New Agenda for African American Churches

In Lawrence Jones’ assessment of the state of African American churches, he addresses the changing social environment around black religious life and exploits how the outlook of the churches has lead to a sort of institutional inertia. African Americans in general have less of a need for spiritual enlightenment, gifts or services, or education subsidization. They do however, thanks in part to the new secular attitude of urban church goers, African Americans recognize the institutional significance churches can play and want more organization within the churches themselves and for the churches to take on more of an active social role. He argues that churches should become concerned with the well being of the youth, especially inner city youth where moral values are lacking and there is a need for structure and guidance. The church should be an advocate for the “family structure” and should become active agents in helping communities better themselves. This shifting of agendas seems like the latest of many as the churches scurry to catch up with the time and once again people call on the church to play a greater social role when their lives are subject to poor times. Anyways, this is the last blog post for this class so I don’t know if we need a discussion question but mine would be asking how much of a social duty to its community does the church really have?

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Times Have Changed

The reading in Sernett this week said that it was written in the 1980s, which would be 30 years ago today. Seems a little outdated, and perhaps things have changed more since then, but I believe Jones makes a couple interesting points. Not that I can claim in any manner to know the full history of black churches across the U.S., but the previous ideas of first spreading the Gospel, then helping those in need, procuring proper education, and finally going out as missionaries, do seem slightly outdated, the way he states it (Sernett, 580).

Of course as a church, Jones is right that the gospel should remain part of the mission and helping those in need should always be a staple. It was different to see how he showed that many churches were more or less disregarding the idea of helping others, but that the church was going through some changes regarding this phase. I guess I thought that churches were always helping people in need, not only those in their congregations, but outsiders as well. Education, while still not entirely equal for everyone, as much as we might claim it is, will always be important, but the government has taken responsibility for the education of all students, black, white, Asian, etc. Finally, church mission, the need for mission has been changing, and has most definitely changed since this was written. Where to go, who to talk to, how to incorporate and respect the other culture and belief system without giving up on your own mission are important questions that must be asked. What is the culture of black churches now concerning all these previously stated ideas? Has it really changed?

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African American Religion in the Post Civil Rights Era

It was interesting to read about just how much impact the church has had in African American history. The Sernett chapter notes the common ground between African American churches and churches in general. Both of their interests are the same in terms of involvement in education, giving, and mission work. This goes to show  how we’re all connected. It looks at our humanity, rather than the color of our skin. It’s also important to note how churches have served as the base for the African American community, especially in the case of the Civil Rights movement. Finally, I think it was intriguing as well to read about how there is no designated “black church.” Rather it is a more general terms, as there are a variety of different denominations and congregations. This clears up the common misconception that there is a solitary “black church.”

Discussion Question: How would the Civil Rights movement have differed without the support of churches? Would it have gained the same ground?

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Last Blog Post Ever!!!! (well for now)

      The first agenda of the early black American congregations were addressed and explained how they were beneficial at the time. Society never stops changing and therefore the social welfare has grown so rapidly that it became difficult to almost impossible for the churches to fund the cause, so government assistance took over. It was a concern to be eligible to further their education (black community) but they were able to do so creating multiple schools through churches and through the community. It was clear to everyone that the message being conveyed is that even though societies and economies are constantly changing, what they church’s stand for, DO NOT change. Churches are still well respected and valued in communities but for other reasons than what their first “agenda” used to be to house schools, cultural events, social welfare events, ect. The need for black “meeting” spaces have declined after the civil rights movement. Also, the term “black church” is frowned upon because congregations are not only for blacks, they are for everyone. But black churches lack fully developed administrative structures so it is difficult to go forward and analyze their given resources based upon budgets, members, and number of pastors. It is upsetting to predominantly black communities that the support for denominational programs are only addressed to foreign missions, theological education and occasionally a college. Unable to expand the national church structures (due to lack of financial resources) Afro-American religious communities are slowly declining. In this area the commonly known funded projects are Head Start Schools, daycares, and tutorial programs. I actually volunteer at head start over the summer very often so that is neat, I never knew that. It’s interesting to see the projects in motion.


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Week 14 post

I think in the reading  “The Black Churches: A New Agenda” by Lawrence Jones, it is important how he talks about continuing the traditions of the black church with the generations to come. He talks about the lack of centralization within modern churches and how it causes churches to be segregated within themselves. I think this is so important to touch on because times are changing everyday but it is vital to remain educated about the history of the black church. The union is what made it stronger than ever & that is what must continue to happen in order for the black church to stay alive. Black people in the present day should know exactly what took place back in segregation days to show them what it means to stick together at all times and encourage one another to rise to every occasion.

black church

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Week 14- Final Post

In the Sernett reading, “The Black Churches: A New Agenda,” I was happy Jones discussed the “black” church’s roles in establishing schools for African American students. Although most of these institutions are found in the South, they spread across the country and have played a key role in history. I also was intrigued by Jones proclaiming, “that there is no “black church” in the conventional understanding of that term. There are denominations, composed of congregations of black persons and under their control, and there are countless free-standing congregations, but there is no one entity that can be called the black church” (pg. 582). I had never considered this before and it made me really think about the history of what we label as “black churches” in this country. How do we determine what a “black church” is in this country? How have we labeled them and made assertions as to what the difference is between a “church” and a “black church.” I think Jones is bringing up an important topic. This is a very interesting piece.

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The “New” Agenda

A bold statement that stood out to me on the The Black Churches: A New Agenda reading from Sernett was Jones’ assertion that, “It is important to perceive that there is no “Black Church” in the conventional understanding of that term.” I understand that he was saying that there is no entity that stands as a Black church, but I think he was inferring something a little deeper. As he wrote about all of the shortcomings of the “Black Churches,” it was hard for me to understand how he would outline a way to make it seem better. He would use words such as lack, failure, deprivation, and inhibitions, which to me felt like he was using in a derogatory manner. I can understand that he is simply outlining the obstacles that were to be faced. Or maybe that was his end goal, to make the “Black Church” seem so desperate that he had to be the one to change it. Once again, I don’t wan to sound like I do not like what he was doing, I was simply making an observation about the manner in which Jones was writing. I think that he was going about the procedure the correct way, but I feel that it could have been formatted and worded differently to sound more clear about his intentions for the creation of the legitimate agenda.

Contrarily, I like how hopeful he seemed for the future of the “Black Church.” He wrote, “The existence of the churches in not in jeopardy. While, he seemed to be outlining the agenda for the progress and advancement of the “Black Church,” he also seemed to be lending advice rather than being straightforward, which in my opinion would have been in accordance with the way he wrote about the problems facing the “Black Church.” His writing seemed to be an instruction of evaluation of what the church should be doing differently. Another concern that I had was with the way in which he still spoke of the problems while he was giving his suggestions for the agenda. He was continuously saying things that mist not be done. All in all, I feel that he didn’t achieve his goal of establishing a “new agenda.” I further feel that he could have been far more specific in his construction and it would have been more helpful. This is purely opinion based on the reading.

My Question: How was this work originally accepted and what was done after it was publish and made available to the public?

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Final Blog Post (so sad)

“Through the storm, Through the night” by Paul Harvey– Epilogue, “Righteous Anger and Visionary Dreams”

Reading the Epilogue of Harvey really shows how dated Sernett really is.  Its mention of Kanye West really through me off, however, Harvey made a valid point in mentioning him.  Kanye is someone who is very influential to our youth, and that is the generation that many African-American church-going folk are worried about.  When I went to an African-American Baptist church this semester, there was a very heavy focus on converting the youth and making sure there were lots of things going on for the youth like plays and community activities. Harvey is smart in incorporating several types of people when talking about influential black people.  This reaches to more people, and I found myself more intrigued by his mention of rappers and Barack Obama.

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Black Church-Sponsored Universities

One of the points made in Lawrence Jones’ “The Black Churches: A New Agenda” was that a key role black churches played was establishing educational institutions for African-American students. These are referred to today as HBCUs, historically black colleges and universities. Most of these institutes are found in southern states where racially integrated colleges or universities would be nearly impossible to find from the end of the Civil War up until at least the Civil Rights movement.

The oldest HBCU is the Augusta Institute in Georgia, founded only two years after the end of the Civil War by the Springfield Baptist Church. Today it is known as Morehouse College. Other churches followed suit to meet the needs of their congregations. Most of these institutions are private today, but no longer are exclusively for African-American students. It is safe to say that all have reached the level of white institutions of the same sort, assuaging a fear Jones had about the quality of education at church-sponsored as opposed to state sponsor schools.



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Looking to the Future

I rather enjoyed this week’s reading from Sernett. Personally, I’ve always felt that the spiritual is always at the center of the societal, and therefore the spiritual is the foundation for what we make in the world. The world is constantly changing, so must the world of any spiritual organization of community, be it church or otherwise. This is something which I’ve felt is prominently lacking even in today’s society, for the tenets of religion are to be interpreted and put to appropriate usage, and what was practical once will fade and need to be renovated and reinterpreted.

Moreover, the selection reiterates the most important aspect about not only African American religion, but religion and spirituality as a whole. It exists for the good of one community or another and as such the needs of the community must always remain central to its task and goal. This not only means helping the community find meaning and light in such dark times, but also seeing to the benefit of their temporal needs and desires. In total, as put here, “to survive humanely in inhumane circumstance”.

There is also much importance in keeping what is spiritual alive, for just as what is spiritual is necessary for the maintenance of the societal balance, so is the rallying of the spiritual amongst the youth a vital necessity to maintain the very existence of the spiritual itself.

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