Pastor’s Blog_July 24, 2022

Last week’s anniversary service was a remarkable outpouring of love. The worship service was superb. The choir’s selections were inspirational and the tributes by the Mensah family and Rev. Thomas Bowen continue to warm our hearts. After 31 years as pastor of Shiloh, we remain pleasantly surprised by our congregation’s support. May God continue to bless and keep our wonderful Shiloh family. To God be the glory!

We reported at yesterday’s Quarterly Stewardship Meeting that our last quarter’s income was less than anticipated. Expenses, however, continued at a pace that exceeded income. As a result, we find ourselves in a challenging situation. We need Shiloh members to increase giving. A telling picture is that although we exceeded the numbers of tithers this year, income remains down. We are, therefore, asking our church family to make every effort to increase contributions.

We also reported at the meeting that we are on target to sell two properties. Yet, we cannot allow this sale to lull us into believing that our financial challenges are over. As was said at the meeting, the sale of the properties will eliminate our mortgages but will not eliminate all our debt. We know inflation rages and gasoline prices are nearly double that of a year ago, but we implore you to be prayerful about your increase in giving. As you have in the past, please respond so that we may get past the summer slump and go into the fall in a much better financial position.

Again, please increase your giving. Whatever your present level of gifts, please raise them by ten percent. With belief in God, we can achieve this goal. Amen and Hallelujah!

Blog_July 17, 2022

In July of 1991, Elaine, Christen, and I made the trek from Nashville, TN, to Washington, DC, to commence a new life. Although the three of us came initially from Philadelphia, PA, we found that DC is not a northeastern city, and that it is right on the border where North and South meet. It was astounding to me to learn that Arlington National Cemetery had been the plantation of Robert E. Lee and that one could easily walk from Lee’s former home to the Whitehouse in a relatively short time. I also learned that what people referred to as Potomac fever was real.

Once I came to the DMV, no other city could suffice. Slowly but surely, my beloved Philadelphia began to take a back seat. DC may no longer be “Chocolate City,” but it remains one of the world’s most exciting and enlivening cities. Who could ever have imagined that I would be on stage with the National Symphony Orchestra to recite a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or that I would be at the White House to witness the signing of the Arab Israeli Peace Accords, or lead Congress in an opening prayer? It has been a fantastic ride.

It has not always been easy these thirty-one years, but the Lord has blessed me to work with some of the most exemplary Christians I have known. I thank the committee that worked to bring about this day. I thank God for the love and kindness of many members and friends. 

I thank God for my wife, who has stood by me through thick and thin, and my daughter, who is fond of saying that the family moved to DC, but she lived here. I am grateful for the hard work of so many who helped to build our gorgeous church building.  I am especially thankful to the God of Heaven who allowed me to live long enough to baptize my grandsons.

Thank you, Shiloh, for thirty-one beautiful years as pastor of the most incredible church family!

Pastor’s Pen_July 10, 2022

Another gun violence tragedy struck our nation at a 4th of July parade in Highland Park, IL. This quiet sleepy little suburb of Chicago was an unlikely place to expect a mass shooting. But then again, Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde, TX, were also unlikely places. The reality is the preponderance of mass shootings has been in what mainstream Americans see as unlikely places. White America believes that such shootings must be in poor Black or Brown neighborhoods and result from turf wars and the natural propensity of minorities to be violent. Undoubtedly, drugs and other poverty-related circumstances contribute to the killings on the streets of Washington, Baltimore, and other urban enclaves. Still, America must now deal with gun violence in so-called unlikely places.

While Congress refuses to ban assault weapons, people will continue to be slaughtered in lovely treelined communities and the concrete caverns of our inner cities. Failure to recognize gun violence is not just a city’s problem but will continue to place everyone from the most affluent to the poorest in someone’s crosshairs.

Pastor’s Pen_June 26, 2022

The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe V Wade has sent our nation into a tailspin. Roe V Wade granted constitutional protection for any woman seeking an abortion. Although nearly fifty years ago, the High Court made this pro-choice decision that has stood the test of time. With this recent judgment, the Court has ended a woman’s right to abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. In their testimony and meetings with Sen. Susan Collins for a position on the Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were insistent that Justices should not overturn established law blithely, though they did just the opposite when the Court overturned Roe V Wade in Friday’s decision. Sen. Collins, by all accounts, is outraged and feels betrayed.

A woman’s right to abortion puts many of us in a difficult position. I do not support abortion on demand. I do not believe abortion should be used for birth control. However, I’m very uncomfortable being on the side of right-wingers who have made abortion the litmus test for morality, truth, and righteousness. It is a far deeper issue than many understand. Radical right wingers blow up abortion clinics and ambush and kill doctors who provide abortions. However, when a child is born, those same conservatives are entirely opposed to adequate and affordable childcare, complete medical coverage, and living wages that prevent children from growing up in poverty. They also do little to make pre-natal care and health care affordable for the working poor. Further, a child raised with inadequate schools, unchecked violence, and increasing drug abuse will often end up in prison. If a violent felony causes someone to lose their life, the same people who fought so assiduously to prevent abortion will now clamor for the death penalty to end the life of the one who they fought to keep from being aborted.

If we are indeed pro-life advocates, we should live it from the cradle to the grave. I believe that Christian people who try to live moral lives should not pick and choose the issues they will or will not support. If one is pro-life, one should be equally determined to end anti-life traumas such as poverty, violence, and drug abuse. We must start with working to alter a society that promotes violence and sex as entertainment and deem activities such as reading and watching good drama or religious programming as boring!!! We can never stop abortion if we do not view all life as given by God to be honored and celebrated. All the Supreme Court has accomplished is to drive pregnant women to back alleys with clothes hangers and witch doctoring on demand!

Pastor’s Pen_June 12, 2022

Hats off to the youth and children of Shiloh for a creative and inspiring Children’s Day Service on this National Children’s Day Observance. The music, dancing, and the total participation of our children were wonderful!  I echo the theme of today’s celebration, “Children are our investment for the future.”  Special thanks to the parents and our youth leaders for helping our children give such spirit-filled presentations. To God be the glory!

Don’t forget next Sunday’s Juneteenth celebration. We are honored that several nationally known leaders will join us in a national forum. The event starts at 4 P.M. Please plan to attend. For more information, visit:

Many watched on Thursday the House Committee’s opening hearings on the January 6 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol. I felt I had seen it all as it unfolded on live television and after endless news presentations and numerous talk show discussions. I was wrong. The Committee’s production offered videos and testimonies that made the entire sorry event show how close our nation came to an all-out collapse of our democratic principles.

Two things were evident to me. America has never dealt with the legacy of hatred from the Civil War. Secondly, had that been a Black mob storming the Capitol, the blood of those protestors would have flowed on the Capitol’s steps like water, and countless numbers would have died. This whole January 6 event proves again and again that there are two systems of justice: one Black and one White. We must teach our children that reality and never forget that ourselves!

Pastor’s Pen_June 5, 2022

Let me express my congratulations to our Social Justice Ministry (SJM) for the great work they have done on this WEAR ORANGE Weekend. The weekend was the national commemoration of all who have died from gun violence in the last several years.

The SJM held a wonderful prayer vigil Friday evening that was attended by many, including Robert Wright, candidate for Mayor of the District of Columbia.

Ayanna Hawkins, Esq., chair of the SJM, shared the following: 

“Wear Orange weekend is an annual reminder of the tragic numbers of gun violence victims. It began in 2015 in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, a young lady who participated in the second Inauguration of Barack Obama in 2013, only to be gunned down on a Chicago playground a week later. Her family and friends chose the first weekend in June 2015 to remember her on what would have been her 18th birthday. The color orange was chosen because it is the color hunters wear in the woods to increase their visibility and save lives.”

Please take a moment to view the memorial garden the SJM created on the corner of our parking lot. You will see the names of some of the recent victims as well as stuffed toys and other mementos to let the families of the victims know that their loved ones are not forgotten here at Shiloh. The SJM works tirelessly to provide the information and offer initiatives that keep us engaged in the work of standing up to injustices. Please keep this vital ministry in your prayers and participate in their worthwhile efforts.

Pastor’s Pen_May 29, 2022

Although we have barely processed the racist killings in Buffalo, New York, on May 25, the nation experienced the carnage of 19 children and two teachers killed in Uvalde, Texas.

African American people and people of goodwill everywhere remain sickened by the hate killings in Buffalo, leading many to contend that right-wing conservatives are opposed to Critical Race Theory (although not taught in public schools) because they do not want this nation and the world to discuss the murderous rampages against Black people that’s embedded in our national story. Bigots slaughtered Blacks in the New York draft riots on July 13-16, 1863. From May 31-June 1, 1921, the financial district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was decimated and thousands were massacred in the terrible carnage and brutality of racist riots. The Buffalo slayings are only the most recent examples of mass violence against Black people in this nation.

Now we grieve the loss of children. Particularly egregious was the statement by Texas Governor Abbot that gun control was not the issue. If the 18-year-old who simply walked into a store and purchased automatic weapons had been questioned, if not stopped, 21 people could still be alive. In that vein, we have been encouraged by the former chair of our Social Justice Ministry to sign on to the following statement issued by the DC Area Interfaith Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) Network:  

“In recent days, the Presbyterian Church, Office of Public Witness, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (the “largest public service organization comprised of predominantly college-educated African-American women”) have issued powerful statements condemning the racially motivated, premeditated mass shooting on May 14, 2022, in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 African Americans and injuring three others, and the killing on May 15, 2022, of a Taiwanese-American doctor in a Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California.”

The DC Area Interfaith GVP Network is a coalition of volunteers from churches, synagogues, and mosques who have agreed to receive and disseminate information to congregants, clergy, and others interested in working to prevent and reduce gun violence. 

With this sorry legacy so evident, I want to commend our Social Justice Ministry for hosting a vigil on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, Friday, June 3, 2022. Attendees may bring pictures, newspaper articles, flowers, battery-operated candles, stuffed animals, and other personal items to display at the vigil and throughout the weekend. We hope that this public memorial attracts the attention of elected officials and those seeking office so that they can see the impact gun violence has had on this community and across the District of Columbia. During our worship service on Sunday, June 5, we will honor the 10 victims of the white supremacist gunman in Buffalo and all lives cut short by gun violence. Everyone is encouraged to wear orange June 3-5 and join the Social Justice Ministry in advocating for common-sense gun laws and violence disruption programs in our community.

Pastor’s Pen_May 22, 2022

Just when we think we have seen it all, the right-wing, with its QAnon theories, discovers an insidious way to justify murdering Black people. It is called ‘replacement theory.’ Promoted by Tucker Carlson on Fox News, replacement theory has become the right wing’s dog whistle to motivate the Republican party’s far right conspiracy theory. Replacement theory is the idea that the population growth of black and brown people, promoted by the Democrats, ensures that white people will no longer be the majority in this nation. Carlson’s rhetoric falsely claims that native-born white people will be replaced by people of color and immigrants. Of course, we cannot forget our Jewish brothers and sisters who are not a threat to replace white people but remain high on the right wing’s hate list.

The egregious example of replacement theory that occurred last Saturday featured a racist who drove three hours from his home to a neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, to murder Black people. He targeted this community because of its large number of black citizens. So, he drove to Buffalo to kill total strangers intentionally and indiscriminately. He turned a marketplace into a shooting gallery and, in his wake, left 10 people dead and several wounded. He gleefully utilized his newly purchased automatic rifle and body armor like a child on Christmas morning playing war games. The body armor prevented him from being disabled by the security guard, who bravely returned fire, but the body armor protected the shooter and gave him the time to kill the guard.

What can we take away from this tragic account? Many of us have lamented for years that gun violence must end and that there is no need for automatic weapons on the streets of our nation. As much as we sing “Kumbaya” around the campfire and listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, hatred is still alive and well. The nation is rife with venomous feelings that originated before the Civil War. We must not sleep through the right wing’s dog whistles of hidden racism. Although we develop political, social, and psychological strategies to combat this evil, when it’s all said and done, the words of the gospel song say it best, “If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now.”

Pastor’s Pen_May 8, 2022

As the nation turns its thoughts to our mothers, we recall that women in the 21st century face extraordinary challenges. Women of color occupy the lowest rung of the economic ladder. Skyrocketing inflation, grocery bills, gas prices, and essential medical services are spiraling out of control. Add to that, rising costs of housing and childcare, and we witness the grim picture of what women experience at this moment in history.

What we celebrate on this Mother’s Day is the remarkable resilience of Black women. In the horrible days of slavery, Black women were whipped and brutalized alongside men. In the 19th century, when white women were placed on pedestals by a society that considered them too delicate and fragile for work, Black women worked the fields. If they were pregnant, they gave birth and were expected to return to the fields and resume their work the same day. When we consider all these factors, it is clear why Langston Hughes, in his poem, “Mother to a Son”: “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. It’s had tacks in it, and splinters, and boards torn up, and places with no carpet on the floor.”

For what our women endured and have accomplished, on this day, we say thank you to Black women everywhere.