“The Church must take its faith and base it on initiatives of economic independence and not institutional dependency…”
By Rev. Dr. Al SampsonÂ
What pastors have a problem with—
I argue that there are four types of churches in our community. The first church is called the “entertainment church,” where we jump up and down with the Holy Ghost on Sunday and our people live with Casper the Ghost on Monday. If your God is as awesome as you say he is on Sunday, then there ought to be some transformation in the community on Monday morning, which bursts forth to a seven-day-a-week church, and not just a Sunday church. Â
The second church in our community is called the “containment church,” where all the intelligentsia is locked up in the church, just on Sunday, with no social and economic responsibility to the community on Monday. Â
And then the third church is what I call the “prosperity and pain church,” where people ride in and they ride out. They have worship, praise dances; they’re filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. And they move right on out, driving pass the people of poverty with no institution of economic responsibility for Resurrection Reality. Â
Then the fourth church is what I called the “Martin Luther King church.” When Martin was alive, he took the church out of the church, into the community. When Martin got assassinated, the church left the community, and went back to church. The struggle now is to take the church out of the church, into the community, which is called the “liberation church community.” Â
We (Fernwood United Methodist Church) operate off of the three-plus-one plan: education, economics and evangelism for everybody.
For example, we have a program that helps folk with lights and gas. It’s called the CEDA program. The money gets appropriated from Congress, goes to the state, the state created a Community Economic Development Agency, and our church participates in helping people with lights and gas. Â
The bulk of the people who have these utility challenges are seniors. What we found out was there were no African American organizations working on behalf of the needs of seniors. So last year, on May 25, we had a senior resource network conference. We brought out 10 agencies from the state that had an impact on senior benefits. And then we also had folk in the private economy – lawyers to help with the wills, (for example).
We’re the only Black Church in America that has a Department of Agriculture, where we receive soul-food vegetables from farmers down South. And 50, 60 miles from here, they have been growing vegetables for our church community for 30 years out of my 32 years at the church.
From Crucifixion Christianity to Resurrection Reality
Crucifixion Christianity puts a warrant on poor people, sentencing them (through) governmental policies and religious classism, manipulating the poor and not managing poverty. It is crucifixion by asphyxiation.
When you hang poor people on the cross with a sign of dependency – “the poor you shall have with you always” – then responsibility is (neglected). This sign of Crucifixion Christianity leaves a tomb in the economy, rolling a rock of social and economic grave forces — so poor people won’t breathe — in the holes of exploitation. This process breeds cemeteries in our economy, with grave clothes wrapping poor people away from creativity and responsibility. …
Crucifixion Christianity of poor people is an Old Testament Ezekiel 37 (perspective) — scattered bones in the cemetery of poverty, social dependency and societal liability. … This approach reduces the power of responsibility and creativity, and doesn’t produce the power of opportunity and possibility. This is called scattered bones, scattered economy, and calculated poverty. …
The Church must take its faith and base it on initiatives of economic independence and not institutional dependency. The word economics (comes from) a Greek word – ekos — which means the House of God. In Psalm 8 we receive permission to have production and responsibility for the resources on this planet. The government and faith-based organizations must accept wounded poor people from the holes of economic exploitation and social asphyxiation to a New Testament Resurrection Reality. …
If you’re familiar with the (resurrection) story, Peter comes to the tomb (of Jesus) and says I’m going home, because he has a poverty of spirit. Mary stands and talks to the gardener, which is the symbol of production. And she becomes one of the most sacred people in history, because she wants to know what happens when you rise up out of your condition and move to another level. So the first person she meets is a gardener, who is the symbol of production. And she raises a fundamental question: “Where have you borne Him? I want to know where He is. I want to take Him.” Which is responsibility, creativity, a proposition from what we would call Mother Earth – the woman being classified as Mother Earth – she wants to know, how do I find the power to create (and) be responsible with a gardener who is creating and being responsible.