A Church Of Community Organizers
I love this picture.
Pleasant Hope members showed up last Saturday to help Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in West Baltimore to replicate some of the successes that our church has experienced by learning how to grow our own food. I love that members of Pleasant Hope are so eager to put their faith in action in the community.
This past Sunday, we welcomed local college students to our church. Students from Morgan State, Towson University, Loyola and Johns Hopkins came to hear more about our work in the community and find a way to partner with us.
Once again, Pleasant Hope members were there and in the picture; serving, listening, helping and connecting with others.
I love that we do this together.
I was having a conversation with a Pleasant Hope member recently about my desire to develop a community organizing training at our church to help more people learn how to organize and mobilize churches to gain power for Black people. Sensing my dismay that I wasn't able to do the training right away because of a very busy schedule, the member said to me, "Pastor, you're like a walking manual on how to organize Black churches. You are the training!" This made me laugh, but they may have been on to something.
While many things are learned in classrooms, in books and from presentations; other things you have to learn by actually doing it. This reminds me of how Jesus organized people in his community. He walked alongside them. They learned from him as they walked with him. Sure - Jesus gave sermons and taught in more of a classroom kind of way too, but most of the transformation that his followers experienced happened while they were in the process of serving with him. They learned by doing. They grew by serving. They gained power by helping others get power.
I like this model of ministry. I know that Pleasant Hope needs more structure and systems with regard to training and learning. We'll be working the rest of this year and over the winter to put that in place along with probably hiring staff to manage that. However, those who want to get the most out of their Pleasant Hope membership today may want to seriously consider walking with me...literally.
I'm walking on campus engaging college students. I'm walking in our local neighborhood meeting seniors on their porches and also playing with children in parks. I'm walking to other churches to help them with their gardens.
Those that get the most out of their Pleasant Hope Baptist Church membership are those that get active, walk with me and others, and find ways to serve outside of Sunday morning. Those that have the greatest spiritual experiences are those that change their weekly routine, reorganize their priorities, embrace a new lifestyle centered around service and obedience to God.
If you do this - and those who already are active can attest - you'll find that service satisfies the spiritual appetite.
Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, III