(Left to right) Dr. Maulana Karenga, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr. and Tony Wafford.
By Tony Wafford
Many people think that Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr., Pastor Emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, faded quietly into the abyss after the fall out during President Barack Obama’s campaign for the White House but he did not.
Rev. Wright has continued to work on his mission, which he set upon even before he led Trinity to become the largest United Church of Christ congregation within the denomination. He has been lecturing, preaching, and speaking just as prophetically and boldly, sometimes in the pulpit, and sometimes by the pen, as with his latest and fifth book, “A Sankofa Moment: The History of Trinity United Church of Christ.”
Rev. Wright concluded a rousing visit to Los Angeles recently with an in-depth lecture and book signing at the African American Cultural Center (Us) on May 20. The same week, he delivered his “Theology in the Hood–Pt.2” sermon during a three-day revival at Bethel A.M.E. Church.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor, Africana Studies, California State University Long Beach and Chair of the Us Organization, and Tony Wafford, National Director of Health and Wellness for the National Action Network, cosponsored his lecture and book signing on behalf of Us and NAN’s “I Choose Life” initiative, which promotes HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in the Black community.
During the standing-room-only event, Rev. Wright highlighted portions of his book, which gives the church’s 48-year history and his journey to become one of the most profound voices of spirituality today.
Through Trinity’s ‘outside of the box’ ministries, focusing on HIV/AIDS, Mental Health, Prison, and Domestic Violence, to name a few, it bacame more than a part of the community it sought to serve.
Rev. Wright’s visit represented strength on many levels, according to Wafford, especially his tireless efforts to sound the alarm about HIV/AIDS and why the growing statistics should move the Black community–churches, organizations, fraternities, men, women, and youth alike–to action.
Black, though just 13 percent of America’s population, make up almost 50 percent of AIDS cases. Many people do not like to hear the numbers, Wafford said, but the fact is, people should be sounding the alarm that AIDS is the number one killer of Black women ages 25-34 and the second leading cause of death for Black men ages 35-44. The situation is so serious that there is now a National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (December 7, 2010), and Blacks collectively cannot just look over that and Rev. Wright and Trinity did not, Wafford added. ” Under Rev. Wright’s pastorate, Trinity did not simply preach about the perils of HIV/AIDS on Sunday and do nothing about it the rest of the week, but it wrote a remedy of education, service, and prevention into the heart of the church, and that’s just a fraction of what makes Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his legacy at Trinity, his continuing work, and his voice in the world today, so very important,” Wafford said.
Trinity’s HIV/AIDS Ministry holds a training program that teaches volunteers how to sensitively and effectively minister to persons with the disease, assist their families, and serve everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, without judgemental attitudes. This is important, Wafford said, because HIV/AIDS makes no discrimination about who will be infected.