Join us for Shiloh’s Lifestyle Institute – Bible Study That Changes Lives (from wherever you are!)

Join us Thursday evenings for the next 4 weeks for an intense, engaging, and spiritually enlightening series of presentations for our Lifestyle Institute:

Worship According to the Psalms:

A Study of the Experience, Embodiment and Expression

of the People of God


We will be lead by the Reverend Starlette Thomas, Interim Pastor of Village Baptist Church, in this unique service of prayer & praise, worship and study August 2, 9, 16 & 23, 2018. 

Join us by telephone conference call from 7:00 to 7:45 p.m. The call-in telephone number is 1-857-232-0155; Access code: 428058.  *And PLEASE follow the teleprompted instructions to mute your phone until instructed otherwise by our leaders.*

Each class during this series will be held by teleconference, so that you can participate with us from wherever you may be: at home, commuting (hands-free only if driving of course), and even if you are on vacation!  

We are so excited to offer this series to one and all, and please remember to join us every Sunday at 10 am for our regular worship services at Shiloh, with Church School classes for children and adults starting at 9 am. “9th and P is the place to be!”

The Pastor’s Pen: July 29, 2018

It bears repeating that we have identified our theme for the next few years as being, The Voice of Justice for the Black Church in America.  One particularly dreadful example of injustice facing Black and brown people in our nation is the inequality within the penal system. In her book, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander points to the rise in the prison rate for people of color as being the direct result of the so-called “War on Drugs” which was, in effect, a war on oppressed minorities, with drugs as a convenient excuse.

In the past 25 years, the prison population has risen from 350,000 to 2.3 million. According to Alexander, this alarming growth is not the result of increased crime, but the War on Drugs’ singular achievement of codifying harsher sentences and developing mandates that persons caught in third time offenses would face life imprisonment. We must keep in mind that although the Republicans rose to political dominance on the Law and Order platform, it was Democratic President Bill Clinton who enacted the “three strikes you’re out” policy (i.e., Three-Strikes Law) that contributed to overpopulated prisons.  Actually, the federal and state prison populations rose more under Bill Clinton than under any other president.

The reprehensible rise in the prison population has had shocking results for our society. Drug crimes are considered felonies; as such, prisoners are branded for life; they must list themselves as felons when applying for jobs; they are ineligible for food stamps and denied access to public housing; and in a number of states, they are not permitted to vote or hold office. Alexander noted that prisoners are subject to permanent second-class citizenship similar to the status of freed Blacks after Emancipation.

Shiloh’s Social Justice Ministry has elevated our consciousness about prison reform as more than making prisoners lives more humane, but also in challenging the conditions that made the War on Drugs an assault on Black and brown people in this nation. As we uphold our theme to become the voice of justice for the Black church, let us redouble our efforts to educationally and legislatively promote and fight for justice in sentencing.  We also endeavor to work tirelessly to make people aware of how society exploits drug use to suppress the progress of people of color through the penal system.

The words of the Lord make this mandate clear: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. (Luke 4:18-19-KJV)

The Pastor’s Pen: July 22, 2018

Theologian N. T. Wright once said, “The Person who walks out of [the pages of the Gospels] to meet us is just central and irreplaceable. He is always a surprise. We never have Jesus in our pockets. He is always coming at us from different angles … If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. And go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but part of the drama that has him as the central character.”

When I was a student intern with Dr. J. Pius Barbour at the Calvary Baptist Church in Chester, Pennsylvania, Dr. Barbour once described me as Jesus freak.” Back in the 60s and 70s, that phrase was used to describe those who were counter-culturists, but who had come to identify Jesus as the archetypal counter-culturist. Jesus lived a life that did not conform to traditional concepts of accomplishment or effectiveness. He never taught “the good life” as climbing the ladder of success, or impressing people with one’s knowledge or competence. He never permitted those who followed him to practice situation ethics. Making a radical commitment to living on principle was never to be compromised as a way to get ahead. In fact, a Jesus-centric view of life was then and now for me the first principle of Christian faith. I wear the description “Jesus freak” as the banner that hangs over my life.

My friend, Dr. Tony Campolo is fond of saying, “When interpreting the Bible, it is the red stuff, the words of Jesus that is the measuring stick.”

Pop culture has adopted the acronym, WWJD:  What Would Jesus Do, as a way to determine decisions. In this case, pop culture gets it right. I have never made a mistake when I have tried to think of what Jesus would do in any given situation. I have made a ton of mistakes when I have allowed other voices to determine my directions. Again, when in doubt, consult the red stuff. It is the key to a Christ-like life.

The Pastor’s Pen: July 15, 2018

Last week, Baptists from all over the world gathered for meetings of the Baptist World Alliance. For the last twenty-five years, I have been honored to serve on the organization’s General Council. Each year, we address issues facing Baptists throughout the world through commission discussions and resolutions. Following is one of the resolutions passed by the 120 members of the Council.

Resolution on Preserving the Primacy of Family in Immigration, The Baptist World Alliance General Council, meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, July 2-6, 2018: RECOGNIZES that the human desire to preserve and protect one’s family from violence, disease, economic depravity, and other threatening conditions is universal and drives millions of people to leave their homelands seeking better lives for themselves and their family members; AFFIRMS the clear biblical mandate to welcome the stranger and for followers of Jesus to respond with love and justice to the plight of immigrants, migrants, and refugees (Micah 6:8; Matt. 22:34-40, 25:35, 40; Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:1-3.); ASSERTS our belief that God created the family as the primary social unit, and that families are integral to a healthy society; REAFFIRMS our past resolutions noting our position on the rights and dignity of immigrants, migrants, and refugees, including those adopted in 2013, 2016, and 2017; LAMENTS recent actions by the U.S. government that separated more than 2,000 migrant children from the parents, many of whom remain in detention even as their parents have already been deported; REJECTS claims by some U.S. government officials that the Bible justifies a policy of forced separation of families, and urges the U.S. government to work toward reuniting each family and prevent such separations in the future; CALLS upon individuals, churches, and religious organizations to be involved in immigration issues supporting the primacy of family solidarity; ENCOURAGES all Baptists to prophetically challenge immoral policies that seek to undermine the rights and dignity of immigrants, migrants, and refugees; and URGES all governments to follow international law regarding the proper treatment of immigrants, migrants, and refugees, and to uphold the primacy of the family unit.

Countries from every continent, have recognized the hateful policies promoted by our government. Our prayers must continue to be that those in positions of power in the U.S. will come to realize how far our nation has moved away from its Pledge of Allegiance that America stands for freedom and justice for all.


The Pastor’s Pen: July 8, 2018

Fear is one of the most powerful of all human emotions. Little children often fear the dark. Countless school-agers are terrified of bullies. Those in mid-life dread economic problems, ill health, and family challenges. Twenty-first century life is a plethora of phobias and anxieties, from fear of height or enclosed spaces to dread of spiders, snakes and every creepy crawly thing.

 Facing our need to feel secure is critical as many contend that the government maintains its control over voters by mobilizing their fears. Every day we are told to fear immigrants from all but the whitest countries. Pundits on Fox News exacerbate the fear of migrants by the continued drumbeat that those crossing our boarders are MS 13 gang members who will rape, rob, and kill citizens at will, although all the evidence indicates the contrary. Out of fear, people will even defend the separation of children from families if that is what it takes to keep them safe.

 Where faith enters the equation is that faith casts out fear. The Bible makes clear that we are not to fear, but welcome the strangers, that we are to have compassion for, not anxieties about the poor, that we are to never enter any battle against evil with trepidation knowing that if the Lord be for us who can be against us. The Biblical answer to all of our worries and dreads is to redouble our efforts to trust in God. Faith rests on the unshakeable assumption that God has never been and will never be defeated, even when circumstances seem to indicate the contrary. The 27th Psalm says it best: “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?”

The Pastor’s Pen: July 1, 2018

I realize there may be some confusion about the appeal I have been making from the pulpit for the last few Sundays. Permit me to clear this up.

 Upon evaluating our ability to meet the bank-imposed cash requirements by the end of the fiscal year, we realized there would potentially be a $120,000 shortfall. We were able to cut expenses by $72,000 which left $48,000. This is the number we are trying to collect in giving beyond that which you would have given through September 30. If you are able to help us raise the $48,000, mark your contribution “Mid-year Campaign” to be sure it is correctly allocated. Please submit your contributions by July 15. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me or to one of our trustees. 

 These are tough times financially all around; for our church, we are working on solutions that will ease our financial burdens long term. In addition to the shortfall explained above, we must also address the normal slump in collection during the summer months. Shiloh, we have always risen to the occasion; I am, therefore, confident that you will step up and do your best to support this effort. One sure way is to pay your tithes before you leave to go on vacation. Thank you, Shiloh, for your prayerful consideration of your financial commitment and pledges.

 I recently mentioned at a meeting that although times are bad in the United States, God is good! Recent Supreme Court decisions have rocked our nation. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement will offer the present Administration the opportunity to continue to pack the court. With a right wing majority on the court, all the advances of the Civil Rights Movement stand to be wiped away. As Donald Trump continues to function more like a king or emperor, many feel helpless and powerless. It is time for all churches to double down their efforts and go to God in prayer, pleading for a healing of this nation.

 I am reminded of the story in 2 Kings where the Syrian army marched against Elisha because he was able to provide the King of Judah information on the Syrians’ attack strategy. The Syrians assumed if they could silence the man of God, they could defeat Israel and Judah. When the Syrian army mobilized, Elisha’s servant was terrified at the size of the enemy. Elisha prayed that God would open the servant’s eyes. When the Lord opened the young man’s eyes, he saw God’s armyhorses and chariots of fire, the Hosts of Heaven — around Elisha.

Rather than slipping into depression and despair over the state of our country, let us pray that God will open our eyes so that we may know that the battle is not ours; it is the Lord’s.