One of the evening plenaries at CCDA 2012 was led by Bishop Charles Blake, who serves as the Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle of the Church of God in Christ, Inc., a 6 million-member Pentecostal-Holiness denomination. There were many attenders at the conference that were excited to hear him, and it’s obvious that his life and ministry have touched a lot of people.
Here were some of the memorable quotes that I was able to capture:
“It’s not about your resources; it’s about your God.”
“Our organs work and serve together for the good of the whole body. Each organ contributes to the whole. We cannot thrive if we think and work for ourselves alone. We are part of God’s body, and so I need you.”
“God will sometimes take something you have and bring it down to nothing so that he can get the glory.”
“God brings dead things to life and gives that power to us.”
“Make no small plans, for we serve an able and powerful God.”
“He waits until the multitudes have no food left. God never starts until it is too late. He waits until Lazarus is not only sick but dead.”
“God has been too good to us for us not to be productive.”
“Make sure your vision is big enough to require a miracle. This is no time for timid servants. The kingdom of evil has risen and its time for the almighty servants of God to rise up and say, “no matter how limited my resources are I will take the world for Jesus Christ.””
“Don’t bury the gift God has given you. You have a good lawyer (1 John 1 – advocate). You have power (Acts 1.8 – God’s power lives inside of you).”
I am a lifelong Chicagoan, a pastor at River City Community Church, and an author who writes a lot about resisting and confronting white supremacy from a faith lens.
Our church was founded in January of 2003 in the west Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, and is centered on the core values of worship, reconciliation, and neighborhood development. We long to see increased spiritual renewal as well as social and economic justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and entire city, demonstrating compassion and alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God. It is also through the gift of this faith community that I have learned to see the profound historical and spiritual impact of the stronghold of white supremacy, and where I have been challenged to broaden and deepen my understanding of discipleship in the hopes of becoming a serious enough Christ follower who is able to meaningfully participate with those who have risen up in defiance of this evil principality.
The lessons learned in this journey have been captured in a pair of books on race. The first, White Awake, explores the barriers that white people tend to face – white Christians specifically – when we attempt to awaken to and understand white supremacy through a faith lens. I spend a lot of time here addressing the internal defenses that are bound to go off when this journey is taken seriously, and I chart out a path for developing a resilient spirit that steadfastly moves towards truth, justice, and equity. The second, White Lies, further builds out the path for the white Christian who longs to actively participate in the resistance and confrontation of white supremacy. I spend a lot of time here exploring why it is so hard to tell the truth about race, as well as expose the lies that sustain it, within white, Christian, Bible-believing environments. I then propose nine practices that position us for engaging in this task.
On the personal front, my career started in the marketplace, as I was part of three dot.com startups in the 90’s. My vocational path shifted when I joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in 1998, and I spent five years working there. I started River City Community Church in January 2003 and have been happily serving here ever since. On the education front, my undergrad was in Business (Purdue University), my graduate degree in theology (Moody Bible Institute), and my doctoral degree in community development (Northern Seminary). On the family front, my wife is a Professor of Psychology, and we have two amazing children (Xander and Gabriella).
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