The Pastor’s Pen: June 17, 2018

The Shiloh family joins with congregations throughout the nation to acknowledge the exemplary fathers who have made such a difference in the lives of so many. Shiloh is blessed to have been led over the years by extraordinary pastors: Shiloh’s first pastor, Rev. William J. Walker, was a part of that courageous and fearless team that took the grueling trip from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Washington, DC after church life at old Shiloh was disrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War. History remembers Walker as a courageous leader, a powerful orator, and a scholar at a time when slaves could be hung for simply attempting to secure an education. Shiloh’s second pastor, Rev. James Anderson Taylor, is remembered as a man of culture and refinement. Under his leadership, Shiloh became known as a congregation second to none in merging the spiritual and the performing arts. Shiloh’s third pastor, Rev. Dr. Milton Waldron, brought to the pulpit a determined stance for justice and freedom. At a time when Jim Crow segregation was at its height, Dr. Waldron preached and taught Black liberation through self-help. During the depression, Shiloh was led by its fourth pastor, Rev. Earl L. Harrison, a Texan with a national reputation for oratory and matchless leadership. God brought him to Shiloh during the time when African-Americans suffered the worst effects of the Great Depression, as well as the unyielding challenges of entrenched bigotry and racism. Rev. Henry C. Gregory III, a Harvard trained scholar and Shiloh’s fifth pastor, was a peerless motivator and matchless pulpiteer. His insight as a visionary is evidenced through the construction of the Family Life Center, the first of its kind in the U.S. built by a Black congregation.

Along with the stellar leadership of five legendary preacher-pastors, Shiloh also is blessed to have deacons, trustees, choir members and musicians of rare talents and abilities. Shiloh men have been leaders in education, politics, medicine, the judiciary, the military, law enforcement, as firefighters, transit and postal workers, and various and sundry other significant positions through the breadth and depth of Washington society. Shiloh men displayed their love of family and community as loving husbands, exemplary fathers and excellent community leaders. One could surely make the case that Shiloh men have been in the forefront of all that has made Black Washington an effective city and the model for Black people in cities large and small. Shiloh men have thrived in spite of the appalling realities of economic deprivation, cultural denigration and ubiquitous racism.  At this time in our nation’s history when the very fabric of our democracy seems in jeopardy, we continue to thank God for the strong courageous men in our midst who refuse to give in to the reactionary forces that have taken over our government. And, we are hopeful when we see the youth and young adult males within our congregation who refuse to yield to schoolyard bullying, the violence and drugs in our community, and all the forces that attempt to make them feel that striving for success is for whites only. The next generation of Shiloh men have taken up the mantle from their fathers and grandfathers, and are set to write the next chapters of wonderful stories of Shiloh men. May God continue to bless and keep our Shiloh men as they hold high the mantle of godly leadership.  Happy Father’s Day!