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Spiritually Speaking: Better Him Than Me

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James Washington

by James Washington
Special to the NNPA from Dallas Weekly

Is it really possible to put your life in the hands of the Lord? To some modest extent I have experienced the effect of trying to do just that. I can’t say how successful I’ve been but, I ask the question of you because I feel obligated to share the exhilaration. Exhilaration may be a poor choice of words, but it comes close to describing the emotion associated with an honest effort. And, honest effort is again why I ask the question. Is it possible for you to really get inside of what putting your life in the hands of God really means? I can only share with you what I think.

The obstacles in the way of making an honest effort to embrace and step to God are at times huge and obvious. At other times they are so subtle they’re practically indiscernible. For example, pride can get in the way because pride has no place in the relationship between you and God. Then the truth be told, pride has no place in your relationships with your fellow man either. To pride, you can always add envy, vanity, greed, lust, selfishness and bitterness just to name a few more impediments to an honest attempt to let God order your steps in His Word. In sports they say it’s not whether you fall or fail, it’s what you do after you fall and fail, because you’re definitely going to do both. Time and again we fall. Time and again we fail. It’s part of the reality of life; also necessary parts of the Christian experience. The question always has been, what do you do next? Is it possible in the context of your reality to get up dust yourself off and try again to put your life in God’s hands? Many of us, including me, especially me, want to hold on to our own abilities to solve our own problems, cure our own ills (sinful natures) and figure our way out of impossible circumstances by ourselves. We routinely pass judgment, think and act as if we’re better than others and give God no credit for the many blessings we do have.

The positives (of life) are due to our own ingenuity and the negatives are blamed on everybody else but us. Now let’s see you make the effort. Let go and let God. Submit first and then see what God has to say about your situation. Without this submission, I don’t think any of us is in a position to first hear and then listen to the Word of God. Y’all know I believe Satan shouts and God whispers. If you’ve ever been whispered to when you think the person speaking is saying something important, then you know your capacity to shut the world up and out. You can be anywhere and hear a whisper, just like a parent who can hear their child’s voice in a sea of young faces on a crowded playground. I believe if we put forth the effort, we can hear God tell us how to give our lives to Him. There is a singularity to hearing God’s Word. He is specific in what He says to you as opposed to what He says to me. That singularity becomes a plurality as we begin to understand His message, if not His words. They are intended to have the same effect on each of us. It’s like an optical illusion. Once you finally see it, you can’t from that point on, not see it. Once you get someone else to see it, he or she can’t-not recognize it from that point on either. It is, well, exhilarating. Failure is then only a byproduct of lack of effort. But the saved make the sincere effort. It’s not always successful. But it’s always there. The key is to build upon the successes of putting things in the hands of God is take it one success at a time. Do not, I repeat do not dwell on the failures one failure at a time. Therein lies the answer to my original question. You can do it and God expects it to be done one step, one day and one situation at a time. “So then dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation….”2 Peter 3:14-15.

May God bless and keep you always.

Bay Area

THE DISTINGUISHED JARENA LEE AWARD PRESENTED TO OAKLAND SENIOR PASTOR

Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 476 34th Street Oakland, California is excited to announce that Rev. Dr. Rosalynn Brookins, senior pastor was awarded the auspicious Jarena Lee Award.

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Historic rendition of Jarena Lee, the first female preacher in the A.M.E. church

  Dr. Rosalyn Brookins. Courtesy of Parks Chapel A.M.E. Church.

Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 476 34th Street Oakland, California is excited to announce that Rev. Dr. Rosalynn Brookins, senior pastor was awarded the auspicious Jarena Lee Award.

Jarena Lee (February 11, 1783 – February 3, 1864) was the first female authorized to preach in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. History shows she was born into a free, Black family. Lee saw the immorality of slavery.  At a time period of segregation and inequity, A.M.E. Church founder Richard Allen gave her the opportunity for her voice to be heard despite the fact that there were no provisions for a female to preach. Rev. Lee showed determination to let her voice be heard and to share the holy word, despite racial and gender issues.  Further, Lee was the first African American woman to have an autobiography published in the United States.

During the 5th Episcopal District A.M.E. Founder’s Day Service, the Award was presented to Brookins by Rev. Carieta Grizzell, president of Women in Ministry and pastor of Murph-Emmanuel Church in Sacramento, Ca.  This esteemed award is the highest commendation that a female minister can receive in the A.M.E. Church.

There are many parallels between  Lee and  Brookins.  They both blazed a path forward through adverse circumstances and applied the lessons they learned to their spirituality.  Their similar experiences as female ministers reinforce their relationship with God.  They maintained a steadfast hope in and a strong love for his divine majesty.  

Brookins is the only Episcopal supervisor of the Women’s Mission Society for the A.M.E. Church to be given a pastoral appointment as senior pastor.

Brookins earned her doctoral degree from Payne Theological Seminary in 2018, making her the first inaugurated female to be conferred with the noted degree.  She was the commencement speaker during the graduation.  Her dissertation was entitled “The Rebirth of the Woman’s Prophetic Voice: Using Liberation Theology to Impact the Local Congregation.” 

In 2018, Brookins presented a pilot program in South Africa and subsequently launched the Global School of the Prophets.  While there are many prophetic schools, this is the only type of school that ministers to both clergy and lay women. Brookins exudes great enthusiasm and passion about teaching and she graciously shares her expertise regarding prophecy.  Her courses provide an overview and structure that encourage individuals to develop, explore and expand their prophetic knowledge and understanding.   

The highly organized and comprehensive curriculum includes coverage of the Introduction and  Origin of the Prophetic; Prophetic Call;  Prophetic Ministry;  Prophetic Terminology; Nine Prophetic Traits, and Prophetic Training and the Church.   Students currently participating in the second cohort of the Global School are from the United States, India, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Belize and Trinidad. 

Just as Lee showed a drive and commitment to serve,  Brookins has the same qualities.  She is an honorable, steadfast pastor who is obedient to all that God has called her to do.  She is a strong leader, and a visionary who genuinely loves preaching the word of God.  Rev. Brookins’ unconditional love and genuine personality has touched the hearts of many.  Her prophetic ministry, powerful sermons and prayers consistently instill hope and inspiration. 

Lee traveled extensively preaching the word of God.  Rev. Brookins has preached the gospel in multiple pulpits across the country, including Canada, Zambia, India and South Africa. 

Regarding his mother’s receipt of this prestigious award, Sir Wellington Hartford Brookins said “I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of my mother.  She is an example of perseverance and daring determination.  She inspires me to move forward every single day and that’s why this award means so much to her and to me.”

Brookins said she is “humbled that the men and women of God felt I deserved such an award. I am moved that God saw it fitting for me to receive such an honorable award.”

The Jerena Lee Award is an amazing recognition of the contributions of Rev. Brookins to the theological foundations of the church as a whole.

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Bay Area

Phyllis Scott is First Woman Elected President of Pastors of Oakland

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Pastor Phyllis Scott leads Tree of Life Ministries in Oakland

Pastor Phyllis Scott, founder and senior pastor of Tree of Life Empowerment Ministries church, has been elected to become the first woman pastor to hold the position of president of the Pastors of Oakland Association.

Pastor Scott brings 17 years of pastoral leadership experience in the city of Oakland. 

She said, “given the times that we live in now where we are being challenged daily by the COVID19 pandemic, racism, poverty, homelessness, closed schools, closed houses of worship and racially motivated violence, we need a vision for the Pastors of Oakland that unites us in bringing about the Shalom of the city through our interfaith solidarity and community awareness.”  

Scott told the Post that the association is a body of Pastors that reflect the city’s diverse cultures.  “We are an association made up of men, women, Black, Brown and Asian brothers and sisters, all with one thing in common. We know that Jesus Christ is LORD.”

For more information on the Pastors of Oakland, please call 510688-7437 

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Activism

Faith-Based Groups Support Councilmembers Bas, Fife in Call to Support Asian Residents

“I am very appreciative of the community efforts and leadership of Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato-Bas, Councilmember Carrol Fife and the Black Housing Union promoting unity, solidarity and peace in the streets of Oakland,” said Chambers who is pastor of West Side Missionary Baptist Church

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More than 50 cars paraded last week in a caravan of support for Asian residents who have been recently targeted for violence. Left to right, Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas is shown with Michelle Myles Chambers, Rev. Ken Chambers, and District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife who called for community support

Last Saturday, members of the Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) joined with Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife, who organized a broad-based community demonstration of support for the Asian residents that have recently suffered violent attacks since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the country.

Besides the name-calling and other overt and subtle racism that have arisen with the encouragement of former Pres. Donald Trump, at least 20 attacks and robberies have occurred in Oakland’s Chinatown since the New Year, mostly targeting women and elders.

To support Oakland’s Asian businesses and residents, Fife and ICAC organized a caravan demonstration of support of about 50 vehicles. They started in DeFremery Park and wended their way up 14th street and over Webster street to the heart of Chinatown at Ninth street where they were greeted informally by about 25 business owners who showered the demonstrators with tea and snacks.

District 2 representative and City Council President spoke from the back of a pick-up truck where she was briefly joined by Fife.

The caravan then continued, passing Laney College and then up International boulevard to China Hill by San Antonio Park, traveling through a section of Oakland’s Little Saigon.

Although this is the only event of its kind planned at this time, ICAC President Rev. Ken Chambers said he hoped that a more formal meeting between the Asian and Black communities can be arranged in the future.

“I am very appreciative of the community efforts and leadership of Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato-Bas, Councilmember Carroll Fife and the Black Housing Union promoting unity, solidarity and peace in the streets of Oakland,” said Chambers who is pastor of West Side Missionary Baptist Church.

“I am saddened by the tragic events that happened in Oakland Chinatown, yet very happy for the leadership of Councilmember Carroll Fife in organizing last Saturday’s caravan of solitary throughout the Oakland communities,” said Rev. Thomas Harris, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and a founding member of ICAC.

Michelle Chambers, director of the FAITHS Program of the San Francisco Foundation, said she would send an announcement of the demonstration of support for Oakland Asian residents to other faith-based institutions in the five Bay Area counties that are members of the FAITHS program to encourage expanded support for the Asian population in the Bay Area.

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