Looking back on 2016, the African American community took a number of hard blows highlighted by continuing economic disparities, criminal justice inequities and educational imbalances.
Reviewing the past year may lead some to despair, but not Los Angeles faith leaders. The Sentinel spoke with three prominent clergy who all expressed hopefulness and better times for blacks in the New Year.
Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, spiritual leader of the worldwide Church of God in Christ, Inc., offered the encouragement his shares with the 6 million+ members of his denomination, “I see you in the future, and you look much better than you do right now.”
Blake said the challenges Blacks overcame in 2016 can serve as motivation to succeed in the coming year. “Our community leaders and churches will continue the work to increase access to needed resources, opportunities and affordable housing for our residents. I believe in the resilience and determination of our community to work together to make 2017 a blessing for all,” he said.
Apostle Frederick K.C. Price, founder and overseer of the international Crenshaw Christian Center in Los Angeles, noted that African American believers can be confident about the future because of their faith.
“We will always have challenges as long as Satan, the god of this world, is running the world system. Those of us who know Jesus will have victory over these challenges. 1 John 5:4 says ‘whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world – even our faith.’
2 Corinthians 5:7 says ‘for we walk by faith, not be sight.’ We walk by the Word of God and not by what we see,” said Price.
Citing the history of blacks in America, Pastor Rosalynn K. Brookins of Walker Temple AME Church in Los Angeles insisted, “The challenges that we’ve faced within the African American community is not a new phenomenon. We, as a people, have been here before. The initiation of police brutality, the assignation of young men, high unemployment rates and mass incarceration of young men of color, extends further back than 2016.
“However, having faith that things will get better is the primary principal for the birth of Jesus the Christ. Jesus said He came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. We can continue to have faith because the intentions of God will not be dwarfed by the tricks of the enemy,” said Brookins.
In preparation for 2017, Blake urged African Americans return to the church, which he called “the epicenter for our African-American culture.”
“During the darkest times in our African-American history, from the plantations to the streets of Alabama, we have been most successful when we’ve worked together and relied of the word of God for strength and direction,” said Blake who is also pastor of West Angeles COGIC.
He added that his hope for 2017 is “a spiritual awakening in our nation, where we believe in, and rely on the goodness and mercy of Jesus Christ” and that people will use their gifts and talents to improve black communities.
Voicing a similar desire, Brookins said, “I am mindful that Jesus came to save a world filled with envy, vindictiveness, cruelty, hatred, and racism. Nevertheless, I am most hopeful that in the year of 2017, God’s miraculous power and uncommon favor will be released in the earth realm like never before.”
Price said he hopes believers in Christ will stand for righteousness, be on one accord and “realize that no good thing will God withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). So as we live for Him, we will have a blessed 2017!”