Episode 52: The Importance of the Black Church Past and Present
Hey everybody, welcome to Tellers of the Untold I’m Vanessa. And this week in happy Black History Month. And happy snow day if you had snow like we did here in Chicago. But today for this episode, I interviewed a pastor and asked him information regarding the importance of the black church. Also a little bit about what the Bible says regarding slavery. And here’s a snippet of this interview. Make sure you guys check us out on tellers untold.com. Also check out our new cross word cross black, black history word, search puzzle on Amazon, go to tellers untold calm, and then click on shop, and you’ll get some cool things that you’ll see there. But without further ado, here is your name, the name of the church to the denomination, and then like how long have you been a pastor and so forth? A little bit of background about yourself, okay.
I’m Donald sharp. Pastor, the faith tabernacle Baptist Church on Stoney Island in Chicago. I’m a native Chicago and born here, grew up here and not too far from where I grew up. And so I’m a South sider. I’m the organizing pastor of this church. And we were organized in 1964. So I’ve been pastoring for that many years
So what made you want to become a pastor? I grew
up in the church. And so the church was just about all modern life. I grew up at the St. Louis Missionary Baptist Church at 36 in Indiana. And so my grandfather was a deacon there. My my paternal grandfather was a deacon there. And so the church is all my life. And my, one of my role models was my pastor, the late Dr. Sa Grayson, who’s a dodnload was a young lady by the name of Ruth Jones, who we begin to know her as,
Oh, God on a blank on
that Washington. So the church was my life. So it was no, it was no surprise, when I announced that I felt like my calling to be a minister, and he laid on my calling to be a pastor.
So why is the black church so significant in the black community, going from history till even now
the black church, for us in the diaspora became synonymous to us, as the synagogue became to the Jews, the synagogue and the Jewish diaspora, since they could no longer go to the temple for worship. So you had the creation of the synagogue synagogue was more than just a place of worship. But it was the institution of learning and where the scriptures were taught, and they would gather and have discussion. So the black church, in many respects, became our repository of our emerging culture of who we were as black people in America, and it gave birth to many things. gospel music, gave birth to even the blues, and gave birth to our style of preaching. So it was also the black church was community. That was a community that was family, and it was a black church, and they all kind of run simultaneously.
You know, much about, like, during slavery time how the church was
the black church or Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, it’s ironic that slaves would be taken to the white churches and made to sit in the balcony. But on their own, they began to have what’s called brush Arbor meetings, or they would go off somewhere have their own type of worship, which was different from the the slave masters worship. And of course, for them, the Bible took on a different meaning, as they read it, as opposed to what they heard in the white churches. So Moses, instead of freeing Israelites, Moses became a emancipator. And so we hear songs go down, Moses, tell Pharaoh and let my people go, you know, so we were able to extrapolate from the scriptures that they heard in the white churches, but then apply To all situation and as, as, as blacks, and as slaves, our ancestors were able to do that and pass it on.
So hands have always been an important thing in the church alone. But how important is it from slavery time until now, tell me a little bit about the history of hands and, and
well, of course, realizing that it was against the law for slaves to read, so we had no hymnals, to read as the whites did. And so we were able to come up with songs on our own, and pass it on. And so you didn’t eat him knows. And the him those became more than just songs we sang, became some of our testimonies, you know, that out of our own ethos out of our own pathos, that that the him those took on a different meaning. And they ended with the spirituals in the end the gospel, particularly the spirituals And so, they took on a whole different meaning and so, being forbidden to read. So we develop our own music, we develop our own style, much of it was still remember now, not everything was loss, I feel like if not everything was lost, in the in the slave transfer, migration, that we will attain some means, particularly music, and we retain some of that and was able to Americanize it, shall we say, or change it to sit, suit our situation?
So Chicago is known for its gospel music. And you be here from Chicago and also as a pastor, can you tell me a little bit about the history of gospel music from your vantage point?
Well, of course,
ah, choirs very important in the life of the church. And the church I grew up in was just about four or five blocks from the pilgrim Baptist Church. And that’s where Reverend Dr. Thomas Dorsey, who’s the father of gospel music, and I remember meeting him on a couple occasions, but nevertheless, it was that and then my home church, St. Louis Baptist Church, my grandfather died. This was in the 40s, I think it was, that was the lady I remember her asking who had died? And she told her who it was. And she said, What do you think they’ll let me sing at the funeral? Because he lived across the street from me. They said, Oh, Haley. Yeah, then they do that does my hair Jackson, so she lived in the community, she was a part of the community. So my hair to Jackson again, became, symbolize and gospel music as we, as we knew it, then
what would you tell the next generation, your grandkids and other grandkids about gospel music and about?
This is who we are. And when I’m concerned about identity. And my concern is that if we dilute it, the gospel music to the extent that it no longer represents who we are, it takes away from our culture, it takes away from who we are, and we lose our identity. So I’m concerned about that.
Do you think you’ve gotten better or worse or the same as far as the black community in Chicago?
There’s no question about it. I’ve never experienced the the mayhem. The the carnage, if I want to call it that, but I’ve seen but again, is is intermatic of the breakdown of church, family, and community. And we’ve seen that and is horrible.
So who shapes the future of our community?
That is a very good question. Who shapes the future? it’s incumbent upon those of us who are in positions of leadership, to do the best we can to pass on or to remind our children, this is who you are. This is who you are. This is what you are in the church. We were taught to behave. We were taught certain cultural traditions. And when that no longer takes place, we were living in a vacuum and any kind of vacuum, you’re going to have problems and that’s and so it’s incumbent upon us. I feel like it’s incumbent upon us as as leaders to continue to tell them Door to our sermons continued for the church to be the symbol of hope, the church to become the symbol of who we are as black people in America
with the demographics of your church, currently,
it’s an older congregation, I would dare say, the majority of our congregation are older and women.
And what should the younger people know about? Or what should the younger people learn from people like your congregation, the older, you know, there are older people
in general, these are your heroes, and your heroes. These are the people who who who’ve gone through difficulties. These are the people who know what it’s like to have to go to strengthen separate water fountains. These are the people who grew up. And particularly in the south, who had to go through the back door sitting in separate parts of the train, I grew up sitting, going down to Mississippi. And I didn’t know that was a dining car on the train, because my mother fix me, box lunch, and I sat there and ate it. And I didn’t know that was a dining car. But we were forbidden to eat there. And so these are the heroes we must never forget. And I think we were failing to forget that of where we’ve come from. And Jews have taught never to forget the Holocaust. We must never forget where we come from.
So why is it so important for us as black people to know our history?
If you don’t know Israel, if you don’t know where you come from, you know where you’re going. That’s kind of cliche.
We learn our history if it’s not taught in school,
and Darien is a problem, because of the fact that the school system in America has excluded us. You know, I think he might get a little blip about 1619. slaves were brought to America. And that’s all Yeah, may pick it up again. Dr. Martin Luther King, you know, making mentioned George Washington Carver, you know, but what about Sojourner Truth? You know, what are you know, what about other And so, what we’ve done, what this educational system has done, has excluded white people from history and made us an append it, you know, an afterthought. And so therefore, we’re not seeing very much as being contributors to this society. And this culture is built on our on our fans backs.
And you have young people in your congregation,
we have a few. We have a few.
And what does your church do anything to within the community to help out with the black community in general.
In the past, we had a food pantry. And we we were very successful with that. But again, part of the problem was at the congregation bit gotten old as a congregation came older, it was very hard to get volunteers to, to manage it. So we had to dismantle that.
So why can’t other churches do to help out with this community?
I think there are other churches are doing some things. Some churches, I know they given up food. But the old adage is that the old proverb give a man a fish to eat for a day, teach him how to fish eat for the rest of his life. And what we’re doing, I’m afraid, we’ve given him a fish to eat for the day. But I’m not sure we teach them how to fish sigma for the rest of our lives. And that’s my concern that, you know, many churches are given out by Amazon, of food. But yet, By the same token, I’m afraid we’re not doing much more than that as applause instilling within our people a sense of who you are, and what it means to be black in America, and what are you going to do about it, to change it?
And then my last question is, pertaining to the Bible, to fucose plan and other members just believe that, you know, the Bible is, is the place that’s telling them that we as black people are slaves and that we should be put in that place. And they’re referring to the Bible. slave and slavery is mentioned in the bible depending on which you know, context you’re using, way over 100 times. Why is it being used it Why is that word slavery even in the Bible? And and tell me just a tad bit about in the Bible that history related to our people. Because there’s Miskin there even on the news, like we had one of the celebrities getting fired from a network because he said, black people are the original Hebrew.
People misinterpreted the Bible. First of all, wanted to pass the scripture in the Old Testament, Noah, and the curse of ham, I don’t have time to go into it in all its entirety, but supposedly, NOAA supposed to curse his son, one of his son’s name, ham, and that he would be servant to the other of the brothers. And so they used and it’s a Bloomberg curtain as being black turning black, but that’s kind of crazy. But anyway, they use that in the Old Testament of contacts, that we’re the descendant of ham.