The Black Church – Greg Griffin Formerly of Rocky Mount NC


When I was a child growing up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina I fondly remember the importance my parents placed on going to church every Sunday. My parents feeding the pastor and his family every Sunday enhanced this importance further. Rev. Luther Brown, pastor of St. John A.M.E Zion Church and his family were regular guests in the Griffin household on Sunday afternoons.

My father always emphasized that the black church has historically been a source of hope and strength in the African American community. He could recite the seven major historic black denominations at the blink of an eye. They are the African American Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church; the African American Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church; the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church; the National Baptist Convention, USA. Incorporated (NBC); the National Baptist Convention of America, Unincorporated (NBCA); the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC); and the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). This comprised “the black church.”

In addition to attending the traditional black church, blacks also attended predominately white denominations such as the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregational, United Methodist and Roman Catholic churches. Whatever denomination blacks attended the truth is the church has been and always will be the saving grace for black folk in America.

If it were not for the black ministers and the black church the Civil Rights Movement would have never been successful. The participation of black ministers and congregations gave the Civil Rights Movement a mass base not readily available in previous civil rights struggles. In fact, in the 1940’s, black lawyers, teachers, and other professionals were the ones that spearheaded attacks on segregation. The black church drew members from all walks of life and provided the necessary numbers needed for mass action.

The black church roots extend back to antebellum times. It was the black church that successfully confronted social, economic, and political problems facing the black community. The black church was and always will be the most important institution in the life of black people.

It is my belief that the black church can better deliver the black race to the place in society that it should rightfully be. We must face the undeniable truth that black churches continue to be the focal point of virtually every movement for change that affect the black community. Because of the enormous political, spiritual, and economic consequences we as a people face, we must elevate the black minister to the highest level of respect in our community. He should be well compensated. It is a disgrace that some of our ministers have to work other jobs to make ends meet. Considering the state of Black America our ministers need to devote their full attention to the ministry.

We must pay our tithes religiously so that the black church can function effectively. If we pool our resources together in support of our black churches we will see the Promised Land. In many ways our churches have been successful with bare bone budgets, but this can not last with the pressing problems facing our communities.

Looking at the criminal justice system, we see that almost two thirds of the six-and-a-half million who are on probation, parole, halfway houses, jail or prison are minorities. The one thing that is apparent is that the majority of these people are poor. Ten percent of the African-American community is involved in the criminal justice system. Forty percent of the six-and-a-half million are there for possession or sale of drugs.

If we fail to support our black ministers and the black church we will be doomed. If we give these great men and women our support we will see them and the church have a meteoric and unsettling, rise to global prominence. Pay your tithes and attend church on a regular basis. God will bless you in ways that you haven’t imagined.

Greg Griffin is a free lance writer. You can read his previous articles by visiting his web page at