The Pastor’s Pen: October 28, 2018

I am proud to congratulate Shiloh’s wonderful ushers today for their incredibly consistent and sacrificial service. On any given occasion in our Sanctuary, we can count on our ushers serving at their stations, willing to see that the services go smoothly and that our needs are met when requested, anticipated or noted. We are grateful for our Shiloh doorkeepers and their devoted commitment to our church and ultimately to our God!

One of the things I learned in my college philosophy courses was that freedom of speech is never permissible in potentially dangerous circumstances, such as crying “fire” in a crowded theater. This week, we witnessed the awful consequences of hate speech. From the inception of this Administration’s rise to leadership, there have been ceaseless assaults on political opponents and the media. It was believed that the way to defeat political foes was endless personal attacks upon all the opposition. Philosophers also refer to ad hominem attacks as a logical fallacy. These attacks are resorted to when an argument is weak and cannot be supported by facts. Ad hominem attacks are when a debater attacks the personality of a speaker rather than the substance of that person’s argument. Examples abound:Lying Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Crooked Hilary,” are but a few. And of course, the one most concerning this week, is “fake news,” referring to the mainstream media, and these outlets as “the enemy of the people.” Our leaders and their supporters have seen the result of crying fire in a crowded theater, a hate stampede that could potentially be as devastating as an actual fire.

At the time of this writing, mail bombs have been distributed to nine prominent Democrats, including our former President Barack Obama. No one believes any of these mailings was done by anyone in the party in power, but the dog whistles have emboldened their followers to believe drastic action was necessary. Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, condemned Donald Trump and the White House by saying, “There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The President and especially White House Press Secretary should understand their words matter.”

James 1:26 states, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” James 3:7-10 adds: “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so, blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!

Words do matter. Lately, psychologists have concluded that verbal abuse is as harmful as physical abuse. The time has come for our nation to repent of its hate speech and recognize that if we claim to be Christians, our responsibility is to speak peacefully and respectfully of all and never under any circumstances think crying fire in a crowded theater is acceptable.

The Pastor’s Pen: October 21, 2018

Our theme for the new church year is The Justice of Jesus Christ in Action: Social Justice in Action, Advocacy, Education and Direct Action. Shiloh has been in the fight for these social justice issues consistently over the years. In this coming church year, we want to intensify our efforts and engage each of these categories with renewed vigor.

Advocacy encompasses taking a position and ensuring we make our voices heard. Last Sunday’s Breast Cancer Awareness focus was an example of advocacy in action. Our Deaconess Ministry led the way with pink ribbons, banners and other forms of publicity to raise the awareness of breast cancer and its effect on many in our congregation and countless around the world. We have joined with groups around the nation to express our solidarity with individuals who suffer from breast cancer and embrace families who care for loved ones struggling with this dreadful disease. Of course, a part of the advocacy is to encourage people to work toward prevention through regular screening tests which is the most reliable way to detect breast cancer early. A highlight of last week’s service was the testimony of Deaconess Jannie Campbell who announced that she is a 27-year breast cancer survivor; to God be the glory!

The second part of our theme is education. Advocacy and education are closely aligned. We can’t really take a stand if we are not aware of the issues. In the last several years, the mantra and the cry for social justice have heightened our educational awareness of the injustices in our world. In recent years we have shared information about Trayvon Martin’s senseless murder in Sanford, Florida. We have raised awareness of the continued assault on African Americans by police forces and have held public forums to educate our communities and the world of these kinds of injustices. We have also attempted to educate our members of the plight of prisoners in our nation, and through an educational outreach, have encouraged letter writing campaigns to let incarcerated men and women know that Shiloh cares.

The third aspect of our theme is direct action. There are times when our efforts to educate and advocate require tangible action. Direct action encompasses such initiatives as letter writing campaigns, Congressional testimonies, marches and sit-ins for justice. The first direct action I was involved with after coming to Shiloh was the Rodney King protests. We shudder to recall the brutalization of Mr. King by the Orange County, California police that was caught on videotape, only for a Simi Valley jury to totally exonerate the police for any wrongdoing. More recently, we have taken part in Black Lives Matter protests and the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign led by the Reverend William Barber. We must keep active and we must continue to educate the issues through direct action.

Our overall theme for the last few years has been to be “The Voice of Justice for the Black Church in America.” This year, we further that theme with, “The Justice of Jesus Christ in Action: Justice in Action, Advocacy, Education and Direct Action.” We look forward to this church year being one of our most effective and productive in the history of our church.

The Pastor’s Pen: October 14, 2018

We have embarked upon our six-week study of the Church Covenant. In the first session we discussed the background of the Covenant. Covenants between God and humanity originated in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were presented with an awesome gift, a space of peace and plenty, with the provision that they simply care for it and be obedient to God. They were not obedient and chose instead to rebel against God. Their disobedience breached the Covenant and they fell from grace.

The concepts of humankind and God continued through Noah, where for his obedience, God guaranteed that the flood waters would never again destroy the Earth and the rainbow in the sky would be the affirmation of that covenant. Covenantal theology continued through the Patriarchs, most noticeably Abraham who was given a promise that God would bless his descendants because of his faithfulness. In the New Testament, the Covenant was expanded to all who believed in Christ and the promise to the church was they by being faithful to Christ would receive eternal life.

The covenant that we recite on first Sundays goes back to the Protestant Reformation and articulated church members’ belief in God and commitment to each other. The Church Covenant is not just something we say, it is recited with a deep desire to live our lives for Christ.

Please join us on Thursday evenings at 7 PM for our Bible Institute. It is education that changes lives.


Recently we witnessed one of the most horrendous crimes in modern history. A week ago, Jamal Khashoggi, journalist for the Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. According to intelligence sources, he was lured there under the pretense that the Saudi government had documents to assist him in his upcoming engagement to be married. Once in the consulate, he was arrested, tortured, and murdered and his body was dismembered. This unspeakable barbarism is beyond the pale of civility and decency. Just when we think we could not sink any deeper into the abyss of lawlessness, this incident marks that we have plunged to new depths. In response to the tragedy our government states that we will take no economic reprisals because they have pledged to pay 100 billion dollars for US weapons. At this point, the 100 billion is blood money pure and simple.


As we discussed, the Church Covenant has two foci, the theological and the ethical. It delineates our relationships with God and with each other. There could be no more compelling reason why the world needs to accept Jesus, and why we in the church must never minimize the power of evil than the murder of Khashoggi . The Church Covenant articulates humankind’ s regulating force, that is Jesus, and Jesus alone.


The Pastor’s Pen: October 7, 2018

2018-2019 Church Theme:

The Justice of Jesus Christ in Action: Advocacy, Education and Direct Action

Today, we begin our 2018-2019 church year. We are looking forward to an exciting year of continuing our calls for justice, extending our outreach and using the Word of God to win souls to Christ and providing uplifting worship, comprehensive Christian education, and soul-satisfying fellowship and relation-building. Today, we will rededicate our congregation to the work of Kingdom building. We thank God for all the Shiloh leaders who will direct our work this coming year in the spirit of Christ Jesus. “Eyes have not seen, nor ear heard…” what God has in store for us in this coming church year.

Our focus this church year will be the Church Covenant. Though we recite it monthly when we observe Holy Communion, we want to spend time examining it to fully grasp its meaning and its intent for our lives.  We will study the Covenant for six weeks and focus on questions such as:  From where does the covenant originate? Why do some churches use a different covenant? How do we meditate on the Covenant to discern how it applies to our lives? We encourage our entire congregation to attend each Thursday evening, beginning October 11, so that together, we can develop a better understanding of this crucial document in the life of our congregation.

Last week’s forum on missing and exploited children provided a much-needed opportunity to increase our awareness and better understand the plight of children in our society. Panel members and others pointed out that time and time again when children of color go missing, there is a stark gap in media coverage, and efforts to find them are not immediate and hasty as they are when white children go missing. Many in attendance felt that law enforcement and government agencies give only lip service, but in reality do not make finding Black and brown children a priority. It was also pointed out that sex trafficking is at the heart of many of these missing children’s cases and that money may be the seed of this epidemic. People of wealth will pay handsomely to buy children as sex toys, but when they tire of the children, they often throw them back on the streets or have them killed to protect their unscrupulous behavior from any possible legal action.

Our society renders certain folk, usually the poor and infirmed, as expendable. Until the church leads the way in teaching society about the dignity of all humanity, child exploitation will continue. We thank our Social Justice Ministry for continuing to shed light on many of the vexing problems facing society in the 21st Century.

At the time of this writing, the Senate was preparing to vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s questionable seat on the Supreme Court. I, like many, doubt and question his suitability on the Court; his angry partisanship diatribe hurled against Democrats was on display for all of America to see that he will not adjudicate cases impartially. For those who claim that there is no difference between the Democrat and Republican parties, I say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Hyper-partisanship has led us to a place where women and people of color will have to face the most horrible injustices without even having a Court that will hear their challenges fairly. The gospel songwriter was correct: “If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now.”

The Pastor’s Pen: September 30, 2018