Say It Aint So Rev….



Well, this is most definitely a story I am troubled to pass on to my readers.  I don’t think MSM has gotten hold of it, and clearly the Obama-Clinton surprise meeting here in Washington trumped this story.  And seeing as how the Fr. Pfleger removal (or suspension) story didn’t break big news nationally, I’d be shocked if this is more than a small footnote on AC360.  But seeing as how I’ve just been in my moods concerning all things racial, political and religious lately, I refuse, for once, to subject myself to the ravings of FoxNews.

Below is a story that was tipped off to me by one of my fellow Fiskites and a professor.  I really wanted to cry because those who know me ALREADY know how vocal I have been about this situation.  For the sake of privacy of the church matters and my own personal reservations, I vascillated about whether or not to even bring this particular story to light, but in the interest of many parties who simply don’t know, I feel the need to.

I am reserving my deep personal feelings concerning this due to the private nature of the situation to church members and to me as well.  Below is the Time/CNN story in full entitled “The Unretirement of Reverend Wright” written by Steven Gray, published online on June 4, 2008.

When Sen. Barack Obama severed ties with his Chicago church, most political observers saw the move as a way for the candidate to insulate himself from the controversies stirred by its retiring pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. But Trinity United Church of Christ does not have that kind of insulation. According to sources within Trinity, Wright, 66, who began the process of retirement two years ago, is resisting fully relinquishing his duties as senior pastor, hanging on to power in the church he helped build.

Wright was officially to have stepped down last Sunday, June 1. And from the pulpit at 7:30 a.m. that day, Wright’s hand-picked successor, the Rev. Otis Moss III, preached what should have been his first sermon as senior pastor of Trinity, one of the Chicago’s largest congregations and among the most influential religious institutions in America. Instead, on church bulletins on June 1, Moss was identified simply as “pastor” rather than “senior pastor,” even as Wright assumed the title “pastor emeritus.” Indeed, Trinity members familiar with the developments say that on May 27, Moss was summoned to the church’s massive brown sanctuary for a meeting that included Wright, several church board members and other senior leaders. According to those sources, Moss, 37, expected the meeting to finalize transition plans. Instead, Wright suggested the board merely declare Moss “senior pastor-elect” because the younger cleric needed “supervision” — effectively ensuring Wright remains Trinity’s preacher-in-chief. Wright’s essential argument hinges on a technicality: Moss is an ordained Baptist minister who has yet to be fully ordained in the United Church of Christ, the predominantly white protestant denomination of which the roughly 8,500-member Trinity is the largest congregation.

As news of the situation traveled through the congregation, many Trinity members were baffled. “Two years ago, you felt God gave you the vision to bring Rev. Moss here,” one Trinity member said this week, referring to Wright’s explanation for hiring Moss. “Now,” the same member added, “why are you second-guessing God’s vision, and saying Rev. Moss isn’t qualified, that somehow he needs to go through more hoops?”

According to Trinity members familiar with the situation, after the May 27 meeting, Moss was ordered to tell the first person he hired — his head of communications — that she could no longer serve in the paid pastoral staff position. At least one other Trinity staffer has also been relieved of her duties in recent days. One source familiar with the situation said of Wright and the dismissals, “He doesn’t have to run it by the board.”

Sunday June 1 lacked the fanfare that often marks the official start of a pastor’s tenure. In fact, Wright didn’t even show up, for reasons church officials have so far declined to explain. From the pulpit on Sunday, Moss didn’t address the unseen drama, and later that evening he left for a vacation. “He has inherited this mess,” one Moss supporter observes, “and his priority is to help a congregation heal and move forward. Hopefully Wright will let him do that.” “The church is splitting,” says one Trinity member. “It’s sad, because this is a case of the older leader not being prepared to pass the mantle to the new leadership, and all that the new leadership represents.”

Church officials have been evasive if not obstreperous in clarifying the precise timelines for the transition from Wright to Moss. Trinity’s spokeswoman, Donna Hammond-Miller, responded to questions on the matter by e-mailing a reporter the church’s already widely circulated response to the Obama family’s departure. Pressed further on Sunday morning in between church services, Hammond-Miller said: “Those questions won’t be answered at this time.” When asked to help clarify points for the sake of accuracy, Hammond-Miller responded, “That’s your problem, not mine.” When queried by TIME again on Wednesday on the same issues, Hammond-Miller said, “They’re not responding to those questions. That’s the pastor’s choice.”

Officials at the United Church of Christ’s national headquarters in Cleveland are aware of the leadership tension at Trinity. However, they say, individual U.C.C. churches are autonomous and the national body can do little to intervene. Barbara Powell, a U.C.C. headquarters spokeswoman, noted that “Trinity didn’t follow the normal U.C.C. guidelines for the [pastoral] search” (Wright handpicked Moss, apparently without a formal search committee), but said it was hard to imagine that Moss wouldn’t successfully complete the ordination process.

At several points in recent years, Wright has openly contemplated his retirement. But the rift between Wright and Moss was unexpected. In early 2006, Wright announced that Moss would be his successor. It was an interesting choice, considering Moss’s pedigree: His parents were civil rights movement activists married by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his father is a prominent Cleveland minister. Educated at Morehouse and Yale, Moss had since 1997 led an Augusta, Ga., congregation, boosting its membership from 125 to some 2,100. In a January 2007 interview with Trumpet, a Trinity-affiliated magazine, Wright recalled introducing Moss to the congregation. “I had prayed to God to send someone to God’s church. God answered my prayer in Otis,” Wright told the publication. “Don’t think,” he added in the interview, “I would turn over 36 years to someone I didn’t have complete confidence in.”

In accepting the Trinity job, Moss apparently bypassed an opportunity to assume leadership at his father’s church. Moss moved his wife and two children to Chicago, where he was to serve as an associate pastor at Trinity during the two-year transition. By most accounts, Moss quickly energized Trinity, particularly with his easy, unself-conscious references from the pulpit to both hip-hop culture and deep biblical scholarship. However, in an August 2007 Cleveland Plain Dealer article, Moss seemed to foreshadow his troubles in Trinity. The generation gap plaguing such institutions, Moss said, is “a gap of language, values. It’s a gap in the best tactics on how to transform the black community. It’s an intellectual gap in many ways. There has to be a dialogue between those generations [so] that you don’t cast aside one generation or the other, or one generation doesn’t demonize the other.”

The church became an issue in the presidential campaign after Wright’s videotaped comments on 9/11 and bitter aspects of the black experience in America were propagated widely over the Internet. In response, Obama delivered his widely praised March 18 speech on race, in which the candidate repeatedly referred to Wright as his “former pastor.” Then came Wright’s fiery April 28 speech and haughty question-and-answer session at the National Press Club, in Washington. The next day, Obama denounced his “former pastor” outright. Attempting to quell the anxiety at Trinity, Moss wrote a “Declaration of Interdependence,” which began: “We pray for our pastor. We pray for our member, who is a public servant…. We, the community of Trinity, are concerned, hurt, shocked, dismayed, frustrated, fearful and heartbroken.” Now, without Obama in the church, Moss must deal with the formidable figure of Jeremiah Wright alone.

I look forward to any comments concerning this and use the comment space as one to share your own opinions and thoughts.


Romans 8:26-28 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

9 thoughts on “Say It Aint So Rev….

  1. I think Moss should have stayed his happy hipps in Augusta where by most accounts he was doing a great work.

    But sense he’s at Trinity I pray it all works out.

    And Pastor Wright should go somewhere, sit down and write a book called “Why I’m Right about America” Reverend Wright Tells Why God Damns America,

    and then he should most of all leave Moss the hell alone!

  2. Maybe people were correct when they said Rev Wright was jealous of Obama. This Rev Wright business is going to be a hard one for Obama. I don’t know if this is ego or sinister forces at work here. I don’t want this election to be filled with a black man trying to tear down another black man. Bob “Bojangles” Johnson did enough of that already.
    This is troubling indeed…….

  3. Hello there! {waves}

    Let me preface my comments by stating that black people need to STOP THINKING that whatever is reported by the white media is a fact… STOP treating everything that appears in print has been reported accurately… the white media slandered Dr. Wright and purposefully misrepresented his sermons and everyone who knows anything about black liberation theology FULLY understands that the white media misrepresented THAT to white America as well…

    In reporting about the goings-on at Trinity, the white media showed an extreme IGNORANCE and DISRESPECT for black church culture, the commentary by black clerics about societal matters and the call-and-response of the congregations.

    Now…black folks are taking THIS story that has emerged AS IF the white media truly understands the politics of the black church???

    Did they understand black liberation theology? Was it accurately and fairly presented? No.

    Did they reflect an understanding of the black church culture? No.

    Did they reflect a respect for the seniors of Trinity by contacting them at nursing homes by using the information distributed to MEMBERS? No.

    Now church folks are discussing the reports (ONCE AGAIN!) issued by the white media that has SHOWN its agenda quite clearly….and these same folks are BELIEVING that somehow this story is fact-based?

    Just now naive will we be?

    When the elder pastor transitions to a new pastor, THOSE transition dates are not etched in stone…they are not final and permanent…and if the church begins receiving BOMB threats after the PROJECTED date was announced to the congregation then YES…the leadership needs to re-examine the course of action that was laid out PRIOR to the new developments.

    The white media is NOW attempting to portray Dr. Wright as being on some power-trip…more of the SAME OLE lynching tactic to discredit who this man really is and to malign his character.

    Are the young black preachers taking NOTES about how this hi-tech lynching has all gone down?

    If the board at Trinity is re-evaluating the transition of full pastor responsibility to a younger minister then THIS is what good leadership SHOULD BE doing…good leadership MUST be poised to act swiftly if major circumstances arise that were NOT present when earlier decisions were made. I think that security issues about the safety of the membership from hate groups that were fueled by inaccurate white media depictions and BOMB threats would fall under the category as “major circumstances”.

    Don’t get it twisted.

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

  4. Thank you Lisa for understanding the ‘Kujichagulia’ (self-determination) of this particular (TUCC) black church and Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. and Rev. Otis Moss III.

    There would be no Joshua Generation without Caleb.

    Thank you, UNN, for providing a forum for the conscious (and the miseducated unconscious) in providing context to the bamboozling effects of the usually calculating MSM in its attempt to define the black church and black folk.

    I seems that after reading the handwriting on the wall (think Daniel 5:25-28–MENE,MENE, TEKEL, UPHAR-SIN) the MSM, with corporate permission, went into full overdrive modality, determined to vilify the TUCC messengers rather than reflecting on the message of the yet-not-dead racism against generations of nonwhite people from Africa.

    It seems that at this particular time, when reconciliation could at least be discussed, many opportunities to do so will be lost because of ‘sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity’ (MLK).

    Rev. Al Sharpton says it rather well, ‘James Crow Jr., Esq. (and Jane Crow, Esq.) are rather effectively continuing to undermine the moral integrity of those who speak truth to power because of this country’s peculiar institutional culture of white privilege.

    Again, thanks for keeping it uppity!

  5. Yo, I came over after you commented on my blog and I peeped your outstanding screenname. I added you to my blogroll.

    Thanks for the info or Rev. Wright. I actually hope this story blows up so folks will have a better understand of this cat’s mindset.

  6. And I don’t take what the white media reports as fact every time. But, I also don’t ignore what they report just cause it conflicts with what I would like to see. I’m not an expert of the transference of power in black church’s so maybe this is perfectly normal. And maybe it’s not. We have two different reports on that and it remains to be seen which one is totally true.

  7. To Big Man:

    I received a joint letter signed by both Rev. Wright and Rev. Moss issued to the church congregants that in fact say this is true about the “Senior Pastor-elect” status of Rev. Moss, but that it is a result of Moss not being ordained by the denomination of Trinity which is the United Church of Christ (their website is on my blogroll).

    While this particular transferrence of power is still unusual, one would have to admit that the circumstances surrounding this transfer of power are highly irregular, and perhaps would warrant something unorthodox.

    Compared to the letter issued by the pastors and compared to the above article, it just seemed to me that this was yet another attempt by the MSM to malign that which is the Trinity Church.

    Let ’em be.

    That’s really not news worthy.

    This was not a church that subscribed to some name it and claim it, Money cometh unto me crap, nor was this a megachurch that had its pastor getting on TV begging for donations and telling folks to “sow a seed” into his ministry. In fact, this church had to go off the air because they weren’t making a profit–probably in part because Wright WASN’T on TV asking for money mercilessly like some of these other yahoos. Perhaps if this was a church that had a super huge following like T.D. Jakes or Bishop Eddie Long, or Charles Blake, I’d understand sipmly because they were already known to a larger audience.

    Just let the church be.

    They aint harmin’ no one.

  8. I read the info and maybe you’re right. I liked what Wright had to say until the Press Club debacle. Oh well, I hope we just move on, but I doubt it.

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