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COMMENTARY: Faith is Not Religion Never Was Never Has Been

NNPA_NEWSWIRE — Jesus died to save us from us. Hence, God’s grace gives us insight that in Christ, salvation is still ours if we only give all things up to the indisputable mercy of God and His love for us.

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By James A. Washington, Publisher of the Dallas Weekly, NNPA Newswire Contributor

A minister friend of mine once told me that a person can have theology but no faith. He told me this because at one time I was considering going to school to study the bible. My friend, recognizing that I was a rookie trying to crack the starting lineup for Christ, suggested maybe a different course of action would be better for me and I now know he was correct.

You see most of my life I could intellectualize myself out of or into any situation. Therefore, as you can imagine, my brain was easily corrupted by Satan so much so that I never really accepted Christ into my life, although I considered myself a good and decent person.

That was the point according to my minister friend. Many people can quote scripture and are experts in what the bible says, but clearly, they have little to no faith. So instead of surrounding yourself with academicians, surround yourself with people who are believers first.

I have since found his words prophetic, because one of my blind spots dealing with faith was the hypocritical nature of scripture quoting Christians, who obviously demonstrated little faith from Sunday to Sunday. From the pulpit to the pew, it was enough to keep me out of church. That mindset you see made a winner out of the devil and a loser out of me.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6. Now for people of faith, that makes a lot of sense. I hear all the time that God is not a God of confusion. He has in fact made this thing rather simple.

I believe James when he says faith by itself if not accompanied by some display of works is dead. I now also believe that faith, real faith in the Almighty, demands a change in us. Faith demands that we do something, act in such a manner that those who know us best, see an attempt to walk in the ways of Christ.

There is nothing intellectual about this and I’m glad to have been hungry enough for the Word, that it led me to others’ hunger just like mine.

Now when I go to church and see what I deem hypocrisy, I cannot respond intellectually or even emotionally anymore. I am not now nor have I ever been in a position to cast the first stone.

Isn’t that the point? “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16. Human beings sin and make mistakes against God. It is in our nature. Faith enters the picture as we come to realize the mystery of the gospel. Jesus died to save us from us. Hence, God’s grace gives us insight that in Christ, salvation is still ours if we only give all things up to the indisputable mercy of God and His love for us.

Once you step to Him, then life and death become pretty clear. Faith dictates that we know all of us are not worthy. We are all sinners. We all belong in the Lord’s house as often as possible, because we all do things in our own best interest as opposed to God’s. Hypocrites are hypocrites. I can’t do anything about that. I can however, recognize, how important it is to acknowledge that I’m a long way from being perfect. So is everyone else.

One of the things a faith walk will do is to give you the strength necessary to admit and then submit. Being with others who know this is as important as knowing it for yourself.

At that point theology becomes obvious and faith becomes tangible, so tangible in fact that you can see it, touch it and subsequently act on it. It doesn’t make you perfect but it sure does show, or at least it’s supposed to. May God bless and keep you always.

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WATCH LIVE! — NNPA 2023 National Leadership Awards Reception

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Welcome to the NNPA 2023 National Leadership Awards Reception
The post WATCH LIVE! — NNPA 2023 National Leadership Awards Reception first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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OP-ED: Delivering Climate Resilience Funding to Communities that Need it the Most

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Just last month, FEMA announced nearly $3 billion in climate mitigation project selections nationwide to help communities build resilience through its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) national competition and Flood Mitigation Assistance program. In total, more than 50% of these projects will benefit disadvantaged communities, and in particular, 70% of BRIC projects will do the same.
The post OP-ED: Delivering Climate Resilience Funding to Communities that Need it the Most first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Erik A. Hooks, FEMA Deputy Administrator

We know that disasters do not discriminate. Yet, recovery from the same event can be uneven from community to community, perpetuating pre-existing inequalities. Recognizing these disparities, FEMA and the entire Biden-Harris Administration have prioritized equity when it comes to accessing federal programs and resources.

The numbers tell the story.

Just last month, FEMA announced nearly $3 billion in climate mitigation project selections nationwide to help communities build resilience through its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) national competition and Flood Mitigation Assistance program. In total, more than 50% of these projects will benefit disadvantaged communities, and in particular, 70% of BRIC projects will do the same.

These selections further underscore the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to equity and reaffirm FEMA’s mission of helping people before, during and after disasters, delivering funding to the communities that need it most.

Building on this momentum and our people-first approach, FEMA recently announced the initial designation of nearly 500 census tracts, which will be eligible for increased federal support to become more resilient to natural hazards and extreme weather worsened by the climate crisis. FEMA will use “Community Disaster Resilience Zone” designations to direct and manage financial and technical assistance for resilience projects nationwide, targeting communities most at risk due to climate change. More Community Disaster Resilience Zone designations, including tribal lands and territories, are expected to be announced in the fall of 2023.

These types of investments have, and will yield a significant return on investment for communities nationwide.

For example, in my home state of North Carolina, the historic community of Princeville, founded by freed African American slaves, uses BRIC funding to move vulnerable homes and critical utilities out of flood-prone areas.

In East Harlem, BRIC dollars will provide nature-based flood control solutions to mitigate the impacts of extreme rainfall events in the Clinton low-income housing community.

While we are encouraged by these investments, we know more must be done.

Not every community has the personnel, the time or the resources to apply for these federal dollars. Fortunately, FEMA offers free, Direct Technical Assistance to help under-resourced communities navigate the grant application process and get connected with critical resources. Under the leadership of FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, this assistance has been a game-changer, reducing barriers and providing even more flexible, customer-focused, tailored support to communities interested in building and sustaining successful resilience programs.

In Eastwick, Philadelphia, FEMA’s dedicated support helped the city with outreach to multiple federal agencies. Together, we built a comprehensive community-led flood mitigation strategy. When applied and implemented, this will make this community more resilient to hazards like flooding, which was negatively affecting many neighborhood blocks.

In DePue, Illinois, we worked hand-in-hand with communities to improve their ability to submit high-quality funding applications for hazard mitigation projects. We are happy to share that DePue is the first Direct Technical Assistance community to be selected in the BRIC national competition. And, we know they will not be the last. Thanks to this assistance and their ambition, DePue was awarded more than $20 million to build a new wastewater treatment plant, which will reduce flooding and raw sewage back-up into the basements of homes.

In total, our agency is working with over 70 communities, including tribal nations, to increase access to funding for mitigation projects that will make communities more livable and resilient.

With extreme weather events becoming increasingly intense and frequent due to climate change, we must keep pressing forward and continue investing in ways to better protect ourselves and our neighbors. And we are encouraged that local officials are engaging with us to learn more about the benefits of the BRIC non-financial Direct Technical Assistance initiative—just last week, we saw hundreds of participants nationwide register for a recent webinar on this important topic.

We want to see even more communities take advantage of this initiative, and, ultimately, obtain grants for innovative and forward-looking resilience projects. To that end, FEMA recently published a blog with five steps to help local communities and tribal nations learn more about the benefits of this non-financial technical assistance to access federal funding. I hope your community will take action and submit a letter of interest for this exciting opportunity and increase meaningful mitigation work throughout the country.

With the pace of disasters accelerating, communities can utilize federal resources to reduce their risk and take action to save property and lives. FEMA stands ready to be a partner and collaborator with any community that is ready to implement creative mitigation strategies and help build our nation’s resilience.

The post OP-ED: Delivering Climate Resilience Funding to Communities that Need it the Most first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Tale of Two Underground Railroad Communities

ARIZONA INFORMANT — Prior to the Civil War, many communities in the Ohio River Valley were a part of an elaborate system that provided resources and protection for enslaved persons from Southern states on their journey to freedom. Once someone crossed the Ohio River, they traveled along unknown terrain of trails to safe houses and hiding places that would become known as the Underground Railroad. 
The post Tale of Two Underground Railroad Communities first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Christopher J. Miller, Sr. Director of Education & Community Engagement, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Christopher J. Miller

Christopher J. Miller

September is International Underground Railroad Month.

This proclamation began in the State of Maryland in 2019, and now more than 11 States officially celebrate one of the most significant eras in U.S. history. With the signing of Ohio HB 340 in June 2022, Ohio became the 12th state to designate September International Underground Railroad Month.

Many history enthusiasts and scholars hope the momentum of the proclamation spreads to other states so that all our forebears of freedom are remembered.

Examining this era, you find that the Ohio River Valley is instrumental in the many narratives of freedom seekers. These stories are critical to our understanding of race relations and civic responsibilities.

Before the Civil War, many communities in the Ohio River Valley were part of an elaborate system that provided resources and protection for enslaved persons from Southern states on their journey to freedom. Once someone crossed the Ohio River, they traveled along unknown terrain of trails to safe houses and hiding places that would become known as the Underground Railroad.

Gateway to Freedom sign

Gateway to Freedom sign

The Underground Railroad was comprised of courageous people who were held to a higher law that confronted the institution of slavery with acts of civil disobedience by helping freedom seekers elude enslavers and slave hunters and help them get to Canada.

Many communities were a force for freedom along the more than 900-mile stretch of the Ohio River Valley, but I would like to focus on two significant communities.

Southern Indiana was a major part of this history. It was originally believed that there were from Posey to South Bend, Corydon to Porter, and Madison to DeKalb County, with many stops in between.

In further examination, the Underground Railroad in Indiana was a web of trails through the forests, swamps, briars, and dirt roads. The city that is often overlooked in reflecting on the history of the Underground Railroad is New Albany, Indiana.

By 1850, New Albany was the largest city in Indiana, with a population of 8,632. Free Blacks accounted for 502 of that population. Across the river, Louisville was Kentucky’s largest city, with a population of 42,829. A quarter of the 6,687 Black population were free in Louisville.

Town Clock Church (aerial view)

Town Clock Church (aerial view)

Louisville and New Albany would grow to become a significant region for Underground Railroad activity. People like Henson McIntosh became a prominent community member and major Underground Railroad conductor. McIntosh was one of approximately ten Underground Railroad agents in New Albany who used their wealth and influence to impact the lives of freedom seekers crossing the Ohio River.

The Carnegie Center for Art & History is an outstanding resource that continues to preserve New Albany’s role during the Underground Railroad era. Approximately 104 miles east along the Ohio River is another institution that plays a critical role in elevating the profile of the Underground Railroad on a national scope.

Inside Town Clock Church New Albany Indiana safe house

Inside Town Clock Church New Albany Indiana safe house

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio.

By 1850, Cincinnati would grow to be the 6th largest city in the Union, with a sizable Black population.

The Freedom Center is prominently located in the heart of a historic Black community called Little Africa. Although the community no longer exists, its legacy lives on through the Freedom Center.

As with New Albany, the community that resided along the banks of the river served an important role in the story of the Underground Railroad. Little Africa was the gateway to freedom for thousands of freedom seekers escaping slavery.

Although there were Underground Railroad networks throughout the country, Ohio had the most active network of any other state, with approximately 3,000 miles of routes used by an estimated 40,000 freedom seekers that crossed through Little Africa.

Despite the growth of enslavement leading up to the Civil War, communities such as Little Africa and New Albany reveal the realities regarding race relations and a model for the dignity of human life through their respective efforts to be kind and resilient friends for the freedom seekers.

For More Information:

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – https://freedomcenter.org/

Cincinnati Tourism – https://www.visitcincy.com/

Carnegie Center for Art & History – https://carnegiecenter.org/

Southern Indiana Tourism – https://www.gosoin.com/

The post Tale of Two Underground Railroad Communities first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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