The Pastor’s Pen: July 28, 2019

In one of his most memorable sermons, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright built his message on a poem by Sterling Brown, and talked about how strong people of faith have always been the building blocks of the Christian church. We are now in the third week of our Covenant Commitment Campaign. The response has been extraordinary! Our pledge amounts are tracking on par with our goal of $150,000.00 by September 30. For those who have pledged, please remember that we are asking that your pledges are paid in full by September 15.

Strong men and women of faith have continued to accept the challenge. We must acknowledge the faith and commitment of one of our former members, Dr. Constance Webster, who relocated to Hampton, Virginia a year ago. Our Senior Choir was in concert last Sunday at First Baptist Church of Hampton (FBCH), where Dr. Webster is now a member.  Prior to the Senior Choir’s trip to Hampton, Dr. Webster became aware of our summer slump and our ask (the Campaign) to meet the challenge.  Without solicitation, Dr. Webster attended the concert with check in hand, a substantial check, to contribute to the Campaign. We thank God for Dr. Webster and her dedication to Shiloh, although an active member of FBCH. We thank God for all members who are making this initiative successful.  Substantive or small, we are grateful for your sacrifice. Indeed, strong men and women of faith, keep on coming. To God be the glory!

There is an old adage trial lawyers use: “When a lawyer has the facts on his or her side, they should pound on the facts. If they do not have the facts, they should pound on the table.” In the Mueller hearings last Tuesday, there was a great deal of pounding on the table. Supporters of the President rarely had facts to back up their arguments; they resorted to a great deal of pounding. The shrill and red-faced attacks were more reminiscent of a Southern Baptist revival service than a Congressional hearing. As has been reported ad infinitum, the entire hearings produced little new information. However, the hardened positions and the lack of factual information on the part of the President’s supporters were shocking. The only thing missing in their diatribes was the chant, “lock her up.”

The poet, James Russell Lowell, penned it best, “Truth pressed to the ground will rise again.” Against a group of hardened right-wingers, the only redress will happen at the polls in November 2020. The argument too often heard during the 2016 election — that voting really didn’t matter because there was no difference between the candidates — has proven to be the lie that birthed the present chaos in our society. Mr. Mueller made it clear that Russians, in a sweeping fashion, interfered with the last election and are prepared to do so again. However, people of faith have always understood that there is a power greater than any government in the world. That power is the justice of God. Psalm 127 states, “Unless the Lord builds the house those who build it labor in vain.” Our strategy will be to get people registered, get them to the polls, and then turn over Russian meddling to God. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

The Pastor’s Pen: July 21, 2019

I begin this week’s Pen by extending hearty congratulations to Brother Jeffrey Chapman of Sacrifice-Unity Circle for completing his autobiography. Shiloh has been praying for and supporting Jeffrey for several years. Many of us are aware that Jeffrey was rendered quadriplegic following a tragic shooting.  He has since crafted greeting cards and scripture-sharing ministry with members of our congregation. Jeffrey’s accomplishment will be celebrated at an author’s party; see below for details.

What we have all known most of our lives has become a national conversation — that a number of white Americans are racists, pure and simple. Sadly, we witnessed an example of racism played out, once again, by none other than the president.  Trump posted a series of racist tweets attacking four Democratic women of color in the House of Representatives, suggesting that they “go back” to “the crime-infested places from which they came”, in an effort to silence the women. That kind of rhetoric, especially from a sitting president, is unacceptable on so many levels until it is almost impossible to describe. As has been reported, all of these women are either native-born or naturalized citizens of the United States. The president has mastered equating loyalty to him and loyalty to the nation. At a rally Wednesday night in North Carolina, Trump led his base in cheers of, “Send her back,” referring to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. The crowd enthusiastically joined in on the mantra in much the same way they joined lustily in the invective against Hillary Clinton of, “Lock her up.” The irony is that it’s many of the president’s insiders who have been, or soon will be, locked up.

The ignorance and lack of unthinking and uninformed racism surrounding this discussion was exemplified by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who fumbled when asked by a reporter if this “send her back chant” would apply to his immigrant wife, if the president disagreed with her as well. McConnell had no answer, and the lame answer that he provided, that his “wife came to this country [and] was naturalized as a citizen,” would also apply to Congresswoman Omar. We are in a disgusting and frightful time in the history of our country. As we have written about previously, this nation is more divided than it has been at any time since the Civil War. Thanks to the president’s racist leadership, all the women of color in the House of Representatives will now be targets for weak-minded, deranged and crazed racists who might take the president’s remarks as the go-ahead for removing the women, “by any means necessary.”

Only God can bring healing to these hate-filled angry times in which we, especially people of color, live and experience far too often. God made it plainly clear in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

“Author’s Party” for Jeffrey Chapman

Saturday, July 27, 2019

12 Noon to 3 P.M.

7740 Marlborough Pike

Forestville, MD  20747

For more information, see Deacon Roland Hill

The Pastor’s Pen: July 14, 2019

We welcome to our pulpit today, the Reverend Kevin L. Peterman, a new member to our church and an exceptional preacher. In a short time, we have witnessed and experienced his anointing as a preacher, teacher, and leader of our young adults. We thank God for Rev. Peterman and his captivating old-style delivery, and know he will bring a powerful, spiritually up-lifting Word from the Lord.


Let me express my deepest appreciation for the awesome response of the Shiloh family to the Covenant Commitment Campaign that we launched a week ago. Whenever we have faced challenges, Shiloh has always responded favorably. We know the Lord is on our side and with the Lord’s help, we will be victorious.

We continue to thank God for the tremendous work of all who have worked with our Reimagining Shiloh team. We have decided that we will not rest this summer but will continue laying the groundwork and preparing for an exciting new church year. The overall question is, “How can we be the best church we can be?” The political, social, economic, and moral anxieties of our time are adversely impacting our churches. A large majority of white evangelicals have made it clear that a politician’s most abhorrent behavior is acceptable as long as the politician says what they want to hear. As in the time of Ahab and Jezebel, God’s Word is the only antidote for rampant evil. The world needs the church now more than ever. Yet, we cannot be unmindful that communicating a message in this technological age must be different than it was 2,000 years ago, when runners ran from village to village to communicate news of victory or defeat in a war. That same message today can be communicated electronically in a nanosecond. As desperately as the world needs the Word of God, the Word yet cannot be delivered through ancient methods; services cannot last several hours; snail mail can no longer be the way we contact members; music must inspire and uplift; and sermons must be crisp and to the point. These are but a few of the internal challenges churches face today.  We are grateful to God that our church family is rolling up our sleeves and embracing our new initiatives. With the help of the Lord, we will prevail!

The Pastor’s Pen: July 7, 2019

The 30th division of Psalms verse 5 states, “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” There are times in life when we feel alone and even abandoned. Over the years, I have encountered a number of people who have felt that God has abandoned them and therefore God really must not care about them. Perhaps one of the most difficult things in life is learning how to cope with breaking points, such as unexpected financial challenges or unforeseen illness and death. It is in such times, as much as we might think otherwise, when the random and seemingly capricious nature of God is hard to understand. Many are the times that I have pondered why there seems to be no correlation between living a good life or an evil one when it comes to earthly rewards. Present leadership of our nation offers an excellent example. President Barack Obama was constantly vilified by the right wing of this country. Senator Mitch McConnell has anointed and appointed himself as the gravedigger of American democracy — destroying norms and sending the message that anything sent to him from the Democrats would be “dead on arrival.” President Obama did his very best to get a Supreme Court hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, but McConnell insisted that the hearing was too close to the election and that the electorate should be given the opportunity to decide who would occupy seats on the nation’s highest court through their votes. Mr. Trump’s election insured that Mitch McConnell and the nation’s right wing would have ample opportunity to pack the Court with like minds who could pen their conservative decisions on the most sensitive issues facing the nation. I personally believe Barack Obama was a fine president; he served this nation with distinction and integrity. Three years into his presidency, Donald Trump has demonstrated that he has a penchant for lies, he never apologizes, and he has established an alternate reality and can unashamedly declare of those in Charlottesville, Virginia who resorted to murdering a peaceful protestor and of those protestors who peacefully stood against Right Wing agitators, that there were good and bad on both sides. Mr. Obama, though not perfect, is basically a good man. Donald Trump, on the other hand, a man whose behavior is fundamentally evil, still receives blessings, whether from God or not remains to be seen.

 Matthew 5:45 states, “God maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” We don’t know why evil is allowed to run unchecked. Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor, former pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church of New York City once said, “We do not know why God permits evil but there must be a reason as we know that God is loving and compassionate, and therefore created for us the best world possible.”

There are many questions that will go unanswered in our lifetimes, but the one thing which we can count on in spite of evil’s existence, is God’s ultimate power over evil. God has the whole world in His hands. Psalm 30:5 gives us that blessed assurance that “anger may endure for a moment, weeping for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

The Pastor’s Pen: June 30, 2019

The prophet Jeremiah recounts some of the amazing achievements of Elijah’s protégé, Elisha, in II Kings 6:1-4.  Elisha healed Naaman, the Syrian, of leprosy, he restored life to the son of the Shunamite woman, and clairvoyantly listened to the plans of the King of Aram and communicated those plans back to the King of Israel so that Israel could avoid several military disasters. For all the miraculous achievements Elisha has accomplished, a little-known story found in II Kings offers encouragement for all those facing desperate situations. In this account, one of Elisha’s students is chopping wood with a borrowed ax. The iron axe head flies off the handle, falls into the water and sinks. Elisha’s servant is frantic because what has been lost is a borrowed item. Calmly, Elisha asked the young man to point to where the ax had fallen in the water and sank. God used Elisha to bring the ax head to the surface by throwing a stick in the area where it sank. The ax head floated to the top of the stream where the young man was able to grab it.

Elisha’s story is an encouragement to any facing seemingly impossible circumstances. Every summer our congregation faces the challenge of reduced offerings. This year is particularly difficult because of the new covenant we had to establish as a part of the refinancing of our church mortgage. This story of Elisha reminds us that even when circumstances pose serious challenges, we must never allow problems to cause us to lose faith. Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” When we face hurdles and obstacles, we never face them alone.  We have so much for which to be thankful. Psalm 46:1 states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Over the years, Shiloh has lost a number of stalwart members through death, yet, we continue to experience a revival of the spirit. Through the leadership of Nicole Lamb-Hale and Antonio McLaren, we are reimagining Shiloh to face the new realities of the 21st Century. We will develop ways and means to secure state-of-the-art technology and use a variety of methods to creatively communicate God’s Word through Bible study, evangelism, and outreach. With the excellent leadership of our deacons, we have begun and will continue to connect with our new neighbors and businesses. Through the wise administration of our trustees, we are managing resources carefully and prudently.

 Churches often refer to the summer months as the slump months. Attendance tends to fall off, there are gaps in communication and planning, and churches tend to experience the dreaded summertime giving slump. However, God has blessed us inordinately. We will roll up our sleeves and meet and exceed our summer goals in all ways. Elisha shows us the way. With the power of faith, we can and will make the iron swim.

The Pastor’s Pen: June 23, 2019

There is an epidemic spreading throughout America at an alarming rate. It is more virulent and infectious than anything witnessed in recent memory. No, it is not the return of measles, a disease thought all but eradicated in the last 20 years. It is the epidemic of anger. Talk radio has become a nonstop flow of invectives usually ranting against any and everything and person that does not look or think as we do. At campaign rallies, 45 was not hesitant about encouraging his supporters to beat the hell out of any person who dared to protest at a MAGA rally. In a public pronouncement, he encouraged law enforcement officers to be less than gentle when taking someone into custody, a complete denial of the fact that Eric Garner’s arrest and subsequent choking death by police was an example that law enforcement needs no encouragement to be less than gentle when making arrests. The whole of society seems to reflect the crowd anger at World Wrestling Federation matches, crying for blood and carnage meted out against any who are viewed as enemies.

The proliferation of anger in society is an expression of the social insanity that has been unleashed in the 20th and 21st centuries. In Luke 8, the story is told of a man who is not in his right mind. He lives in the graveyard, exhibits violent fits and must be restrained to prevent him from hurting others or himself. Luke tells us that although the man was not a Jew, Jesus healed him. The demons in him were dispersed into a herd of pigs that stampeded off a cliff to their deaths. Many scholars contend that the shrieks of the evil spirits exiting the man caused the panic and hurdled the swine off the cliffs.  When the townspeople heard the commotion, they came to where the man resided and amazingly found him sitting at Jesus’s feet, clothed and in his right mind.

One could make the case that the man’s derangement is akin to the social insanity of anger hatred and rage that plague society. More and more Americans of all races are living in the graveyards of dead dreams and deceased hopes. The death of a productive future has driven many people to a social insanity that manifests itself as unchecked anger. No one quite knows where this societal rage originated, but as with the deranged man in Luke’s gospel, the cure to mental illness, personal or societal, is Jesus.

When MAGA rallies encourage violence, all of us must encourage peace through listening and understanding, as is stated in our church covenant that we must “be slow to take offense but always ready for reconciliation…” If we introduce Jesus into our conversations, the world will see formerly crazed and angry men and women, now in the presence of Jesus, clothed and in their right minds.