Convocation attendees nudged to move beyond "Glory Days"  Written by Rev. C. L. Stumb

Convocation attendees nudged to move beyond "Glory Days" Written by Rev. C. L. Stumb

RALEIGH, N.C. - "Does anybody remember the United Church of Christ in its former glory?" asked Rev. Kenneth L. Samuel (D.Min.), pastor and organizer of Victory for the World Church in Stone Mountain, GA.. "Mainline Protestant denominations like the United Church of Christ once provided the moral vocabulary for America, and once made up over half of the US population. He sites the work of Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, and his book, The End of White Christian America, who spells out the profound political and cultural consequences of a new reality -- that America is no longer a majority white Christian nation.

Rev. Samuel has full ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ. Victory for the World Church, organized in 1987, has duel standing as an Independent Baptist Church and an active congregation in the United Church of Christ. Rev. Kenneth Samuel found himself center stage as the opening preacher for Southern Conference's First African American Convocation held in Raleigh on Feb. 28 - March 2.

 400 years later. "This place sure ain't what it used to be," Samuel offers as the chatter on the street in Haggai's era about the re-built temple. But he reminds his listeners that neither was the original temple - with its silver and gold - a flawless place of worship. But "the perfect memory is really an edited memory," he adds, painting word pictures of listeners' childhood days.

And somewhere in the middle, he reminded persons of a prophetic word from Israel's history.   He referenced the divided Kingdom of Israel and Judah, and noted that when war broke out, instead of spending money on the temple or infrastructure, Israel's Divided Kingdom had to spend money on war and military defense. "It couldn't afford to give people bread and spend excessive amounts on war at the same time."

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Samuel's message was clear and concise.

·"Get over the glory days of your past."

·"Don't make your present a prisoner of your past."

·"Stop worrying about what you lost, and work for what you want."

·"Peace is more than silver and gold."

His sermon crafted a contrast between Solomon's Temple in its glory days and Haggai's record of the re-construction some 

Part 1 of the Pentecost story is receiving the gifts of God’s power. Part two of the Pentecost story is found later when the Disciples were charged to be witnesses in the world. God is concerned, not about our good feelings of Pentecost, but how we enter as witnesses in the world to help make the world into God’s vision for the world! 

Now that you have the power, what are you going to do with it?   Love & Light 

 My takeaway from all that we experienced over the weekend of the 2019 SOC-AA Convocation. Where have all the prophets gone? There is always a burden in listening to and speaking for God. The joy is knowing that we have fought the good fight, finished our course. The burden of speaking truth to power—is a burden. It’s not easy. It takes commitment, dedication, sacrifice, prayer, fasting, takes the power of the Spirit to keep us going when the hell hounds are nipping at our heels. We can’t be afraid of being a prophet, not just as individual but as church. We have to take back the word. Empower the people to change for God. To make a difference. To change the systems. A prophet speaks truth even at the risk of death, persecution. A prophet is one who is not afraid of the fight, and will stand, is not concerned about popularity. Recognize that there is a need, and be willing to fulfill the need.

  There was so much to learn and so much to experience during the Southern Conference first African American Convocation. The conference ministered to me in an unforeseen manner. The powerful music, prayers, fellowships, dancing, sermons, workshops and delicious dinner wrapped its arms around me and told me to hold on and seek to do those things that are most important for the advancement of God’s agenda. Make it make sense!

The word love was instituted throughout the conference. Showing love makes God real.  Love comes alive by what we do. We did not talk in circles at the conference. It was such that we clearly understood that if we as a people would live up to our what God expects, we must do it from a standpoint of love. 

We must love ourselves enough to reach out to those in need. We must remain and expand upon inclusiveness. We must forgive ourselves for keeping our praise down. Decolonize and be free enough to shout, “Thank You, God! Amen, Hallelujah!” unapologetically. We must be brave enough to walk in our churches and say, self-contained programs do have a place within the church walls but God’s programs must expand beyond the church walls. Help and embrace the poor, the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, educate children and adults in a meaningful way that makes sense. We must free ourselves to say the LGBTQ population, you are my family and my friend and together we have work to do to help all. Where are the millenniums? Find out where they are and go where they are. Stay abreast and react to protecting the vote. Look out and react to how legislation is affecting those in need. If the church does not have the funds then the church must investigate to find resources or partnerships to get God’s work done!

 One of the most memorable aspects was the skill of the organist. Ministering in music in the context of Pentecostal worship requires a familiarity with Pentecost. Our musicians were in sync.

I appreciated the worship and fellowship with my colleagues in ministry.

My one takeaway was “unity.” There was a divine connectedness and a singleness of purpose. 

The message was loud, clear, and pervasive throughout the convocation that this awesome Pentecost Power is not just about me. We must "as Pastor Forbes so clearly taught us, get the right concept of God. A God who cares about and loves us no matter who we are or where we find ourselves on this road of life. Then, our mandate is to get into rhythm with God's agenda for human-kind and take it to the streets. Ask ourselves, What must I do to further God's agenda to spread good news to the poor, set free those who are in captivity, help someone to see,  to free the oppressed and to proclaim now is the time for God's people!! Let's get to steppin!!

I also want to suggest you consider workshops running no later than 3 or 4pm in the future. With the packed agenda we always seem to have at these occasions, if workshops start immediately after lunch ending at by 3pm or 4pm, latest, folks will be able to have a break before dinner if they decides to without sacrificing workshops, which were in this case, the practical application for perfecting the Pentecost Power into Prophetic witness.

I was thoroughly blessed this weekend! All praise to God and to all of you who worked to hard.