The Pastor’s Pen: June 9, 2019

Workplace killings in the United States have become an all too common phenomena. Too often, persons who are aggrieved by some mistreatment take up their feelings of hopelessness by violently striking out at those with whom they have had a working experience. Obviously, it is senseless and inexplicable, how taking out one’s rage on colleagues seems justified, even when those targeted have had little if anything to do with the grievance.

The recent shooting in Virginia Beach, Virginia seems to defy the dominant wisdom that the rage that escalates into violent actions is an attempt to get even for some perceived wrong. At the time of this writing, there was no evidence that the shooter in Virginia Beach had been dismissed, reprimanded, or even had experienced some sort of prejudice. All the reports suggest that the man who perpetrated the killing did so with seemingly no provocation at all. This leads to the startling and frightening realization that there are some people who have mental difficulties that far too long have gone undiagnosed. Mental illness in our society remains a taboo and is often subject to a “no discussion rule” within families and communities. It has been reported that the killer in Virginia Beach had exhibited some troubling behavior that coworkers and family had just dismissed as odd. However, in a society with the proliferation of guns and their easy availability, odd behavior should never be taken lightly. This does not mean that we ought to become hyper vigilant or paranoid when people seem a touch out of step with societal norms, neither does it mean that when behaviors are observed that are troubling, those behaviors should be reported without fear of being dismissed as overly sensitive or paranoid.

African-Americans have too often been targets for our cultural uniquenesses that the majority culture sees as threatening. Yet, certain behavioral oddities are warnings about anyone regardless of race class or gender. Although it may seem a cliché, history has shown that certain psychological behaviors such as being a loaner with very little social interaction, is too often an indicator of sudden and violent acts. There is a world of difference between wearing a baseball cap backwards or donning a unique hair cut or color and an avoidance of society, coupled with an unwillingness to participate in normal and polite conversation.

Having said this, we are quite aware that people come with all sorts of divergent personalities. Everyone is not gregarious and outgoing, but lack of social interaction coupled with angry defensiveness is behavior that must not be shrugged off. This is a difficult topic; we make no pretense of possessing any secret knowledge of the mysteries of the human psyche. We do, however, need to be unafraid to sound the alarm when people in our communities exhibit certain antisocial behavior. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” — a sentiment often attributed to Thomas Jefferson although the actual author is unknown — remains a timely and relevant counsel in our increasingly violent society. When you see someone acting strangely, be sure to report it before the behavior escalates into something much more tragic.

The Pastor’s Pen: June 2, 2019

Many viewers are following the end of the series, Game of Thrones. For the many Thrones fanatics, including yours truly, the last season and the series finale did not end as anticipated. Daenerys Targaryen, the blonde queen, and champion of the poor became hypnotized by power and set her dragon to destroy King’s Landing, killing every man, woman, and child.  This is a stunning example of what Lord Acton stated in the late 19th century, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Then, Jon Snow, the presumptive heir to the Iron Throne, who died and was brought back to life earlier in the series, and who had fallen in love with Daenerys, presumably before she went  insane, killed her to prevent her from ascending to the throne and possibly being worse than all the preceding monarchs. If you are not a Thrones devotee, everything I just said was gibberish or as confusing as one of 45’s midnight tweets. However, whether one liked the conclusion of the series or not, over the eight years there were insights that all of us Thrones junkies or not ought to take to heart.

 From beginning to end, all the characters and all the plots focused on the quest for the Iron Throne. We Christian people can learn that in this era of endless multitasking, we ought all have one purpose and that is to work toward the day when Christ will reign King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Throughout the “Game of Thrones” series, one of the most desirable positions was to be the “Hand of the King,” the monarch’s primary advisor and trusted confidant. In our Christian tradition, the early Christian theologians could not define what the Resurrection really meant, so they turned to the concept of the Trinity that Jesus, whatever else we might say about Him, was the Hand of the Father, co-equal and co-eternal. John put it this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” John 1:1.

Finally, the series carried a consistent theme that the reverence of kingship was called “bending the knee,” a term that described how all subjects should recognize monarchial power.

Americans are fond of seeing the nation’s soul as defined by rugged individualism. Yet, we must never forget that the key to successful living is bowing and bending our knee to God.  The Apostle Paul put it this way, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:10.  Bending our knee to God is much more than a game; it is the way to salvation.

The Pastor’s Pen: May 19, 2019

May begins our Spring Revival, which will be held May 28-30 at 7:00 p.m. We will be blessed again to have as our revivalist, the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, esteemed and honored Pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ of Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Moss has electrified us with his creative approach to preaching. Regularly, his sermons are filled with vivid images and illustrations from contemporary music, movies and print. We are encouraging our entire congregation to mark the week of Revival and plan to attend. Our young adults are leading, coordinating and will be facilitating these services. We thank them for their tireless efforts that help to keep our church beaming as a beacon of hope throughout the DMV. Please plan to attend this excellent time for spiritual growth and development. If you miss these services, you will surely miss a blessing.
We have just completed the third session of our Lifestyle Institute studies devoted to examining a fresh and new approach to our worship services and congregation – intergenerational worship. The goal of these sessions was to share openly how we move our congregation from multigenerational ministry to intergenerational ministry. We have been encouraged to bring our imaginations together to glimpse God’s blueprints towards worship in which “people of every age are understood to be equally important.” Through intergenerational worship, we will maximize the gifts God has given to our church family, from the oldest to the youngest. This endeavor is the newest phase of our fundamental mission, “to build a village that represents God’s kingdom.” Our sincerest thanks to Dr. Thomas Dixon Tyler for his vision and leadership in this initiative. At the end of these sessions, we will begin work on implementing practical ways that we may reimagine our wonderful church. Shiloh is an historic congregation which has developed several groundbreaking programs over the years. Our Family Life Center building was the first of such centers in Black churches anywhere in the U.S. To this day, Tennis At Shiloh remains one of the most creative programs of an African-American congregation in the world. Nicole Lamb-Hale, who co-leads the Reimagining Shiloh Initiative with Dr. Antonio McLaren, often says, “we are simply adding new rooms to an already excellent building!” We are calling on all Shiloh members to “catch the spirit” and join in and support this important initiative. More details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. To God be the glory!

The Pastor’s Pen: May 12, 2019

We welcome to our pulpit on this Mother’s Day and Women’s Day celebration, the Rev. NaKeisha Blount, a young woman who has distinguished herself as a preacher/theologian and as an effective attorney. Recently, she became a judge and
continues to successfully balance the challenges of family life and career. At Shiloh, we have watched as she and her husband, Raymond, have shown their love and attentiveness to their daughter, Aleia, a very special young lady in our youth ministry. We thank God for Rev. Blount and we know that she will deliver a powerful message at our 10:55 worship service.

Congratulations are extended to George Mensah, Jr., another young adult who has grown up right before our eyes. Today, George will graduate from Delaware State University. We thank God for blessing us with the joys of propelling and nurturing George during his formative years along his young Christian journey. We know that God has great things in store for him. In addition, we congratulate all our graduating seniors from high schools, colleges and graduate schools. Shiloh continues to be blessed to have many talented and God-like young people in our midst.

We also celebrate the mothers of Shiloh – biological, surrogates or mentors. Women and mothers are priceless, valued beings to humanity — period! They continue to do their great work while earning less than their male counterparts, while experiencing the horror of domestic violence and the rising unchecked violence on our streets, while sobbing and grieving over the deaths of their children who were caught in street violence, and while being sexually violated and assaulted randomly, or too often by people they know and trust. In the face of these horrific challenges, women and mothers yet hold high the candles that flame for moral and ethical direction in our world; they continue to effectively balance life, work and family, and continue to courageously and valiantly stand up against injustices imposed on their womanhood and on the silent majority in our society. We thank God for the women and mothers of this congregation and around the world and salute them on this special day.

The Pastor’s Pen: May 5, 2019

In 1927, a traditional American spiritual became an international bestseller 30 years after it was recorded. That spiritual was, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. The lyrics are, “He’s got the whole world in his hands; He’s got the wind and the rain in his hands; He’s got the little bitty babies in his hands; He’s got you and me brother in his hands in his hands.” With all that is going on in the world, it is a good time to remind ourselves that in spite of what seems like evidence to the contrary, God is in control. 

There are several realities that have caused our 21st century challenges. There is a crisis of truth in our society. Increasingly, our government puts out lies and insists they are factual. The Mueller report makes manifestly clear that the present Administration courted Russian help in the last election, now they deny that. Lies! They claim to be pro-middle-class, but all the initiatives offered up by the White House and the Senate are based on tax incentives for America’s wealthiest individuals. More lies!

Another cause of turmoil is ethnic and racial bias. The rise of so-called populism around the world is really a new nativism that holds the belief that countries of the Western world are experiencing economic downturns because of weakened immigration policies. The United States, Europe and portions of Mexico and South America have begun to harden their admission policies against Black and brown people.

Another root of today’s turmoil is economics. The emerging chaos in Venezuela is a case study of how in spite of that nation’s wealth of oil, Western powers have tightened the noose around them because of their politics, which are not favorable to the United States. We, therefore, watch in horror as protesters take their anger to the streets while opposition forces call for a military coup. Many of the problems around the world are not political, but economic. Africa remains a poor continent because richer countries deter poorer countries’ manufacturing because the U.S. and its global allies will buy a nation’s natural resources but will not purchase their developed goods.

Finally, much of the world’s violence and strife are the results of sectarian hatred. Sri Lanka is a case in point. On Easter Sunday, nearly 300 Christian worshippers lost their lives to terrorist bombs. More recently, a gunman entered a synagogue and murdered Jewish worshippers on the last day of Passover, and would have killed more if his gun had not jammed. So often we are drawn back to Rodney King’s words after the Los Angeles uprising, “Can’t we all just get along?”

With all the daily drumbeats of bad news, it is important to remind ourselves that God still has the whole world in His hands…and that will never change.

The Pastor’s Pen: April 28, 2019

We open this week’s Pen with a statement from our Social Justice Ministry:

Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, DC, joins the faith community leaders and worshipers from across the global community who mourn the loss of life, and cry out in protest against the inflicting of physical and emotional trauma on the persons, families, and communities victimized by the unconscionable, murderous attacks that took place this past Sunday in several locations in Sri Lanka.  We pray for those affected and the enduring strength and healing that God alone can bestow. Further, we beseech the world’s geopolitical leaders to recommit the resources of their nations’ governments, civil and cultural organizations to the achievement and sustaining of a justice-driven peace, and lasting security at the local, national and international levels.   Shiloh allies itself with the governmental, non-governmental and other civil society organizations in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia that seek the community peace and security that can be reached only through commitment to, and action on sustainable social justice.” 

 On Easter Sunday, one of the most horrific crimes against humanity and against Christ’s church was perpetrated in Sri Lanka. As we did here at Shiloh, Christians across Sri Lanka gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When worshipers thought they were safe to celebrate and praise God, they were met, instead, with bombs that killed nearly 300 people.

It is completely and totally contrary to the message of Jesus that violence of any kind should ever be pursued as a method of dramatizing grievances. Jesus was quite clear that if the Jewish people decided to take up arms against Rome, they would be totally annihilated. Jesus’ prophecy came true in 70 A.D. when the Romans dismantled Jerusalem and carried away the temple blocks one by one. Jesus taught us that nonviolent protest is the best way to bring about change. Although not a Christian, Mohandas Gandhi approved that Jesus’s ethic, when applied to the British occupation at the beginning of the 20th century, could bring down Britain’s rule. It was Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance and bold act of civil disobedience that ended Britain’s iron grip on India.

There are times when many of us feel so aggrieved that we would like to use violence as a method for getting even. It is human to strike back when we are struck. Jesus understood fully that taking such an approach does not lead to justice, but has the opposite effect on the enemy, causing the enemy to dig in and harden its opposition. In this post-Easter season, not only must we pray for victims and their families in Sri Lanka, but we must also recommit ourselves to pursuing peaceful solutions no matter how difficult they may be.

The Pastor’s Pen: April 14, 2019

It was an extraordinary day in the life of the Jewish nation. The Passover Festival was beginning and the young superstar of Galilee, Jesus of Nazareth, was entering the city of Jerusalem to face what was to become the most momentous week in the history of the Western world.

Several realities must not be overlooked when understanding the importance of this week. First, the Romans were brutal in their governing of conquered countries. Just as the Babylonians and Assyrians several centuries earlier. Rome maintained its grip on conquered nations by never allowing anything remotely viewed as a revolution of any kind. Secondly, Rome controlled Palestine through a puppet king named Herod they had placed on the throne and from whom they demanded absolute loyalty. Any show of weakness on his part would immediately lead to his being taken down from the position. A good question is, why was control of Palestine so important? There were two reasons. First, Palestine was on the Spice trade routes from Africa, providing exceptional wealth for the Empire. Also, Palestine provided a buffer to Rome’s primary adversary, Persia, modern-day Iran. All of the Palm Sunday and Holy Week drama turned on the unique nature of Passover was the one Jewish feast that marked their liberation from Egypt. No other time in the Jewish year would revolution have been as much on the minds of pilgrims entering Jerusalem as it was during Passover. Hundreds of thousands would have come deeply steeped in bitterness to Roman occupation. They would have come with the inspiration of Moses who a thousand years prior to this moment had gone into Pharaoh’s palace and demanded “let my people go”.  Deep in the Jewish psyche was the expectation of a Messiah who was believed to be a deliverer like Moses.

When the crowds cheered Jesusʹ triumphal entry into the city, they were cheering who they believed was to be the Messiah and therefore a modern-day Moses. Jesus did not come followed by an army of revolutionaries, attack Roman authority, but instead went to the temple, overturned the tables, and showed that his primary mission was not to overthrow Rome, but to purify the Jewish religion. When that knowledge became clear to the Jews with a revolutionary bent, it was certain Jesus had to die.

The Pastor’s Pen: April 7, 2019

Yesterday marked our 28th day of Lent.  As we continue to observe our theme during this Lenten season, “A Season of Sacrificial Commitment:  Time, Talent, Treasure,” I want to commend all sacrifices (individual and collective) made in preparation for Easter and in support of our church. I especially want to commend the efforts of the Men of Shiloh; they have presented an excellent project through which our church can show its dedication to those for whom society has forgotten:  the incarcerated. Following is a request from Brother Floyd Price, coordinator of our Prison Ministry: “As we continue our commitments and sacrifices this Lenten season and in keeping with our church theme, The Justice of Jesus in Action:  Advocacy, Education & Direct Action, the Social Justice Ministry needs your assistance. The Prison Ministry is asking you to take direct action and send seasonal and other forms of cards of encouragement to our incarcerated brothers. If you will send a card, kindly note the following: 1) Always use our church address as your return address: Shiloh Baptist Church, ATTN:  Prison Ministry, 1500 Ninth Street, NW, Washington, DC 2000. 2) Purchase cards without ornaments and with as few colors as possible. Prison officials usually return decorated cards for fear of drugs in the ink. Send cards to the following brothers:

Matthew Dill, Jr., 70354-007P.O. Box 900

Federal Correctional InstitutionBerlin, NH 03570

William Ray Thomas, 1110664

Red Onion State Prison10800 H

Jack Rose HighwayPound, VA 24279

Steven Allen Jones, 01860292

Texas PenitentiaryFrench M Robertson

12071 FM 3522Abilene, TX 79601

Jerome Kellum

Inmate: 360-138

Hagerstown Correctional FacilityHagerstown, MD 21746


We are grateful for your sacrifice; it helps to let our brothers know that they are not forgotten. If you need additional information, I can be reached at  443-280-0794 or I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me (Mathew 25:36).” 


No better seasons than Lent and Easter to make sacrifices and show compassion for those Jesus died to set free. In His first sermon at His hometown synagogue in Nazareth, Luke 4:16-19 reads: “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 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, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” We must never forget that at Eastertime, we commemorate God’s Son coming to Earth and accepting a horrible death on a cross, that He might set the captives free.

The Pastor’s Pen: March 31, 2019

Courtesy of Deaconess Gladys Myatt 

Women have been fighting for gender equality since 1848 during the women’s suffrage movement.  Why deny legal, economic, and social equality to the largest population of people?  Numerous sources have documented that gender equality is part of economic growth. In 2018, there were only 24 women CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies. In recent weeks, the debate regarding female athletes earning less than their male counterparts in the same sport has arisen.  In February 2019, the World Bank Group released its 10-year report on equality for women in the workforce in 187 countries.  To the dismay of women, especially women of color, the United States ranked 65.  

Shiloh has a proven leader, Deacon Jocelyn Frye-Summers, who has fought on behalf of women, girls and families in underserved and underrepresented communities for most of her life.  Several years ago while speaking at the University of Pittsburg School of Law conference, she “argued that the push between men and women should no longer be viewed as controversial.  Instead, she said, the effort should be considered an economic priority for struggling families, particularly as growing numbers of women become primary breadwinners with layoffs decimating industries dominated by men.”  She has been an activist and advocate to increase the political power of women and girls of color.

One could postulate that Deacon Frye-Summers’ activism began at Harvard when she and other students took over the dean’s office to demand more professors of color.  From that day on, she has challenged authority on gender and race issues and became an advocate for affirmative action, workplace equity, and women and families.  Deacon Frye-Summers is best known for her role as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy and Special Projects for the First Lady in the Obama Administration.  While she counseled the President on some domestic policy matters, she also spearheaded former First Lady’s childhood obesity and military families’ initiatives, managed the young women’s component of the White House Leadership and Mentoring Initiative, and oversaw the broad issue portfolio.    Deacon Frye-Summers was an Associate in the white-collar crime practice area at Crowell & Moring, a DC law firm.  Four years later she became General Counsel at the National Partnership for Women & Families.  She concentrated on employment and gender discrimination issues, with a particular emphasis on equal employment enforcement efforts and employment barriers facing women of color and low-income women.  She also testified before Congress and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on federal enforcement of employment-discrimination laws.

Currently, Deacon Frye-Summers is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.  She is a leading authority on women’s economic security and employment issues.  She helps lead policy development for the Women’s Initiative, focusing on a wide range of women’s economic security and employment issues such as work-family conflicts, pay equity, equal employment opportunities, and women’s leadership.  Deacon Frye-Summers highlights the persistent, systemic disparities in Black women’s pay and advocates for increased support for survivors of workplace sexual harassment, particularly among women of color and those in lower wage positions.  In keeping with her advocacy for women’s rights and equality, Deacon Frye-Summers spoke out against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Last fall, Deacon Frye-Summers became the Board Chair of the Ms. Foundation for Women.  She now leads the Foundation to implement a new five-year strategic plan that centers its advocacy and grant-making on women and girls of color.  

Deacon Frye-Summers received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her J.D from Harvard Law School. The women and girls of Shiloh are honored that Deacon Frye-Summers is a member of our church.  We know that her faith, dedication, courage, and passion will be central to the fight for women and girls of color.  Her story is a perfect ending for Shiloh’s 2019 Women’s History Month.