In the battle for Black lives, churches must now answer the call

Let the church mirror those transformative congregations and souls who still stand as a remnant, a lifeline and ark.

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Community members of St. Sabina Church hold a demonstration in the Auburn Gresham community against the killing of black men.

| Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

This is the third in a series titled, “Until Black Lives Matter”

“If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” –Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Defund the police?” Defund the church.

The church that builds grand temples rather than community, families or housing for the poor. Churches that open and close on Sundays but on most days stand aloof with cold shuttered doors.

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The church that neither serves nor protects. Those “houses of worship” that seem to exist only to collect tithes and offerings that drain impoverished neighborhoods, leaving them barren and alone. Churches that neglect the call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and provide eternal hope, even in the midst of murder zones.

Defund perennial “building funds,” pew rallies and conferences of “faith.” Until Black lives matter and these violence-ridden streets flow with grace.

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Until the hope and light that the church in America purports to possess shines forth like the sun against polished chrome, and rivers of peace replace rivers of the blood of our slain sons and daughters. Defund those churches that sit silent amid this grand shameful slaughter.

And let frivolous goosebump sermons cease. Give us a relevant Word with teeth. Until Black lives matter…

Give us sermons that speak truth to power. Preachers who are called for this grave hour—unafraid, untainted and unattached to the status quo. Spirit-filled men and women through whom a divine vision flows. Pastors with a love that has not waxed cold. Fervent, uncompromising, faithful, bold.

Let the church once again be without a materialistic heart that yearns for Benz, Bentley or Lexus. But with a heart that burns for community health, wholeness, wellness.

Let there be fewer megachurches and more megaministries that flow unencumbered beyond inanimate brick walls to the highways, hedges and gutters. To the lost ones who dwell in the streets, to wayward young men, widows and single mothers.

And let the “church” be a reflection of Jesus Christ. Of His mercy, grace and passion for human life. “Let your light so shine before men…” Return to your first love once again.

Let the church mirror those transformative congregations and souls who still stand as a remnant, a lifeline and ark. The ecclesia — “the called out ones” — who stand apart from the gluttony that has infected the church at large, which suffers from complacency and amnesia of its divine charge.

For it is written: The church “has too often blessed a status quo that needed to be blasted, and reassured a social order that needed to be reformed.” The words of Dr. King… Let them now be remembered, reborn.

“So the church must acknowledge its guilt, its weak and vacillating witness, its all too frequent failure to obey the call to servanthood. Today the judgment of God is upon the church for its failure to be true to its mission.” … So Dr. King warned. Surrounded by this 21stcentury threefold pandemic of virus, racism and violence, today we mourn.

Searching for answers, some decree: “Defund the police!” Then who we gonna call in emergencies? End police brutality and racial profiling, and fire rogue police. But we need the police to help cure the murderous violence that grips our streets.

Police accountability with equal justice for Black lives is perhaps a more accurate aim. “Police reform” and the shifting of resources to social uplift and equality a forgeable path to community gain.

Defund the police?Why not defund billion-dollar corporations that use federal government bailouts to provide big execs with golden parachutes? Why not defund foreign wars and elected officials who cheat and loot?

Defund the building of more bombs to build human lives, even the least of these. And defund anything that keeps America from justice for all, freedom and equality.

Until Black lives matter …

Email John Fountain atAuthor@johnwfountain.com

Send letters toletters@suntimes.com

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