As the celebration of the birth of Christ nears, the Sentinel surveyed several local clergy for their replies to the question: What are one-to-two Christmas wishes that you would extend to the L.A.-area African American community and why? The following are the responses that we received.
Pastor Mary S. Minor, Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church: “During the season of Christmas, Christians recant the night when Jesus was born. There was no room in the inn. He was born homeless. Today, many persons (including children) know firsthand what it means to be homeless.
“My wish is that the county and city of Los Angeles find a permanent solution to its homeless crisis. Everyone is entitled to shelter. My wish is that all who are experiencing the nightmare of homelessness would soon wake up to a future that includes a roof over their heads. Merry Christmas!”
Pastor Edward “Eddie” Anderson, McCarty Memorial Christian Church: “My hope is that when you and your family unwrap Christmas presents under the tree this year and receive pleasant and unexpected surprises, just know that this is how God often works in our lives – blessing us with unexpected gifts and surprises.
“I hope you feel Jesus’ warmth this holiday season and remember to embrace the light as each of us becomes the light, Emmanuel, with those you hold dear, near or far.”
Superintendent Jeffrey M. Lewis, New Antioch Church of God in Christ: “Many this year have experienced severe challenges and even loss. We’ve witnessed a growing homeless crisis, school shootings are at an all-time high and we grieved as many were affected by a horrific fire season.
“However, my Christmas wish for you is that you remember God’s love and concern for His own. God’s gift to us, His Son, Jesus Christ, is greater than any setbacks we’ve faced and we’re thankful that in spite of it all, we still have joy. Merry Christmas everyone and have a blessed New Year.”
Pastor James K. McKnight, Congregational Church of Christian Fellowship: “My Christmas prayer: Emmanuel, send your Spirit in such a mighty way that we, the members of this blessed community, might have your vision, so we won’t overlook those who you love who are struggling and unhoused; your love, so that we can do good work with those with whom we have differences; and your faith, so that we can move mountains.”
Pastor Marcus Murchinson, Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church: “My wish for Los Angeles directly is that the African American community is rooted in the urban timeless prophecy – revolution. “The revolution will not be televised,” said Gil Scott- Heron.
“The revolution will not be brought to you by Siri, Alexa or Google, by Tik tok, Instagram, Snap Chat, or Facebook. The revolution will not show pictures of impeachment hearings, and table talks with limited changes. I wish for the kind of revolution that’s not Democratic or Republican, but consciousness.
“What is revolutionary is consciousness, who is revolutionary is the Christ, and why because love changes: homelessness, joblessness, hopelessness…”
Pastor D. Najuma Pollard, Word of Encouragement Community Church: “My hope/prayer for Los Angeles is that we find real solutions for the issues, for example – real affordable housing, access and affordability for mental health services, mass incarceration, joblessness, and expanded substance abuse services – that are presently fueling the growing homelessness problem in Los Angeles.
“Currently 35% of African-Americans (largely males) make up Los Angeles County’s homeless population; but we are less than 20% of the Los Angeles county population.”
Pastor Kelvin Sauls, United Methodist Church elder and community advocate: “In anticipation of commemorating the birth of the Christ-child, my prayers for my African-American kin are filled with nothing but “TLC!!”
“When Mary’s baby entered the world is something we can dispute, but the why, where, and how is indisputable. Hence, in a country enveloped by deception, fear and indifference, the message, location, and circumstances that God chose to become flesh and be among us, remains an invitation for deep reflection and deliberate action.
“Kin, my prayer for us is to seek and share truth, embrace and extend love, and pursue and practice compassion like never before! The houseless, migrant and marginalized Jesus has become visible amongst us, ya’ll.
“I’ve chosen to nurture a hopeful audacious stance that we will continue to open our hearts and hands, spirits and minds to receive these endurable “TLC” gifts for recovery and redistribution into the next decade.”
Pastor Byron L. Smith, Sr., Lifting The Veil Inc.: “Langston Hughes once stated “we must hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”
“It’s my wish, during this Christmas season, for the entire Los Angeles California area and especially to the African American community, that nothing will kill the dreams of those who are dreaming to one day overcome homelessness, poverty, educational marginalization, human trafficking, mental health crisis, the mass incarceration phenomenon, and parentless children in our foster care system.
“It’s my wish during this Christmas Holiday season that no more wings will be broken! So that our community and every community in Los Angeles can fly, and fly high for positive progressive sustainable change for all of humanity. Merry Christmas!”