My conclusion after nearly four years : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

After four years of typing on this board I reached some conclusions today, none of them encouraging.

I've been persistently bewildered by the reactions to my posts. I could never understand why so many of them brought such violent responses. I've posted some of these same things on other Christian boards, and not once did they elicit any hostility.

I never had any malicious intent, and always tried to make myself clear. I used a variety of approaches from serious to inspirational to humorous to challenging to teasing. Sad to say in four years we never managed to really communicate. My constant questions were, "how did they get off on this? Why can't they see this? It's so clear to me."

At the same time I'm sure some of you wondered why I could never see what was so plain to your eyes, and try as you might (insults and cheap shots aside) I'm sure you were just as bewildered as to why I couldn't understand what you were saying. Believe me, I tried.

I decided today that it really is not possible at this point for large numbers of outsiders to understand the mind of those in the African American church. I also believe it's impossible for large numbers of those inside the black church to really understand the mind of those on the outside. We just talk right past each other. Perhaps in a generation we'll start to speak the same language, but at this time I truly believe it's not possible on a large scale. We simply see the world too differently.

This is not good news. The largest effect is the black church will always be segregated from the rest of American Christianity. Try as we might to speak to each other and work together, the black church will not integrate with others, even those who hold the same theological viewpoint.

I've witnessed this personally on many occasions. I've been involved with many interchurch activities. Black people have been present, but never in the numbers that are representative of their population. From Promise Keeper rallies to citywide prayer meetings those from the black churches have only been present in handfuls.

In fact many of the black people there don't attend traditional black churches. They attend multi-ethnic Full Gospel churches like mine, and show up with a large group of white and Hispanic companions. I'm even aware of the pastor of a black Baptist church who has attended these events with no one from his church joining him. It was so sad.

This is tragic because we truly are headed for an end times revival that will likely outshine the Book of Acts. I'd like the black church to be part of it. God would too. If it comes in my lifetime my church and I certainly will be part of it, but I fear the black church will exclude themselves from it.

I never realized any of this until I started conversing with you all on this board. In four years I've observed a number of factors that will always keep you segregated, by your choice, from your brothers and sisters in the Lord.

1. There is a profound distrust of Christians outside the black church.

2. The American black church has a very real though possibly unconscious desire to keep separate.

3. These tendencies are fed by a constant rehearsing of past abuses by white people. Call it black history, the civil rights movement, or whatever, as long as this practice continues the black community will never "get over" slavery and Jim Crow as the rest of the Christian community is doing. There will be no healing, and no unity.

4. Celebrations of black culture and history hold little interest for those outside the black church. In fact those in other churches are bewildered as to why this is part of the activities of black churches during regular church services and Sunday School.

5. Freemasonry might have a role as well. I don't know about all non-black churches, but in much of the evangelical movement freemasonry is considered absolutely demonic. We're shocked when we find how deep a hold this has in the black church. It would be illogical to think the spirits of freemasonry don't have some kind of a blinding effect.

6. The enemy of our souls has lied to the black church about their fellow Christians, and the lies have been largely accepted. THIS IN PARTICULAR has poisoned the minds of black Christians toward their fellow believers.

Because of these factors I now no longer agree with the very concept of African American denominations or churches. If the population of an area is black, then the populations of the local churches will be black. That's fine. I also know there is a need for non-English speakers to have places they can worship, so things such as Spanish, Korean, and Chinese speaking churches will always exist.

But after four years I'm convinced the idea of an ethnic centered church for its own sake is obsolete, and has become harmful to those participating. I realize the reasons these churches were started. Slavery and segregation made it necessary. But there came a point where a line was crossed, and the factors I mentioned above became ingrained. The black church became stuck in the past as far as race relations go, while the rest of the American church has made apologies and moved on.

I think the statement made about Jesse Jackson could apply to the bulk of the African American church: "For Jesse it'll always be Selma, 1965."

These are not off the cuff comments. They were arrived at after four years of experience. I'm fully aware most of what I've said is offensive to many, but it is written with a heart of concern for fellow Christians who I believe to be in real danger. I don't believe most who read these comments will understand them the way I intend, but some might. For their sake I must make the effort, and urge them to prayerfully consider joining a church outside of what is commonly called "the African-American church".

I'll close with an exhortation: Don't be an African-American Christian. Just be a Christian.

-- Anonymous, June 20, 2004


RP said:

"I decided today that it really is not possible at this point for large numbers of outsiders to understand the mind of those in the African American church."

RP, it is not about you. Notice your writings how each statement begins with "I". You need to walk a mile in a black man's shoes. It cannot be done on this board. It has to be done in person. You need to establish a face to face dialog with a several black folk. Invite them to your home; accept invitations to their homes; continue this for a period of years; pray that God will open your eyes so that you can see yourself; kinda like Isaiah the prophet "In the year that king Uzziah died. . . " Stop looking for what is wrong with the black church and look inside yourself. That is where the answer lies.

African Americans or black folk if you will are just as diverse as white folk and can be categorized in the same categories. We are not a monolith. Think about this: What if I told you that I am not black but white; would that change your perception of the posts you have read from me? If so why?

-- Anonymous, June 20, 2004

RP Said:

"This is tragic because we truly are headed for an end times revival that will likely outshine the Book of Acts. I'd like the black church to be part of it. God would too. If it comes in my lifetime my church and I certainly will be part of it, but I fear the black church will exclude themselves from it."

Bishop Young preached this evening: Point one of his message, "The Church does not belong to you." RP, there is no black church and you do not own; there is no such thing as "your" church. The church belongs to God and we, you and I both belong to the church. Accept that and you have no black church or white church.

Secondly, you come off with a superior attitude when you speak of "wanting the black church" to be apart of the great revival.

Jesus told Peter, "Upon this rock I will build MY church . . ." Now if Jesus intended a black churck or a white church or a gentile church, he would have said it. Stop thinking of "my church" or "your church" instead think in terms of one church with many members. Note your words, "My, they, them" try "us" for a change.

-- Anonymous, June 20, 2004


I sense some tension in your post. On one level it feels as if you are saying you've tried to understand and sympathize with African American Christians. You site your interracial experiences in worship. However, on the other hand you come across as being defensive and projecting unresolved fears and biases on others. If you are truly interested in the Realm of God and the move of the Holy Spirit across racial and cultural barriers, I suggest an excellent book that addresses the Beloved community: The lion and the lamb shall lie down together in peace. Once I find it. I'll post it to the board. I believe it will bless you in your interpersonal communications with Christians who are non-white.

The Church is alive and well in all cultures who manifest the Love- Ethic of Jesus the Christ be they black, yellow, red, or white we all precious in God's sight. When we allow each other to be who we are great things will happen. Peace and Blessings be upon you. When you read the book (once I can find it) I would be interested in listening to your comments.

Your in Kin-dom building, Antonio Smith

-- Anonymous, June 20, 2004

Brother RP,

I sympathize with your laments with regard to the frustration you've experienced in trying to communicate on a board where you find yourself in the minority. Given the amount of time you have spent with us, and in light of all of the misunderstandings, hurt feelings, disagreement, and disconnects; has it not occurred to you that your conclusions - despite your best efforts and intentions - are wrong? Is it reasonable to believe that right conclusions can ever be reached after a succession of failures to communicate? Even the secular society, for reasons other than love, undertake programs of training in diversity and sensitivity to try and defeat the barriers to effective communication.

You are correct in believing that many will not understand even this post as you may have intended. I dare say many will take offense. But consider these - your words - directed at you and your church and tell me what you think (I've taken out references to black and African American)...

... I decided today that it really is not possible at this point for large numbers of outsiders to understand the mind of those in [your] church.

...The largest effect is [your] church will always be segregated from the rest of American Christianity

...Celebrations of [your] culture and history hold little interest for those outside [your] church. In fact those in other churches are bewildered as to why this is part of the activities of [your] churches during regular church services and Sunday School.

...The enemy of our souls has lied to [your] church about their fellow Christians, and the lies have been largely accepted. THIS IN PARTICULAR has poisoned the minds of [your] Christians toward their fellow believers.

...we truly are headed for an end times revival that will likely outshine the Book of Acts. I'd like [your] church to be part of it. God would too. If it comes in my lifetime my church and I certainly will be part of it, but I fear [your] church will exclude themselves from it.

...For their sake I must make the effort, and urge them to prayerfully consider joining a church outside of [your] church.

Its because of words and comments such as these that you are subjected to so much anger and hostility, not because the black church is somehow dificient or reprobate. We are the church of Jesus Christ and for you to cast such dispersions on that which is ordained of God should cause you to tremble in horror and fall to your knees and pray. But be comforted - you are forgiven.

My admonishment to you dear brother - in love - is to abandon the trap of preconceptions, and embrace that which is not perceptable by fleshy eyes. Set your mind to discovery and rethink that which you think you 'know.' Do not be wise in your own eyes and be willing to submit to love rather than be conquered by fear and misunderstanding.


Sincerely, In Christ, In Love

-- Anonymous, June 21, 2004

Dear Bro. RP I will make this short. "How many white Christians attend predominatly Black conferences and conventions and organizations? It is not about the white church or the balck church, it is about the "Children of God". I am the Church not the denomination or the building I have my membership with, therefore, wherever I go and it is a Body of Believers in Christ Jeus, we are the Church

-- Anonymous, June 21, 2004

Rob Price (RP) I feel I must respond to your post. I was on this discussion board 4 years ago when you first came on board. Your initial post was devisive and racist, you wrote directly to Rev. Fisher who asked permission of the board to let you post questions. many said yes. From the time you have been on this board, I have watched question, put down and our ways of worship. Yet you would not allow us to do that on your denomination board, neither would your moderator.

The truth is that there is no moderated board on the internet that would allow you to disrupt a board except this one. I like you am on other boards, and their is civility and respect. Moderators, lock the board or tell people who are consistently negative to leave.

But for some reason you have felt that you could come on a board of a denomination that is not yours put us down, patronize us and act as if you are "the great white missionary". For 4 years you have abused and mistaken kindness for weakness.

Rob, I am going to talk about white people for I am in a unique position for I pastor a predominantly WHITE church in the ame denomination. I live in a town that has 80 percent of its population holds a college degree. My members love being ame, they love their bishop because of the doctrine, good preaching, love, inclusiveness, and the rich tradition of our church.

Soon my Bishop will bring in a church that is half white and half asian in british columbia into our denomination. My members and others want to be ame! One american baptist church in long beach converted to being ame. RP we have as a denomination been here since 1787! You ask are we a church on the move the answer is YES! for an entire year I asked you to go to an ame church and you never did. I have attended an assembly of God church and I would venture to say that the majority of us on this board have a visited "white churches"

We do not dwell on the history of slavery, though every major city and the wealth of this country was build on the backs and blood of slaves.

After 4 years I have come to this conclusion, your plan to harm this board has failed. Your attempts to destroy our church have failed, your stealth tactics of racism have failed.

Rob, what you did not and do not realize is that for 4 years you have been totally depended on this board. We have been the only ones who have listened to you, offered you prayer, forgiven you and showed you the face of Christ.

I will be honest this board is at a cross road, it can allow 3 or 4 people to continually be negative, or we can make a choice and take the board back! Discuss ways we can share resources, welcome new people to post on the board, discuss music, our vacation plans. and realize that as long as RP and others posts uncivil remarks that it is a reflection of the entire denomination.

Rev. Fisher was tireless in trying to create a safe place for people to post and for our zion to grow.

Rob you will be back, you always come back but I hope that this time you will visit an ame church and feel the joy.

One last thing, every day I look at this board I wonder if sister Jan Fisher looks at this board. For it was and is a legacy of her late husband Rev. Fisher. She is still grieving, sunday was father's day Rev. Fisher's children have no father. I pray we can turn the board around and share the love and joy of christ once again, RP we are methodists and communion is open to everyone. We have extended the hand of fellowship to you for 4 years, now it is time for you receive the hand of Christ and there will be no communication problems.

To those I have not written in awhile, I love you all! I miss you, but you know I am doing the herald and ministry. Please give a shout out on the board everyone, I know it is hard for we are afraid of attacks, but lets try one shout out.

Denise in the mountains of montana, Danielle is going horseback riding this week, I am hiking in the mountains for wild flowers and the eagles are literally overhead. Wow! isn't it grand being ame.

-- Anonymous, June 21, 2004

In response to Rev. Denise's call for rapprochement, I greet you all in His love. I do indeed miss the fellowship of discussion, sharing, and enlightenment that we once shared. I pray that all our paisn can be healed, and that we can again resume the lively discussions we once enjoyed.

Best wishes and safe journey tall going to GenCon.

-- Anonymous, June 21, 2004

I think many of you missed the point of RP's post.

Someone once said, "I’ve learned if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so no one will believe it."

Can any of you prove RP's statements to be false? Are we living so that no one would believe him?

You see, brethren, like it or not, his perception is his reality, just as many of you perceive him to be a racist (and I think someone called him a tool of the devil). Until he changes his behavior, he will continue to be a racist in your eyes. Is he a racist? I don't know. I haven't met him (but I will some day).

As to the state of the Black Church: Someone has been brave enough to tell us what he sees. Someone has watched. Someone has read our posts. Someone has conversed with us and shared ideas that are going on in his church. Ideas that are winning souls. Ideas that are lifting the faint and cheering the fallen.

And what do we do? We call him names.....

In a previous post, we learned that the powers that be won't webcast any part GC2004. We video and audio tape sermons in our churches. Why do the powers that be feel we would need to edit the spoken word of God?

What are we hiding?

Other denominations are light years ahead of us with respect to technology, even though we have the same access to it. Why?

Other denominations have been spotlighted for sexual misconduct (to put it politely). What are we doing to put our house in order?

Many preachers of the past became political activists to champion the cause of our people. Revs. Jackson and King come to mind. Who is stepping up to the plate now? Who and where is our voice now? Have we become so complacent that we think the struggle is over?

How did the Mormons become one of the largest denominations on the planet? They went everywhere without fear. Our own Rev. Rogers is an example of that pioneering spirit. The "A" in AME is for our PAST, not our FUTURE. Why are there no works in Germany, France, Spain, Russia, Japan, Korea, China?

Wheww......... Did RP's post bother me?

No, because I did not receive it in a spirit of hatred. I read it for what it is: an observation. An oservation that demands rational answers.

So I say this to all of you: Prove RP wrong. Change his perception by your action. Just imagine what would happen if he had to apologize. I think many of you would faint.

Be blessed....

-- Anonymous, June 21, 2004

I would simply ask RP (as is implied in a couple of other resposnes) - Why does integration/desegregation always have to be dependent on the black's going to the white? It needs to be a two- way street.

For example, here in Columbus, we have several ethnic festivals. Go to the Asian Festival (which I personally, think to be the best) and you will find multi-racial attendance with a pretty large representation of blacks.

Go to the Greek festival and you will find some black representation among the attendees and I'm reasonably certain they are not of Greek heritage [unless they are Omegas, Deltas, APA's, etc.].

We are present at the Italian Festival, and the Festival Latino. And Okotoberfest.

We attend the native American pow-wows. And of course, more than a few of us have native American background. My great grandmother was full blooded Cherokee.

Now, what happens when Juneteenth and other black oriented festivals and celebrations. You can generally count the whites present on one hand...and have fingers left over.

Who ain't doin' their part? 'snot us! We go to white churches, and perhaps synagogues, more than they come to us.

Whites stay away from black oriented or black led events in droves. Are they so afraid or insecure that they cannot be a "minority" for even a few moments?

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2004


I too have watched your posts on this board for the past four years. Some of these I have responded to and other I simply chose to not respond. However some things I have said before you apparently did not comprehend. So let me repeat some of them again.

The A.M.E. Church, since its conception has been open to all. Our membership consists of persons who are not only black but European and Asian as well. We even have a Church in London, England presided over by one of the Bishops of the Church.

The only restriction is that none of our members may be persons holding slaves. On these grounds and using the argument, Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne, very early in the history of the A.M.E. Church, received a white woman into full membership at Mother Bethel Church.

The first A. M. E. Society in the State of Arkansas was organized by Local Deacon Nathan Warren, at Little Rock, in 1866, in the home of Mother Lucy Elrod, and her husband, Anthony Elrod, was the first Class Leader and Steward. Revs. Peter Donty and Levi F. Carter were the first pastors.

The Arkansas Annual Conference was organized at Little Rock, November 9, 1868--Bishop Campbell presiding. William A. Rector, a layman, acted as secretary.

African Methodist Missionary work among Native Americans in the Indian Territory was begun when Aaron T. Gillett was sent from the Arkansas Annual Conference as a missionary in 1870. The Georgia Annual Conference of the A.M.E. Church met in Atlanta on January 14, 1871. Fourteen ministers were ordained as Elders. Among them was J. F. A. Sisson, a white man. He later became Secretary of the Annual Conference and a delegate to each successive session of the General Conference until he died.

My own Annual Conference was formed from this Conference and still has white members who are active as officers in their Local Church, Annual Conference, Episcopal District and General Church. Elder James F. A. Sisson was transferred from the Georgia A. M. E. Conference and was appointed as Presiding Elder by Bishop John M. Brown, over the Pulaski District, which included the Indian Territory, also. Elder Sission labored assiduously with George T. Rutherford, Granville Ryles and others, to spread the A. M. E. Church among the several Indian tribes. Bishop T. M. D. Ward organized the Indian African Methodist Episcopal Conference on October 25, 1879, in the home of Brother Billy Kile, at Yellow Springs, Indian Territory.

Cultural Diversity is nothing new to the A.M.E. Church. Since you are not familiar with the faces of persons posting on this board, you have no idea whether they are Asian, Black or White, even though they are members if the A.M.E. Church. Your assumption that they are black might be totally wrong.

As it relates to Celebrating our Cultural and Ethic Heritage in the Church we have sufficient Biblical precedence for it. When the Children of Israel were crossing the River of Jordan into the Promised Land, they placed 12 large stones in it and Joshua gave the following command:

“That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, what mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.”

Like the Children of Israel, when we celebrate our ethnic heritage in the Church, we are simply telling our children “What mean these stones”. For, we too have come through deep waters by the hand of God.

Purim, Passover and Pentecost are reminders of Jewish Ethnic Heritage as well. Even Jesus and His Apostles kept these feasts. So, RP, you need to get a grip on life and learn of as well as from cultures other than your own.

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2004

Another self serving black bashing post. No surprise there. Nothing even thought provoking in it.

As many of you have pleaded with this NeoPentecostal demagogue, please understand us, please listen to us and try to understand us. Once again he has responded, in no uncertain terms "I am a White man. I know the right way follow Me."

The number of un-truths in his post are disgusting. You may call them his perceptions, I call them his outright lies.

Beginning with number 1 "There is a profound distrust of Christians outside the Black Church."

This is a statement based on his racist ignorance. African American denominations have worked hard to build ecumenical unions all over the world. We have no reason to be ashamed of our work to build bridges all over this country and around the world.

Points 2, 3, and 4 are all variations of the same theme he has paraded before this board time and time again. If it has anything to with or is even remotely connected to African American History or culture it is wrong.

The absolute truth here is that the African American Church was developed because we forcibly prohibited in many cases from worshipping with our white brethren. Of course, this is that ancient history stuff and so rather than not worship God our ancestors developed their churches because they had no other choice. Most of the black churches I have attended have used the struggles of the past as an example of the power of God to overcome the shackles of humans.

If RP is offended by the historic behavior of his ancestors that is not a problem I can address. It is ridiculous to assert that in order to soothe his conscience, we should abandon the history of our people a history that reflects a constancy of faith in a redeeming and liberating God. If white people are not interested in African American celebrations the question is why not?

The fact is that RP has time and time again has shown un Christian deportment in the way he has decried black history out of his monumental ignorance of anything other than what he believes.

This discussion board does not represent the vast majority of AME churches much less African American churches and for RP to say that the bulk of African American churches are stuck in 1965 is so offensive that in many ways it sets a huge barrier to a cogent discussion.

How does one write things that are knowingly offensive to many out of concern for their safety. He is write, it is difficult to understand his intentions or perhaps this just makes it easier to discern his racism. Poor fellow we are praying for you.

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2004

One of the blessings of doing the ame herald and having a support group for small and rural churches is that I hear from people across our great zion and from around the world. website for small and rural churches

Cut and paste above address

In my small church support group we have churches from, india, brazil, japan, england, france, canada, norway, venezula, U.S. etc. on the page it says this is a support group for those who are ame.

Yet the majority of those in the support group are white, non denominational or in other denominations, I send to my bishop the name and places of these churches. These small churches to look to the ame church for support and leadership. They know who we are and they want our guidance.

In terms of why we do not have churches in japan, brazil etc. The answer is partly we do not have pastors willing to start these new works. In some districts there are pastors sitting in churches without a pastorate. But they will rather wait until they get an appointment. The hardest work in the world is planting a new church, it is back breaking, lonely, etc. But it is also joyful, rewarding, uplifting and FUN!

Our church has always spoken out on social justice issues and we still do! Our own council of bishops were one of the first denominations to speak out against the war in Iraq, they even made sure their letter was delivered directly to the white house.

Dr. Peck former WMS President has been heading a battle with congress to provide more resources for food around the world. Rev. Joe Darby, Dr. Cecil Murray, Pastors in california standing up to gangs, we are speaking up and out for righteousnous.

I think too often individuals only see their immediate surroundings and think that is what is happening in the entire connection, but it is not.

Last week, the KKK came back to my town, after a 10 year absences. This week, I have to make plans on how to deal with them again. I am speaking out!

RP has made it clear how he feels, I hope we can make it clear how we feel about our zion. One last thing other denominations are not light years ahead of us. Believe it or not we are the ones light years ahead, they have copied us, we have just forgotten;-)

The united methodist had a webcast. It was a NIGHTMARE!! It did not work. They even had mirrow websites but too many people tried to get on and the site was down most of the time, if you remember I put their link in the herald, how many of you were able to see and hear it.

I am in contact with the news media of most of the mainline denominations, they do not put out the amount of news that our denomination puts out. Check the UMC, episcopal etc.

Let us put the spotlight back on Christ, not RP, or anything else. What can we do to fullfill the great commission.

How can we keep hope alive on this board. How can we encourage one another. There is someone on this board today who is ame who is unemployed, weary, sick, lonely and needs to know that we care about them.

To that person(s) hold on, we love you ! God loves you. Our zion is not dead! There is still great works being done because the hand of Christ is upon us.

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2004

Good try Reverend Harper but at this point your defense of RP is pointless and mute. As I stated I have been on this board as long as RP. My old computer saved every e-mail letter I received. So it is possible for me to go back and pull up the majority of his posts. However, I do not care to revisit any of them.

I also have 60 years of being well acquainted with the language of bigotry. It is no longer subtle innuendo with me. Therefore, unlike you and as even as Our Lord Jesus would do, I am calling a spade a spade and snake a snake.

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2004

I wasn't defending RP; I was challenging us to prove him wrong. Many of you did just that in your posts. And you did it without name- calling.

And by the way, I do call spades spades when I know they are spades. If they are shovels, I wait....

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2004

I had to take a short business trip, but I figured that would be timely because that would allow a number of replies to collect.

As I read some of them I thought, "what is this person talking about?" or "they're missing the point completely."

I'm sure I'm not understanding some of the points you were trying to make as well so it goes both ways.

Two weeks ago I would have answered some of the replies, but as I said in the title I've reached a conclusion.

We can't communicate, and are likely to remain a divided house for a while yet. I don't think this is God's will, but it is reality at this point. I've accepted it.

-- Anonymous, June 25, 2004

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