Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I am a member of Emanuel A.M.E. Church of Charleston, South Carolina.

Me, a fair-skinned northerner and long-time minister of non-creedal, nondenominational churches, I am also a member of the predominantly black southern church, with all its liturgy and ceremony, unfamiliar to people of my simple tradition.

Having sprouted my spiritual roots in a subdued little church nestled in the cold Cascade Mountains, with hymns sung slowly and reverently to the sound of windblown drizzle, I am yet part of that vibrant congregation that meets in Southern swelter to stirring songs of passionate praise, Magnolias and Palmettos swaying in the breeze.

A church that claims God as Father, Christ as Redeemer, the Holy Spirit as Comforter, humankind as our family, a church that cares about the social and spiritual and physical needs of all people, that is my church.

More than that, a church that welcomes the quiet stranger, putting a Bible in his hands, giving him a seat in the sacred circle of study, that is my church. 

A church that loves the outsider despite the twisted confusion of his past, the vileness in his heart, the soiled spirit he brings, a church that sees only a soul in need of a Savior, a church "so nice" it makes even a killer think twicethat is my church. 

A church that forgives through tears, stands strong in sorrow, that honors the wounds of the past by moving forward in hope, a church that is not crushed by grief but pushes through pain, a church that declares justice and love as both legitimate responses to evil and suffering, that is my church.

I am a member of Emanuel A.M.E. Church of Charleston, South Carolina...

...if they would have me.