Archive for the ‘Churches’ Category

>The bad news

October 22, 2010

>Two more young gay people have taken their lives this week. There is so much hatred directed toward these kids that they cannot see the love and support that the LGBT community and our allies have been sending their way over the last few weeks (actually all long, it’s just been more publicized over the last few weeks).

Corey Jackson was one of the boys. Corey was 19 years old, and a student at Oakland University. He hanged himself on Tuesday.

“Corey lived to please people; he lived to make everyone around him happy,” his friend Justine Roy said. “He gave off this positive aura, this positive vibe that you couldn’t help but be happy and smile.”

The president of Corey’s fraternity, TKE, Nick McCormick, said “I think the bullying may have something to do with it; maybe it was some negative support he may have gotten. If I had to give it a guess, the perception of his lifestyle might have had an effect on him.”

Other published reports say bullying did not play a role, but I can see where officials would try to sweep that under the rug. The family says bullying is to blame.

The other young man was Terrel Williams, a 17 year old student from Beverly Hills. He left a suicide note.

“I’m sorry to my immediate loved ones, but I feel suicide is the only way out. I felt coming out, and being happy with Daric, was the best thing I could’ve ever done. But I didn’t think it would lead to my death at an early age.

“Today, was the record worst day of my life, some kids at school stole some of my stuff that I got from people I really cared about, and that really pushed me over the top, next to being shoved into a wall, and my ribs being broken.”

His mother released this statement after an errant picture and some errant information was released.

So I am not posting a picture of Terrel.

Two thirds of Americans believe churches contribute to gay suicides. Obviously.

President Obama has come on board to tell young people “It Gets Better.

>Western Tribune column 11-18-09 Churches closing

November 20, 2009

>This column appeared in the Western Tribune on November 18, 2009.

Churches have themselves to blame

The closing of First United Methodist Church should come as no surprise since we live in a city whose traditional major denomination churches have been abandoning their historical buildings for years.

First Baptist Church and First Presbyterian Church downtown and South Highland Baptist Church on Southside are examples of churches that have moved or announced plans to move. It was inevitable that the Methodist Church would do the same.

These churches closed their doors because of dwindling attendance. The large buildings are expensive to maintain, and without the financial support from a giving congregation, keeping the doors open becomes impossible.

Older people recall the days when the churches were filled with worshipers each Sunday with children squirming in the pews and fried chicken and pecan pies served afterward. Their children grew up and fell in love and got married in the church and all was good.

However, the children who had only recently filled the Sunday school rooms moved away, leaving only their aging parents to continue supporting the church.

One of the leaders of South Highland Baptist Church told me that the community had ceased to support the church and the people in the community no longer did anything for the church.

My belief is that a church’s mission might be to serve the community, not the other way around, and that somehow the people of South Highland Baptist, as well as the other churches, had missed the boat.

All of this could have been avoided, had the churches taken the opportunity during the 1960’s to erase the segregation in the pews that was, and still is, so common. Of course, many in the churches felt that desegregation was being forced upon them in their schools and neighborhoods, so they held on to the only bit of segregation that was out of the reach of the government, making no effort to bring worshippers of different races together.

Had the churches in the 1960’s and 1970’s followed the lead of the government, and the teachings of Jesus, their local leaders would have reached out to the communities around them and made a concerted and purposeful effort to integrate their pews.

Instead, they moved to areas where their neighbors are more like them and the children are less needy.

As my momma used to say, “You made your bed, now lie in it.”

>Crazy in (Bessemer) Alabama

September 24, 2009

>My letter was posted on Equality Across America!

OK, Bessemer is just turning into the strangest place in Alabama. Here’s just a sampling of the craziness. All of these stories come from the Western Tribune. Mostly.

1. Heard during a city council meeting last week, from a preacher addressing the council: “I don’t know why they are upset. Prostitutes are in the neighborhood late at night and they go to houses to give oral sex.”

“They” are residents on the street where his “church” is. “Church” is in quotes because…

2. A church is not a church if it doesn’t have a steeple, according to mayor Ed May. Of course, the number of storefront “churches” without steeples in Bessemer is only outnumbered by bail bondsmen and payday loan stores. And the largest churches on the historic southside, the Methodist Church and Visionary Ministry, formerly South Highland Baptist, don’t have steeples, so I guess the gig is up.

3. Three years after the last election the city council is finally about to grow some (no disrespect to Louise Alexander, Dorothy Davidson or Sarah Belcher). After council members were prevented from collecting their mail…well, actually, after they discovered their mailboxes were gone and “no one knew where they were”…they got riled. Council president Earl Cochran said he would ask the council to censure the mayor. But it’s not just the mail issue. It has to do with changing locks and not getting the state forensic audit of city finances the council requested and…

4. The animal control issue will not go away. Hmmm. Let me just leave it at this. On Wednesday September 30 at 6:00 PM there will be a special meeting of the city council. Be there, if for no other reason, to be a witness.

Maybe, just maybe, a bit of the truth will be heard that night. Then there is this…

5. Red Scare!!!! That we have uneducated lemmings in Bessemer really surprised me. We had a discussion last night, and it was agreed that the enemy is not communism. And this is not 1950. I might reveal the true enemy in my column next week. Here’s a hint: if you don’t know what it is, you might be part of it!

Five Points South…West, and Churches and Taxes

February 27, 2008

I’m confused. I tried to understand something Larry Langford said.

In talking about his proposed Five Points West project he said “It will take on the same flavor as Five Points South.”

In the Birmingham News article that comes just after describing the improvements as having an Olympic grade swimming facility, an indoor track and an equestrain training center.

I drive through Five Points South almost every day and the closest thing to a swimming facility I see is the fountain. No sports facilities (billiards does not count).
An aside…
The Storyteller and picture from Bham Online.


Anyway, the mayor is right on one thing. An indoor track facility is needed if in fact an indoor track state meet was not even offered by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (as the article says) because they did not have a track at which they could host the event. But I remember going to indoor track events at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery years ago (college level) and the coliseum is still there and lists hosting sporting events as one of its offerings. Maybe what Steve Savarese, executive director of the High School Association, meant was he had not been diligent in securing a place for the event.

Ok I read about this on another blog, and would reference it if I could find it again…but I also saw it on CBS 42.

“Hello, thanks for calling, I am currently on a prison ministry assignment from God in Atlanta, Georgia for the next few months. This prison ministry assignment has been totally underwritten by the United States government in the form of a grant.”

Those are the words of Rev. Gregory Clarke on his outgoing voice mail message.

So, intentional humor or not, we are to believe that this “assignment” was from God, that it was God’s idea for him to break the law just so he could end up in federal prison. Nice. If that is not molding God to fit your own circumstances I don’t know what is.

My personal opinion when I see “tax” anything and “church” in the same sentence is that churches should not have any tax exempt status. Period. Now I know this has nothing to do with Clarke’s case, but still.

A snipet in the Birmingham News (from wire reports) says “The IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ over a speech Sen. Barack Obama gave at its national meeting last year…Obama belongs to the 1.2 million member protestant group. In a letter the denomination received Monday, the IRS said “resonable belief exists” that the circumstances surrouding the speech violated restrictions on political activity for tax-exempt organizations.”

Haven’t numerous candiates from both parties made speeches in churches within the last few months that violate those restrictions. Especially around the Martin Luther King holiday. I mean, the candidates would not have made those speeches if they had not been runnng for president would they? And they did make the speeches to try to persuade voters didn’t they?

>Five Points South…West, and Churches and Taxes

February 27, 2008

>I’m confused. I tried to understand something Larry Langford said.

In talking about his proposed Five Points West project he said “It will take on the same flavor as Five Points South.”

In the Birmingham News article that comes just after describing the improvements as having an Olympic grade swimming facility, an indoor track and an equestrain training center.

I drive through Five Points South almost every day and the closest thing to a swimming facility I see is the fountain. No sports facilities (billiards does not count).
An aside…
The Storyteller and picture from Bham Online.


Anyway, the mayor is right on one thing. An indoor track facility is needed if in fact an indoor track state meet was not even offered by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (as the article says) because they did not have a track at which they could host the event. But I remember going to indoor track events at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery years ago (college level) and the coliseum is still there and lists hosting sporting events as one of its offerings. Maybe what Steve Savarese, executive director of the High School Association, meant was he had not been diligent in securing a place for the event.

Ok I read about this on another blog, and would reference it if I could find it again…but I also saw it on CBS 42.

“Hello, thanks for calling, I am currently on a prison ministry assignment from God in Atlanta, Georgia for the next few months. This prison ministry assignment has been totally underwritten by the United States government in the form of a grant.”

Those are the words of Rev. Gregory Clarke on his outgoing voice mail message.

So, intentional humor or not, we are to believe that this “assignment” was from God, that it was God’s idea for him to break the law just so he could end up in federal prison. Nice. If that is not molding God to fit your own circumstances I don’t know what is.

My personal opinion when I see “tax” anything and “church” in the same sentence is that churches should not have any tax exempt status. Period. Now I know this has nothing to do with Clarke’s case, but still.

A snipet in the Birmingham News (from wire reports) says “The IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ over a speech Sen. Barack Obama gave at its national meeting last year…Obama belongs to the 1.2 million member protestant group. In a letter the denomination received Monday, the IRS said “resonable belief exists” that the circumstances surrouding the speech violated restrictions on political activity for tax-exempt organizations.”

Haven’t numerous candiates from both parties made speeches in churches within the last few months that violate those restrictions. Especially around the Martin Luther King holiday. I mean, the candidates would not have made those speeches if they had not been runnng for president would they? And they did make the speeches to try to persuade voters didn’t they?