different in America in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Bryant said. Referring to the COVID pandemic that killed and sickened millions around the world, Bryant said, “The second pandemic is hopelessness.”


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