Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin called out the demonic forces active in his city after a local pastor condemned a megachurch's decision to plant a campus in his neighborhood.
New Era Baptist Church Pastor Michael Jordan posted a sign that read, "Black Folks Need to Stay Out of White Churches," after the Church of the Highlands, a Birmingham-based megachurch with campuses all over the state of Alabama, announced they wanted to plant a campus in a high-crime area of the city.
"It's a slavemaster church," Jordan tells AL.com. "I call it plantation religion, slavemaster religion. The white rich folks start a church and put a black pastor in charge of it."
Church of the Highlands Pastor Chris Hodges announced the plan at the end of April.
Unlike the church's other branches, the campus location, which has yet to be officially announced, will not livestream the main campus' worship or sermon.
Instead, it will be led by pastor Mayo Sowell, who played for Auburn and was signed by the Buffalo Bills before he was cut.
"We're going to reach the drug dealers and we'll get the crime to stop," Hodges says. "Come on everybody, we're going to be the local church. I can't wait to report back to the mayor, and he says great job, hey let's go over here now. That's what the church should do."
But Jordan doesn't buy a word of it.
"Because of white flight and societal change where whites left the city, they did not want to be our neighbors, did not want their kids to go to school with our children," Jordan says. "They left the churches too. They sold the churches to us. White folks don't want to be our neighbors. If you don't want to be our neighbor, why do you feel comfortable putting a white church in the inner city? Their response is we will have a black pastor. He'll be a token. They'll still control the sermons, they'll still control the choir, the white administrative leadership will still run the church."
Mayor Woodfin told Hodges that he would support the pastor in whatever way the pastor wanted to serve the tough neighborhoods.
"He said, 'Chris, there are four of them that are keeping me up at night,'" Hodges tells AL.com. "'There are four of them that people should not live the way they are living, and the fear they're living in, the crime they are living in, the poverty they are living in. We have to do something about these four communities. All of our communities need stuff, but my priority are these four.' And I said, 'Mayor, I want to know which ones they are. If there's anything we can do to help, I'm committing it to you right now.'"
Many social media users flocked to the New Era Baptist Church page to post prayers, Scriptures and comments.
One person writes:
My greatest prayer for Pastor Jordan is that he will step into the freedom that is his as a child of God. Freedom from torment, fear, hatred, freedom to love. Ephesians 4:30-32 New International Version (NIV)
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
There is nothing I could say that would be more appropriate to this terrible situation than what Paul said in Ephesians 4:
"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."
There is only one church and it should not be divided.
It seems Pastor Jordan has succumbed to racial hatred (not racism; learn the difference if you're unclear about there being a difference) and started preaching it, yes. On the other hand, I didn't notice anything he said in his rant that was false. Please share if I'm mistaken. So, the reactions I'm reading is more a response to an uncomfortable truth rather than an honest condemnation of hatred under the guise of faith. MY PRAYER is that the good white Christians out there step up and prove this man wrong rather than criticizing the individual for having these views. Stop condoning racism, sin and hypocrisy from our elected officials that you have no problems openly supporting (note nearly every state Republican ad on TV now). Be mindful of the climate created by racial intolerance and hypocrisy that created the monster.
What do you think? Sound off below!
Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.
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