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“I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.”
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., right, and Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, are shown at a news conference at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York’s Harlem, November 14, 1965. (AP Photo/David Pickoff)
Two Afro-American Baptist preachers who changed America
The Rock on which we stood When all else failed…
This post is in response to the statement below by Tamara Tornado, a snide racist white bitch who does NOT UNDERSTAND black church history yet presumes to criticize it. I don’t like know-it-all crackers in the first place, because like this stupid broad they usually know nothing about us! The fact is that the black church has a dual history: progressive and reactionary.
The progressive tradition is heroic and grows out of the beliefs of those black slaves who interpreted the stories in the Old Testament bible about the enslaved Hebrew people in the Land of Egypt to be a parable about their situation in the American House of Bondage, where the white leaders of America collectively were Pharoah, locally represented by the slave master class. In other words Afro-American Christians converted Christianity into a weapon of liberation in a way that black slaves under Islam were unable to do.
Another Ignorant racist commenting on Black culture
This silly pretentous Bitch is no friend of ours!
The fact is that the majority of southern whites never owned slaves and Tamara’s grandfather was probably not one of them. Since she is obviously classless white trash. Every half ass redneck likes to identify with the slaveholding class, when most of their ancestors were nothing more than pawns of the planter class who supported the interests of the rich over their own because they were told that just being white made them special even though they didn’t have a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out of: JUST LIKE ALL OF THE PO WHITE CRACKER ASSHOLES WHO VOTE REPUBLICAN TODAY!!!!
Before the Civil War slaves were the most valuable property in the US., that’s why in 1850 New Orleans was the richest port in the country. Black churchwomen were the backbone of the great Civil Rights movement that destroyed the racial caste system of the south…what has this dumb cracker bitch done to make this country a better place? My argument is not with the black church as such, but this particular church congregation at Mother Emanuel in Charleston. The fact that I am an atheist does not blind me to all of the GOOD WORKS the black church has done and is doing! It is far superior in its practice of Christianity to the WHITE CHURCH!!!
That’s why the great German theologian and preacher Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who came here to complete his PhD thesis and teach at the distinguished Union Theological Seminary, became mesmerized by the Afro-american church service..
“Williams follows Bonhoeffer as he defies Germany with Harlem’s black Jesus. The Christology Bonhoeffer learned in Harlem’s churches featured a black Christ who suffered with African Americans in their struggle against systemic injustice and racial violence—and then resisted. In the pews of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, under the leadership of Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., Bonhoeffer absorbed the Christianity of the Harlem Renaissance. This Christianity included a Jesus who stands with the oppressed rather than joins the oppressors and a theology that challenges the way God can be used to underwrite a union of race and religion.”
I have read Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker: A Theological Vision for Discipleship and Life Together and can recommend it as a solid, well written book with a strong focus on a ministry that helped lay the groundwork for Bonhoeffer’s seminaries.
This was fun…
I sometimes talk about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in my services, church meetings etc. He was an inspirational person!
But then I thought sometimes it’s a bit boring to just talk about someone’s biography. So instead, I created a quiz.
These are my questions (and I had fun making up some of the answers!!):
- Bonhoeffer’s father was
a) a Lutheran minister
b) a butcher and an atheist
c) a psychiatrist and a Christian
- Because he was too young to be ordained after he finished his studies in theology (he had 2 PhDs and was a University Lecturer before the age of 25!), Bonhoeffer spent some time studying in:
a) the USA
b) the UK
- While he was in the States, Bonhoeffer attended and was deeply inspired by
a) a Presbyterian Church in Texas
b) a Methodist Church in Florida
c) an African-American Baptist Church in Harlem
- Bonhoeffer was
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The Rev. Dr. Roger L. Shinn, an educator, administrator and author who championed the ecumenical movement and social activism in Protestant churches as their growth peaked in the 1950s and ’60s, died on May 13 at his home in Southbury, Conn. He was 96.
His family announced his death.
Perhaps Dr. Shinn’s signal moment came after the 1957 merger of two mainstream denominations, the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches, to form the United Church of Christ. He was the principal author of the statement of faith for the denomination, which is still used in words close to his original. (References to God as a male, for example, have been made gender-neutral.) Dr. Shinn’s personal journey included fighting in the Battle of the Bulge as an infantryman in World War II and winning a Silver Star for valor. He later counseled conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War.
At Union Theological Seminary in New York, Dr. Shinn studied with giants of 20th-century religious thought — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich — and was himself later the Reinhold Niebuhr professor of social ethics at Union.
He helped shape the flurry of theological debate that followed World War II, arguing for a sharper sense of ethical and social responsibility on the part of moderate Protestant churches (Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Episcopalians and kindred denominations) whose membership peaked in the early 1960s at 31 million.
The solution was provided by America’s most illustrious theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr. Nine years earlier, Bonhoeffer had spent a year in the United States as a free-floating exchange student at Union Theological Seminary, arriving not long after Niebuhr had moved there from Detroit. He had made such a positive impression on Union’s faculty that Niebuhr jumped at the opportunity to bring him back. If we fail to offer him a job, he told Union’s president, Henry Sloane Coffin, Bonhoeffer will wind up in a concentration camp. This was not the stuff of run-of-the-mill letters of recommendation. Union extended the offer. Grateful to have a way out of his dilemma, Bonhoeffer booked passage, and in June 1939 found himself safe in America.
Safe, but unhappy. Bonhoeffer’s second visit to the United States lasted only twenty-six days.
In his beautifully constructed biography, Metaxas calls Bonhoeffer’s return to Germany in 1939 “the great decision.” Before he arrived in New York, Bonhoeffer was already his country’s most prominent theologian; in the German language, only Switzerland’s Karl Barth outranked him. After he went back to Berlin, Bonhoeffer added the roles referred to by Metaxas’s subtitle: martyr, prophet, spy. In 1945, the Nazis arrested Bonhoeffer, sent him to a series of prisons and camps including Buchenwald, and—two weeks before the Allied troops arrived at the Flossenbürg concentration camp—killed him. He was not yet forty. (Metaxas)
Bonhoeffer in five years rallied the churches of Germany to oppose the Hitler madness and has blessed every generation since with his example and writings.
He was certainly in the tradition of the Apostle Paul. The first Missionary journey had gone to its farthest point and they had to decide what they would do. Would they take the safe and easy route home or would they go back to encourage the churches the way they had come? The short way home would have been through the Taurus Mountains to Seleucia and on to Antioch. But they decided to go back where they had experienced hardships and threats of death. Let’s look at this undaunted courage.