An Open Letter to Bishop Charles E. Blake and the Church of God in Christ

holy-convocation2

Dear Bishop Charles E. Blake and the General Board of the Church of God in Christ,

The 107th Holy Convocation of the Church of God in Christ will be held from November 3-11, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri and as a concerned progressive Christian of the millennial generation, I implore you that during this week of meetings, worship services and workshops that you lead this aggregation of people outside of the Edward Jones Dome toward the seats of governmental power in the city of Ferguson, the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri and demand justice on behalf of the family of Michael Brown.

Growing up in the institutional Black Church, I understand that as an institution that it was instrumental in the liberation of Africans enslaved on these shores both in the visible and invisible church as well as the liberation of the descendants of these same African slaves who never experienced the emancipation of their own bodies from the bondage of white racism and chattel slavery.  I also understand that the Black Church, as an institution, has held the nexus of pneumatological power from the inception of this country as well as possession of a prophetic voice that produced both a Martin Luther King and a Bishop Charles Mason, a Malcolm X and a Bishop Gilbert Patterson, a Jarena Lee and a Jacqueline McCollough, a Prathia Hall and a Gertrude Stacks, a Thomas Dorsey and a Dr. Mattie Moss Clark.

To plan a national convention that provides an economic boost to the city of St. Louis as much as $35 million in years past, but potentially miss the power of your presence to be in the city of St. Louis at such a time as this is the equivalent of Peter missing the Holy Spirit multiple times leading toward the conversion of Cornelius; to potentially ignore the plight of your own brothers and sisters a mere 12 miles away in Ferguson is tantamount to standing at the foot of cross and watching Jesus suffer not just a spiritual crucifixion, but a political lynching and say nothing–and do nothing!  We sit in churches week after week and hear about our own sisters and brothers succumbing to oppressive systems of politics and education, race and religion and we do nothing–we say nothing.  Bishop Blake, et. al., now is your time and your opportunity to do something about it.

The time is now to utilize the power of the Holy Ghost and the possession of the prophetic voice to turn the world upside down.

In the early church, in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, the Lukan writer recalls that as Paul and Silas were journeying through the country side, they entered Thessalonica and Paul began arguing the scriptures in the synagogue proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah.  The crowds grew angry and a mob formed.  This mob knew that they were residing at Jason’s house and began to hunt them down.  Acts 17:6 reads that

“When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some believers before the city authorities, shouting, “These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also.'”

My challenge to Bishop Blake and to the General Board of the Church of God in Christ is that if your presence in St. Louis does not “turn the world upside down” then indeed you are not embodying the spirit of power, but one of fear.  What would happen if 35,000 black, Holy Ghost-filled members walked out of the Edward Jones Dome and marched on the streets of Ferguson demanding (1) that the policing tactics of Ferguson Police Department be immediately reviewed and the police chief be immediately removed from office?  What would happen if 35,000 tongue-talking members walked to the city hall of St. Louis and (2) demand that the city of St. Louis pass an ordinance that all St. Louis police officers must wear cameras to record their actions and the actions of citizens?  What would happen if 35,000 foot-stomping, hand-clapping, fire-baptized members marched to the capital Jefferson City, Missouri and demanded (3) that the Missouri state legislature and Gov. Jay Nixon sign into law that the burden of proof is lowered severely for a grand jury indictment of a police officer who shoots an unarmed citizen?

If black, Holy Ghost-filled, tongue-talking, foot-stomping, hand-clapping, fire-baptized Christians of the Church of God in Christ aren’t turning the world upside down, then I question just how compliant and complicit you are in the systems of this world that maintain and contain the oppression of the people that look just like you in the mirror.

What’s the point of having all that power, but no voice to use it?

The Church of God in Christ has historically been willing workers in the commitment to building a better world for all of humanity, but especially for blacks in America.  While local pastors and churches of the Church of God in Christ have been very active in protests and in stemming the tide of violence and providing significant community support in the past as well as the present, the national reverberations of 35,000 or more people walking out of the indoor comfortability of the convention center, demanding a better world would indeed shake the foundations of this country.  Creation groans and waits for the time in which the sons and daughters of God are manifested–that time is right now.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [emphasis added] [1]

The change that we hope and pray for every Sunday begins in us.  If we believe Jesus’ commission that we shall do “even greater works,” then we might as well.

Bishop Blake, General Board, members-at-large of the Church of God in Christ, since you will be in St. Louis, you might as well be the ones that turn the world upside down–the Lord is counting on you.

In the righteous indignation of the One Who Was, Who is and Who Is Yet to Come,
Joshua L. Lazard, the Uppity Negro

[1] Romans 8:18

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104 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Bishop Charles E. Blake and the Church of God in Christ

  1. If you have not already done so, please send a formal letter to Bishop Charles E. Blake and the Church of God in Christ. We can also hope that if this has not been addressed by the good Bishop and the Church of God in Christ, it will be.

    Thank you Uppity for your willingness to do the right thing for the glory of God.

    We are because God is.

    1. My 🙏 for the coming great and Spiritual day, that God is already in action with His anointed of the Holy Spirit to consume and ignite St Louis with thunder bolt power against anything not belongs to God, all demonic strong hold satan power will be destroyed. ” IF” we let the Holy Spirit control. Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, it indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Amen.

    2. Mr. Lazard,

      Perhaps you did this first, but a direct appeal would be in order as a first step. This is because if, at this late date, there were complications in pulling it together, then all members will have been unnecessarily shamed.

      No person, even Bishop Charles Blake, can make an executive decision to do this, and we are not certain that some other action has not been planned .

      An open letter should be reserved as a last resort.

      1. And there we have it…the so-called dignity that must be left “shh’d” and quieted in order to keep peace. There was not one place in this letter that proved disrespect or “out of order” behavior. It is more of an open call to all that will visit the city during this time. The problem with many churches is that we do not like to deal with things openly. While I am not a member of the COGIC family, I adore this letter and am making personal plans to get to Ferguson and participate in what should be a unified front and appeal for justice of those of African decent. Let’s put aside the antiquated rhetoric of past times and get to the doing, get to the work that Jesus Christ has set before us.

        In no way is this a blast, just a debate on what the most important issue is. I would hope that Uppity has already taken this to the main headquarters and that this letter reaches the computer screens and minds of those planning to attend. Remember, what worked with the Montgomery boycotts…getting into the establishment’s pocket. Dollar dollar bills y’all!

        Peace and blessings.

    1. Dear Hoping,

      WOW….everything that is in the letter is a valid point. What is the largest black Pentecostal body of Christ doing for it’s community? In stead of criticism, see what this brother is actually saying. Let’s not be blinded by, and so protective of someone actually questioning and giving a suggestion to the “Grand Ole Church of God in Christ”. We are bigger than that and the Church can do more.

    2. That’s only if you take the term uppity literally. Perhaps the use of the term signifies one who dare speak of things that “good negroes who know their place” who never address. Stumbling over that word blinds you to the very real truths in the letter/appeal. The concerns are applicable to every denomination which lays claim to Pentecostal power and Spirit infilling. If all that power produces are large convocations, conferences and conventions when they convene in urban centers all over the country is singing, shouting, frenzied preaching, in the context of fashion shows and a sanctified version of a Red Carpet event we are dead while we live. Time to tell, hear, promulgate the truth.

      1. I believe that COGIC was on the scene from the beginning.
        We have provided a lot of support to the family and protesters. Further more conventions have been a part of us for 107 years. Black people back in the day wore suits and hats everyday. The apparel is the same maybe just an up grade. Pray for the saints.

  2. Why dwell on the signature and not the content. Very well written…and yes I believe that it makes perfect sense. Sitting in a convention hall in a city that has wrongfully oppressed and depressed a community without justification should be turned upside down…I am in total agreement and would love to take part on this.

  3. Uppity Negro-
    : a fearless black person who by social definition is “not in their place” 
    :a Black person who is committed to reversing the crimes of self-refusal, self-denial, and self-hatred that are endemic to the Black community and detrimental to the Black psyche 
    : UNAPOLOGETIC. VAINGLORIOUS. MULTIFARIOUS. JUST AUDACIOUS. 

    Nelson Mandela, Zora Neal Hurston, and Frederick Douglas are some examples of the uppity negro.

  4. The people there need to understand this is a spiritual battle. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Maybe all the residents of Ferguson should come to the convention and get delivered, then maybe there won’t even be a response of violence, racism, prejudice, or hatred on either race side.

    1. We’ll see if it’s only a mere “spiritual battle” when your son is killed. The church is NO earthly good to anyone outside of those on the payroll at the church and also to the White-dominated society as a whole…simply because clowns keep the same cowardice attitude that you just typed about…thinking that “deliverance” in a Pentecostal way is the solution to the systemic injustices of this country. WAKE UP. Or else we will ALL know there is no GOD in YOU!!

      1. My son has a higher probability of being killed by someone who looks like him rather than a cop. “NO earthly good?” Tell that to Millions of Africans lives we saved. The fact that our Bishops stays in 3rd world countries with our money, feeding, and building the multitudes without the luxury of a liberal system that rewards them for having babies. “NO earthly good”? Tell that to the EMS and other other medical supplies we provided in the fight against Ebola. We are religious organization, not a political one.And trust me, you don’t want us to be political because our views for far Right. So Right that we birthed the Assemblies of God. It is a typical liberal controlled coon move to attack us or any church when we don’t comply to your views. We are not just for Black folks, we are for everyone. We are Christ based and not so eager to rally behind in a frenzy until all the facts are out. We don’t pick and chose, we are wiser than that. A White Cop kills a Black kid, that is horrible tragedy. However, is it less of a travesty that in my hometown a Black person killed a Sister because she didn’t give him her number? Where was the rally? Where was Rev A, and Rev. Jesse? You need to wake up and quit eating what the liberal media is feeding you. As true religious organization we are for the souls of everyone and event the cops. I we are heavenly minded, so heavenly focused we are worldly good.

      2. WE ARE IN A SPIRITUAL BATTLE!! MY SON WAS KILLED BY THE ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE DEPT. SEPTEMBER 17, 2014 WHILE I WAS IN TEXAS WALKING IN MY DAUGHTERS PLACE TO BREAK THE SILENCE OF OVARIAN CANCER. SHE DIED JUNE 23, 2014. IF THERE WERE EVER A TIME THAT MY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST WAS BEING TRIED, YOU BETTER BELIEVE THAT IT IS BEING TRIED IN FIRE JUST LIKE JOB. JUST LIKE JOB SAID ALL MY APPOINTED TIME, I AM GOING TO WAIT UNTIL MY CHANGE COME. IT IS NOW. THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION. IT IS THE BODY OF BELIEVERS WHO HAVE BEEN WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF JESUS. THERE ARE SAINTS JUST LIKE ME WHO ARE FIGHTING AGAINST THIS INJUSTICE TOWARDS ALL THE MIKE BROWNS. GOD IS NOT CONFUSED, NOR IS HE THE AUTHOR OF ANY KIND OF CONFUSION. THAT’S SATAN. HE WANTS EVERYBODY TO FIGHT WITH EACH OTHER. PRAYER IS THE KEY AND FAITH UNLOCKS THE DOOR!! GOD TELLS US WHAT TO DO IN II CHRONICLES 7:14. IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE SAINTS PRAYING FOR ME AND MY FAMILY, I WOULD BE HAVING AN EVEN HARDER TIME, BUT GOD KNOWS EVERYTHING, AND HE LOVES US!! GOD BLESS YOU!!

    2. 2 Chronicles 7:14 – If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

      Luke 14:23 – And the lord said unto the “servant”, Go out into the highways and the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

      Russ, you say this is a spiritual battle, you are right. But I ask when is the COGIC or any other denomination that say that are the true church of God going to do what is written in his Holy Word. It is time out for those in the building that is called the church/temple to go out and witness/minister to the people that need the help the most. Those in the building have been working so much on their own soul salvation that they are not “truly” concerned about those in the world. The people who are in the world (outside of the church) are tired of the judgmental and hypocritical people that grace the church pews every week. The people in the building give those of the world that they are better than them. I agree the people in the church building needs to come out and do what Jesus did in his 33 years of life on earth. He met the people where they were before they came into the church. When is the church (the people) really going to meet the needs of the communities that they are positioned in. Each denomination is in their current area because God wants to use them to meet the needs of the people in the community.

      It’s time out for those in the church to stop being so SUPPER SAVED, HOLY GHOST FILLED, WATER BAPTISED, TOUNGE TALKING AND SPIRIT DISCERNING inside the building and go out and use that same power that God has given them and use it to meet the needs of the people.

      If the people in the church will do as the two scriptures I quoted along with others that God has given us then our lives and world would not be in so much disarray.

      1. Michelle, this is absolutely the point I wanted to make in response, but I never would have said it so well!!! What good is having the Good News Gospel if it’s only share among yourselves .
        Mark 16:15 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

      2. Michelle I think people are not aware of the many groups that went out and represented the COGIC church. The entire thousands who were there did not protest but many did. The Bishop even presented a letter demanding justice. (Post is on internet). That is really what matters.
        Churches are going out to reach those on the street. There are many feeding programs, clothes closets, we have Sunday School the streets on Saturdays. As an educator and Pastor’s wife, people want the fishes and the loaves not Christ himself. All we can do is reach those who will receive him. The problem starts in the home not the church. If no one can get in to help the families who are in trouble the problem will remain. Let us continue to pray for all churches not criticize them.

  5. Perhaps you did this first, but a direct appeal would be in order as a first step. This is because if, at this late date, there were complications in pulling it together, then all members will have been unnecessarily shamed.

    No person, even Bishop Charles Blake, can make an executive decision to do this, and we are not certain that some other action has not been planned .

    An open letter should be reserved as a last resort.

  6. Reblogged this on A Kookie World and commented:
    This right here is such a bodacious call to action. I admire this gentleman and I pray that the COGIC will see how imperative their presence is in Ferguson! It is time for us to shake up this world!

    1. There are millions of Africans, homeless Americans, and impoverish that would strongly disagree with you. But what the heck, the Church is an easy target right?

    1. @Barrett

      The concept of an “open letter” is very much like a story submitted to the op-ed page of a newspaper. If the addressee of the letter chooses to respond, so be it, but the function of an “open letter” is more so for the people reading it than it is to the actual addressee. People write “open letters” to politicians and other public figures all the time, it’s very much the American way. That being said, if I had sent a private letter to Bishop Blake, it would have been just that, private, and no one would have known about it. My intent was to get people talking–and talk they have. I wrote it out of love for the institutional Black Church, and I penned it from the bottom of my heart and out of severe respect for the Church of God in Christ. This was not a letter of rebuke toward Bishop Blake, the General Board or anyone who identifies as a member of a COGIC church, but it was a call to action as a young adult of my generation that I expect that the Black Church that raised and nurtured me can be more than what it is right now; I believe God is requiring more of us right now.

      1. To many times. We miss, the mark. Intended target. Why go to practice, Yet still, when it’s times @ bat, no ozne hits. Swing and a miss, Or do we, even, swing?,

      2. Yes, the open letter is a commonly-used device. I don’t think, however, that a private letter’s effect has to remain private. That presumes that Bishop Blake is impervious to people’s voices. For my part, even if it were true that Bishop Blake doesn’t listen, I would extend the opportunity.

        I will say that I have made quiet proposals to him. You might be surprised at his level of humility.

      3. That’s it “Uppity” Educate your people. Your open letter did just what it was intended to do.

      4. Was the “love” context for which you wrote this letter to the institutonal Black Church suppose to: teach, admonish, discipline. If so, be it one or a combination, to what principle of spiritual growth and health does it ascend to. Does your witnessing of strange, wrenching, unnerving acts fuel the “severe respect” of the Church or expectancy and requirement of it.

        I can hear the beat of your heartache, sorrow, n youthful desire to respond. So to do Habakkuk, Joel, Peter, and the young man who spoke to Job.

        We don’t “utilize the Holy Spirit”- the Holy Spirit utilizes us. We can call upon the Spirit hweva we must remain confident it a request not a commanding.

        I am pleased to have read the letter and see there is still hope by the people collectively for diplomacy in our states n country throughout. Let us be vigilent in the proper timing the Lord God has set so to be fruitful n thus not burning our own desires out.

        P.s. We live in a place where VOTING members of a community, usually the majority, increase the change in law n practice- SO PUSH THOSE instate COGIC members, its nice to get the visitors help though, to get the ballot up n then get there to vote.

        Be ever hopefull and in good health tho times be everpresent trying.

  7. I was going to comment to Russ. Somebody already did. LORD help the church – what my mama say. But tell Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman to get delivered. Or how about Frederick Douglas, no tell Dr. Martin Luther King to get delivered. Better yet – YOU get delivered. JESUS went out and the multitude came to HIM. The power aint in the temple. It is found in embodied believers of JESUS who BELIEVE. Don’t get your hopes up in men with costumes on who desired the Bishopric office. They can’t deliver you and (some) don’t even have enough power to pray a common cold off, let alone a demon. I say if Bishop CE Blake cant keep his own clergymen from sexual immorality, surely he can get them to comply and march. Do something BISHOPS, the blood is on our hands.

    Submitted,
    ++Walter Rowe
    Durham, NC

      1. Really I do agree and concur with you. Why should they support a state that really care less about you, your race, and ethnicity. Who police officials even threaten and dare to shoot you. Definitely there are other places better than St. Louis.. Maybe the National Convocation (possibly for this year only) should have returned back to Memphis, esp. in light of all of this confrontations, chaos, and riots. Hopefully I pray that the residence of that state would be on their best behavior. Actually I feel that that some of the services should be outside those four walls in order to promote Christ and help change and save some folks lives. Certainly I hope and pray that thing won’t escalate esp. during the Convocation while all of the special guests, visitors, and COGIC’s saints are there.

  8. I love the intent of the letter. I agree with the writer that we as the COGIC should (if not already planed) do something while in town for the Convocation to show that we stand for justice. I must admit that I feel this letter should have been sent directly to the Presiding Bishop first. We aren’t sure but there may have been something already in the works. What about the hundreds of Pastors from the COGIC as well as other reformations that have been down there doing a great work. There have been thousands of dollars that Bishop Blake and the Urban Initiatives Program has sent to help aid. There have been cleanups organized on the streets of Ferguson by the COGIC. There are things being done. We are not turning a blind eye to things going on there.

  9. Though the brother writing the open letter is obviously an intelligent and articulate brother, and has a passion for the ills impacting our community, I don’t really think this was well conceived, in that it is more or less, as he pretty much admitted in his response to @Barrett Berry, a publicity type of piece, designed to draw attention and conversation. At this point, I don’t think much more attention could possibly be drawn or passions be more heightened, on the part of the entire black community, and specifically the black church, when it comes to the issues in Ferguson and St. Louis. To call out the leadership of the Church of God in Christ, and the COGIC family as a whole in this open letter style, is to basically ignore the facts, which as he only summarily alluded to, acknowledging some of the work done, the COGIC church and leadership has ALREADY been very vocal, upfront and active in the response to the tragic events in Ferguson. The COGIC family has taken a public position, through the Office of the Presiding Bishop and his representatives, COGIC Pastors have been part of the peaceful community response, the local COGIC Bishops have been an integral part, and the COGIC Evangelism Department has been out front having a tremendous impact in ways that the newspapers and general media outlets have NOT reported or drawn attention to. So this entire piece, while well written, is in my opinion in some ways disingenuous and/or intellectually dishonest. The COGIC family and leadership have already done much to attempt to effectuate change, and a call for all of the delegates to leave out of the convention halls during the Annual Convocation and march on Ferguson, is neither practical, nor truly end-goal oriented as a response to this crisis.

    1. @CuriousAboutFacts

      I acknowledged that COGIC has historically been connected to the civil rights movement, and yes, many individual COGIC churches in the St. Louis area have been out on the front-lines through this, Bishop Elijah Hankerson comes to mind. I’m well aware that COGIC provided the music to the family of Mike Brown at the funeral and have made their presence known. All I’m saying is that more can be done.

      I firmly believe that now is the time to turn the world upside down; do something radical; do something that the history books will HAVE to record. Meeting for the 107th time is not monumental in and of itself, but to let this 107th time be the time in which radical change happens. Yes, the COGIC family and leadership have done a lot to effect change, but it’s time to do more. And right now, COGIC is the denomination that’s meeting in St. Louis–how apropos. The AME quadrennial isn’t until 2016, National Baptist met in September in New Orleans–COGIC is in the position to lead the way for a mighty movement.

      1. I’m with you–now is the time to make history. We have to be wise enough, too, to consider that at least a few of our fathers want the same thing. It is an extremely astute maneuver to not alienate those who have paid a dear price, particularly the ones who may be thinking exactly what you are thinking.

  10. Uppity Negro, this is a nice piece. I like it and it’s point is obvious. COGIC will meet during and right after crucial mid-term elections and while ongoing protests continue in Ferguson. It would be a monstrous miscalculation to not act. With thousands present, even a prayer vigil in Ferguson, a tent revival, where you tarry with folks to be filled, and then register them to vote, and their names in the Lamb’s book of life, and then on a petition to challenge state and federal policy that is complicit in Michael Brown’s murder are the LEAST they can do!

    1. Most of this was done. The conventions are scheduled years in advance, even before this incident took place. To notify millions of people
      Of a cancellation is difficult. Even if the thousands of people did not go out, there was representation by hundreds of others. God Bless!!

  11. Tell the congregation to boycott giving their monies at the Convocation, then maybe they will start to hear you snd wake up!

    1. @MO, it is my tendency to not respond to those with a “lowbrow” type of response to what is certainly a serious issue. Appealing to the lowest type of thinking with salacious commentary is not an effective way to dialogue, when in honest and sincere and intelligent dialogue, we can often come to some good solutions. But your commentary begs a rejoinder. The statement and (inappropriate) generalization about the church that “they just wanna shout, dress up, drink, smoke and have sex” and the implication with “what’s a Ferguson” that the COGIC church or any such body of believers are not aware of the situation and don’t have a heart to work on helping our community, demonstrates clearly that you know absolutely NOTHING about the COGIC church or about the facts of the work that has already been done by the COGIC and others with respect to the pressing issues in Ferguson.

  12. Church of God in Christ is not radical for christ.We are a Holy Ghost filled Body of Christ set aside for the sanctification of God and his blessings we encourage all to be set apart from the world.God is sovereign no matter what happens in the world God is coming for the saints.

    1. “set aside for the sanctification of God” What does that even mean? Who set them aside…. God? Does that mean they have a predestination to watch God’s people suffer from afar? I think Jesus said “Go” more times than he said watch and wait.

  13. @Curiousaboutfacts! It’s true what you state concerning the response! Everyone has their own opinion about the perspective of how effective have the bodies of churches been! No it has not been all ppl! When it’s time to stand strong, who can the church raised black Americans depend on? Where I’m from, COGIC seemed more about that money!

  14. Thank you for writing this open letter…..I cannot believe all the reasons why some church folk do not think this a brilliant idea. When will the Church ever learn to leave the building? If Jesus stayed in the Temple as much as we avoid the issues of the “least of these” the Cross would have waited until usher board number two all got matching outfits. Proud of you my brother!

    1. Bless you brother Jackson. Please see my comments above, as you should be aware that the COGIC church has not been “avoiding the issues” of the “lease of these” among us, but the church has in fact been very active and upfront in working with all of the concerned parties and the community in Ferguson. Brother Uppity has a very articulate and well-written letter, it is just ill-conceived. We cannot ignore the facts that the COGIC church has been responsive and active on this issue all along, and that having the 35,000 saints leave the convention to march on Ferguson is neither pragmatic nor a valid end-goal oriented response to the crisis.

      1. An open air prayer meeting. A large evangelistic effort. A free concert that gathers folk to make an appeal for righteousness and reconciliation. A town hall style gathering that addresses the pathologies in our communities and the church’s commitment to helping, correcting…”There is none so blind as he who will not see.” So grateful to GOD that the apostles avoided being pragmatic.

      2. For the record, I am quite certain that Bishop Blake would not be offended by the open letter. He would welcome it inasmuch as it reflects his own sentiments and could help rally support for his efforts. The COGIC’s history of inertia on social issues is not something he owns, and yet by default, he possesses.

      3. My first impression of the letter was based upon the opinion that the letter shiuld have been sent to Bishop Blake first. If the motive was to move COGIC to action then that would have been the tactic of my choosing. After reflecting on the content of the letter I found some of the content and many of the responses valuable. I too (believe) Bishop Blake would find the letter “balanced.” If nothing else, this letter was timely, created good discourse, and allowed a venue for people to share their opinions. That being said, please consider sending correspondence to an esteemed leader first, receive her/his response and if not satisfied … go to the open letter. Humbly, my two cents…

  15. Reblogged this on The Naomi C. Kellogg Blog and commented:
    I am in awe at the beauty and truth in this letter. My prayer is that the call to respond is answered with action. It’s far past time for this movement to grow exponentially in the effort to strengthen the voices crying for justice, peace, and equality.

  16. I agree completely with the open letter. I however, believe that C.O.G.I.C. should have cancelled this convocation and hit the city of St. Louis where it hurts in their financial cofers. It is sad to say that they will probably do nothing! Cancelling the meeting would have spoken volumes and full page ad in the local newspaper explaining the cancellation would have been great along with a color photo of the Presidium of the church.

    1. Felecia, cancelling the convocation would not be practical nor legally possible as we have contractual obligations with the City of St. Louis. Attempting to break those contracts would not only hurt the very church which some want to make an impact, but would take away financial impact for the community which includes many of our own african-american people who are workers downtown, including black police officers who are not part of the abusive portion of the police force.

  17. I totally agree with this letter! 35,000 blacks coming to a city for more than just “a good time” is needed!!! Its time to turn the world right side up!

  18. Wow, wow, wow is my first natural thought, & then my spirit says: 2 Chronicles 7:14
    God answers with 4 conditions:
    (1) Humble yourself by admitting your sins,
    (2) Pray to God, asking for forgiveness,
    (3) Seek God continually,
    (4) Turn from sinful behavior.
    Whether we sin individually, as a group, or as a nation, following these steps will lead to forgiveness. God will answer our prayers. Standing firm on His WORD has never failed us yet.

    As in the days of old, God heard the cries of (injustice, bondage, oppression, slavery), from his people and He sent a messenger and deliverer. Moses, a vessel used and sent to lead 600,000 people out of (bondage, injustice, slavery, oppressionl), Egypt! Moses knew when it was time (Gods timing) for action.
    God showed Himsef strong, He showed the entire world HIS amazing power as the one who rescues His people.

    It is clear that God spoke to Moses and gave him instructions, the next step was “action.”
    If we have heard from the Lord & know what we should do, then its time to get moving.

    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says:
    ***1 To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    ***2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which is] planted;

    3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

    4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

    5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

    6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

    ***7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

    8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

    Proverbs 15:22 says:
    Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.

    Isaiah 55:8-9 says:
    “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
    For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
    Shalom

  19. I think while the concept is ingenious, the timing is wrong. However, if and when Bishop Blake decides to act it will be motivated by the unction of the Holy Ghost. Joshua L. Lazard, the Uppity Negro is on target but the timing is off.

    1. Although I am uncomfortable with the letter’s publication without any apparent effort to engage Bishop Blake directly, I do not agree that the timing is wrong. If not now, when?

      1. Not to be argumentative at all…just like to know facts. With whom did you inquire? And if he hasn’t he most certainly should. It doesn’t seem disrespectful to do so.

      2. Notice the inquiries herein, and Mr. Lazard’s responses, with which for the record I have no dispute. He explained the purpose of the open letter device, something I understand, and I only suggested that the personal approach can sidestep presumption.

    2. why is the timing off? now is the time… we must stop having meetings to have a meeting to decide what we’re going to do… all of this politics is destroying Christianity… Jesus didn’t wait to discuss things over with the disciples or the leaders of His time… He acted according to the needs…

  20. FYI….COGIC has been very active in Ferguson, MO doing what surely pleases God, “winning lost souls to Christ!: They have been out there in the trenches from the onset. The protesters should take time out and come to the convocation and get a dose of what God is offering. Have you addressed letters to other faiths? Did you ask the same of Joyce Meyers who held her large convention at the same facility? Have you forwarded letters to other faiths that are also having other services, maybe not at the Edward Jones Dome, but there are many functions going on in the city of St. Louis by other faiths. There is a time and a place for everything…..cancelling the convocation is not going to make the Grand Jury move any faster in coming up with a decision as it pertains to the officer that took the life of Michael Brown.

  21. The best thing about his letter is that it is before the Convocation. I hope this letter asking for a prophetic voice to speak is actually sent. If this letter is sent then the lack of a prophetic voice coming from this church can not be white washed and excused. This is a call to action and it is being given in a timely fashion. So make sure the letter is sent. We will see if there is a prophet among them.

  22. I hope your request is denied by the ruling body of COGIC. No one has addressed the disrespect of Michael Brown in intimidating and pushing around an old man in his place of business. Proverbs 17:15 tells us not to justify the wicked and condemn the just. This is not a just cause for COGIC to defend. COGIC can call for restraint in policing in this country but there must be a respect for law and order. Trayvon Martin is a just cause but not Michael Brown. It is unfortunate Michael Brown was killed. Michael Brown and his behavior contributed to his own death. Use of force by a cop is part of the job and people know that. Black and white cops have that right. Why don’t you ask the question to the people of Ferguson why they do not participate in elections to make the city reflect the population.

  23. Canceling the Convocation? Let us think logically for a moment What about the thousands that have purchased tickets, and hotels? What about the contract that COGIC has signed with the city of St Louis that the convocation will take place during this time? This event is not two months of planning and boom it happens. The tragic event that happened with Mike Brown took place in August two months ago. I don’t think it would be wise or business minded to just up and cancel something of this magnitude at last minutes notice. You certainly would not do that if you were the coordinator. I believe there will be many individuals on the streets during the time of the convocation just as its been already. To just say that “all they want to do is shout” would mean that you know and have conversed with every member of the COGIC and they have stated why they don’t want to help on the streets of Ferguson .

  24. I commend your courage and candor. I feel your passion and believe that your letter was written respectfully. Publicizing your letter does not seem to be an afront to Bishop Blake of the COGIC. It is a reminder to all of us who are Christians and active in the church that we do have power and we are called to utilize it to stand against oppression and unrighteousness. In addition to organizing a march, it will be great if my COGIC brothers and sisters would make every effort to spend their money frugally in the city. Their voice will be heard louder if they can limit the revenue to the area from the large crowds who will be in attendance. It will cost too much in penalities to cancel, but they can surely send a message if spending is well below previous years. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I can’t say for sure, but my earlier remarks cover that. Firstly, it’s wise to call attention to someone else’s pathos and struggle before one’s own, and thereby skirt accusations of presumption. The purpose for that would be solidarity. Secondly, he might find in the bishop a refreshingly surprising listener.

      I do know that Bishop Blake is extremely concerned about human rights issues and is outraged over the flow of events in Ferguson. His head is not in the sand.

  25. I give this letter a standing ovation!

    I am a small business owner and I work relentlessly to assist my brothers and sisters with building their professional brand to land better career opportunities. In the past, approaching the church was as if I were trying to sell crack to a kid. It has frequently been met with resistance. I no longer try to connect with job seekers through the church. However, I am not dismayed, but encouraged by this letter and subsequent dialogue. Kudos and many thanks my friend!!!

  26. I sure hope they TIP the folks that serve them during this convention. When they were in Memphis they were rude and cheap. Many were con artists. They treated waiters and service people like crap. Not very Christian at all.

    1. Indeed. I noticed the same practice in Memphis a few years ago. I mentioned it to Bishop Blake and the next Sunday he told people to tip before his official day message.

  27. It is amazing to me, how a so-called “open letter” to Bishop Charles Blake and the Church of God in Christ- concerning Ferguson’s need for the Church of God in Christ to “turn the world upside down”- has instead become a free-for-all slam against COGIC, its members, preachers, practices, services, and behavior. But, I am not surprised… It was an opening to already anxious people who obviously wanted to jump on and down the throats of COGIC… and who would readily use the atrocity that occurred in Ferguson as a vehicle to accomplish the task. Who of YOU has actually done what you applaud the uppity negro for suggesting/demanding of the COGIC?

    And, why limit the invitation to COGIC, just because the convocation will be in St. Louis? There are so many denominations and religious organizations RIGHT THERE, that have yet to step up to the situation. There are many others, whether they land in St. Louis for a convention or not, that have the money and MANPOWER to affect change (all of whom are known and documented to have indulged in the various vices afore-mentioned and attributed to COGIC conventioners, by the way…). If they can organize [an almost] Million Man March for Washington, why can’t that also happen in St. Louis/Ferguson? Why hasn’t it happened YET? And then, there are those fraternities and sororities whose presence is mighty in colleges, but obviously weak in the neighborhoods that some HBCs derive their student bodies from. Where are the Masons, the Kappas, the Alphas, the AKAs, or the Deltas in Ferguson? Well… you may be able to pinpoint their “participation” in the protests, and the Church of God in Christ can also (and did) pinpoint their participation, so far. But, the truth is this: the “members” who need to have their voices be heard are the members of the AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY, AT LARGE… not just a church group, visiting for a few days. There are fare more members in the African American community, than in the Church of God in Christ… even in the St. Louis and Missouri region, who need to UNIFY and speak with one mind against the perpetration of Genocide! Together, WE can “turn the world,” and maybe, we can turn it right side up.

    But, this going on and on about when the saints come marching in to St. Louis… with their big hats, bad manners, sexing, and money minds? What is that accomplishing? Nothing… Except, it is embarrassing that, once again, we have shown our ugly under-belly, and taken up a battle against our own… We just cannot seem to stop bashing each other… No one, not even our own religious denominations are exempt. And, what about Michael?

  28. The three points articulated in the challenge to Bishop Blake were generally strong suggestions. We may differ on the tactic of marching, but the main policy points are strong.

    Everyone reading this reply, please add to the discussion by articulating what you think the economic and political tactics the Church of God in Christ should engage in while in St. Louis.

    COGIC will probably not cancel the convocation and march 35,000 people anywhere. That being stated, what additional steps beyond the steps suggested should COGIC entertain?

    This is an election year. Unfortunately, the primary elections have been held and the candidates on the ballot are “probably” not the candidates the community would enjoy in office. I understand there is a write-in candidate running for mayor of Ferguson. Beyond the election, what politically related steps should COGIC consider?

    We may differ on the distribution of the article, but I trust the energy created has generated constructed conversations. It is my guess; this letter has been read . . . by many.

    Thank you.

  29. Why are Blacks in America are still marching holding hands and begging for change? what blacks do not understand they are fighting a 400 year old spirit that will not die, u can not fight something in the natural that is spiritual and marching is natural act. The bible says there is a time and season for everything a time for war a time for peace, but Black folks just want to March and hold hands, how can god help u if u are not willing to help your self, Blacks are dancing and shouting every Sunday while there is a war going on …

    1. Just for clarification, are you saying that marches are a waste of time? That there should not have been marches on Washington, Selma, Montgomery, Chicago, etc.

      Are you saying that Dr. King wasted his life and should never have gone to march on Memphis?

      1. What we did in the the past does not work, what actually brought change was the Bus Boycott which directly hit them in the pockets, what other of people do u see marching? Would the Jews march hell no, Black power in America is their spending start marching away from the stores that’s a plan ..Blacks in America do not have a plan…

  30. Reblogged this on #ThatGuyTy and commented:
    As someone who found faith in the Church of God in Christ , this declaration and call to action is critical. I know as someone who is a progressive christian myself, I often wrestle with the complacency of the Black Church and the way it turns a deaf ear to social conditions of it’s constituency. I’m so glad someone had the audacity to pen such an article.

  31. So many of these Religious Social Clubs forget about those on the outside of their Church Buildings, but little do they know it is God that has invited them to the wedding and many will be left because of their pride and material wealth. But it will be those that live on the outside, the highways and hedges that will be invited to the wedding on that day
    .

  32. Strike the Iron while its hot. What are we willing to risk for the changes we desire and deserve. Our luxurious stay at a 4 or 5 star hotel, our vacation for a week of fellowship and enjoyment, our musical celebration and sweet melodious sounds whispering in our ears while at the same time shutting out the cries of the unfortunate and those who have been marginalized. What are we willing to put up and sacrifice for the changes which are so desperately needed within our society and our country. Surely, this opportunity awaits us and a door has been open to bring about change and it is at such a time as this that these events have been taking place and also being played out not only on a local and national, but much more on an international stage with the world’s largest black denomination at the forefront. Forget all of the past failures and setbacks, it is time for the sleeping giant to rise to its former self and stand on the principles upon which it was founded leading the way for others to follow. However, should we fail to act now just know that this opportunity may very well only come around once and should we abort this opportunity due to unpreparedness, lack of concern or care and even due to the spirit of fear then know that God himself will bring about deliverance through some other means. In the book of Esther chapter 4:12-14 it reads as thus,” And they told Mordecai Esther’s words. 13) Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. 14) For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Selah. Always remember and I close with this- To whom much is given, much is required. COGIC you have been given much, now it is time to Sugar Honey Ice Tea or get off the pot. nough said , I’m out. In other words Strike the Iron , while it is Hot.

  33. This unfortunately uses emotionalism that causes us to ignore the obvious. Although COGIC international is a force, what happened in Ferguson can be linked to the church being pushed out of these same areas, God Not Allowed in the space where change is needed most — the heart. But now an “open letter” to a truly favored and holy ghost representation of God’s Authority On Earth in an almost accusatory tone cuts to the problem. Individuals refuse the church and it’s teachings, led by the Holy Spirit daily, when we go out to witness, when we walk these streets with simply the power of Jesus to change their lives, and instead reject and ridicule the same church this letter is basically stating is responsible to turn such a situation around — that is prevalent country wide, this letter seems braggadocious and attention seeking. This is far larger than a church of God in Christ convocation. This is about the local community in Ferguson standing up and saying, “we will not stand for this”, organizing and rallying all denominations (not just 1) and races locally for change. What if 35,000 missori-ites walked on ferguson peacefully, intellegently speaking with officials and local representatives to hammer out a understanding between those who live there and those who govern there. Thus the convocation will come and go, and may never be back to St. Louis. What, dear author — is this underestimated mass of dressed up human flesh going to do come November 12th? Theyre going back home to their own “Ferguson”. These things must be and were prophesied to happen in the last days. It is our job as a body not to change the climate created by them kicking God out the government 40 years ago, no — our job is to minister to the soul in need of Jesus (who himself was killed and left on a cross for 6 hours, uncovered). We get too emotionally attached and involved with these political issues when if your biblical worldview glasses were on, you would CLEARLY see this is a distraction from what is really going on. America itsself is going to hell and the Church of God in Christ gets called out when she is already doing what God called her to do and more than a lot of people know. The Catholic Church is currently rewriting their bylaws to reflect acceptance of Homosexuality in the Catholic churches! We as a body are coming together to be strengthened by the God who called us, saved us and raised us as a last days church — the same God kicked out of the country He authored and though Ferguson is a very real issue, it’s not deserving of any more attention than Demontre Hamiltons lack of justice in Milwaukee, or Tray von martin in Florida — it won’t cease, we can only be ready when it comes our way because it will. Pray God’s safety and angels of protection over this generation and strengthen ourselves locally, we must change locally because anyone who can openly reject Jesus in the governments, schools and homes and in the same breath turn around and say it’s y’all responsibility to stand up for us, well Jesus himself said, once you’ve been rejected, they’ve really rejected me and it’s a witness against them. Effort can be exerted but sustainable change will not be because the COGIC convocation marched the streets of someone else’s city for one day. Pray, pray PRAY because dearheart we are in the last days and these things must be and will be getting worse. Rightly Divide the truth if you are a true Christian. Do not allow your race to cloud your Judgement on what God s Allowing in these last days. Let me re-iterate, something does need to happen — but right there in Ferguson — by Ferguson. Just like Milwaukee needs to work on Milwaukee.

  34. I Have Read Everybody’s Comments And Statements, The Situation In Ferguson Has Nothing To Do With Bishop Blake,The General Board Or The Church Of God In Christ!! If The City Of Ferguson & St.Louis Want Change The Must Exercise The Right To VOTE!!! No One Can Help Them But Them!!! They Must Stop Fighting Each Other And Work Together And That’s How You Get Results!!!! All Of The Pentecostal Conventions Can Come To St.Louis ASt The Same Time And It Won’t Make Any Difference, They Must VOTE To Make Things Happen For Them. Don’t Make This A COGIC Issue Please!!! Educate The Young Black Men To Vote Instead Of Doing Other Things That Is Not In There Favor!!! VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!!!!!!!

    1. @Brian ” All Of The Pentecostal Conventions Can Come To St.Louis ASt(at) The Same Time And It Won’t Make Any Difference” This sure isn’t saying much for the Pentecostal movement. Nevertheless, the truth is the light. So in other words we may have money and a new jet, a mansion on the hill and a big fat bank account, but that is about all we negros have because it still don’t amount ta nuttin. MMMnnn something to thing about, Selah.
      @Keyblazer “the Church of God in Christ gets called out when she is already doing what God called her to do and more than a lot of people know. The Catholic Church is currently rewriting their bylaws to reflect acceptance of Homosexuality in the Catholic churches!” My dear brother do you have any idea how much money is spent protecting the adulterers, pedophile, homos and rapists by this organization yearly. Its a matter of public record mind you. Wake up and smell the coffee before it is everlasting to late. One thing about a brick thrown into a pack of animals, only the one hit will scream out and yell. I think the uppity negro has thrown a brick and consequently here comes the yelling at the very least he has struck a nerve.

      1. I am very happy and delighted if the brick has hit the right leaders in the church and I hope they yell loudly. I for one would love to see leaders to are known to abuse and misuse people and money demoted. I would love to see a new presiding bishop in 2016, one that is spiritual like our founder Bishop Mason. I am so tired of all the superstars of the church. I would love to see them fade into the background and make room for people who really love God and are about His Glory.

    2. Brother Brian you are wrong. This situation in Ferguson has everything to do with THE CHURCH everywhere. We have the power to shape and change situations through prayer and fasting. In this sense it has just as much to with the COGIC as it does with all the Christian church. And yes there is someone who can help them other than them. Your statement lack faith in God and what He can do if we life Him up in the biblical way. Voting is only a small piece of the puzzle. I will agree that the way they are fighting in Ferguson is not helping resolve the situation, but again this is the correct time that THE CHURCH can shine in the biblical way as well as speaking out against injustice.

  35. I was one of the ones who responded to your first post of the “open letter” and certainly give you credit for being a well-read, intelligent and perceptive young man. You seem to be someone who holds to or at least parallels with a liberation theology, and you bash the denomination by comparing it to clergy in the 1960’s that “failed to see the need to craft a social justice theology”. I have heard many of the learned arguments both for and against liberation theology. My primary issue is that on the surface, it is difficult for me to interpret any of Jesus’ teachings, or even the Apostles preaching and actions as anything other than what context clearly makes them, which are teachings of the Kingdom of God, obedience to God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact that Jesus, as well as the Apostles in the Acts of the Apostles, challenged the status quo and “upset the apple cart”, was simply the effect of their teaching and preaching on those in power. But for the modern church, the message and the preaching itself is the critical thing to remember, rather than the effect of the preaching on social justice.

    I DO believe the church should impact the community. But I believe that impact should be through the message of change that the Gospel brings. I don’t think that the “activism” of marching, protest, etc. is the primary purview or responsibility of the church or clergy, notwithstanding my respect for Dr. King and his principles. The primary responsibility of the church as the “pillar and ground of truth” is to declare to the world the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that is just what the Church of God in Christ has been doing, even in relation to Ferguson. And to almost belittle the preaching that has saved souls during the “glory train” in Ferguson as if that is of no consequence, misses that it is in fact of the greatest consequence, because in that instance the church, as the body of Christ and His “ambassador”, is doing exactly what is its job and primary function, which is to bring hearts and souls to knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    There are community based organizations whose primary organizational mandate is the pursuit of social justice, such as the NAACP and the National Action Network. And where possible the church can and should partner with those organizations to impact the community and argue for social change. However, the church must maintain its focus on preaching the Gospel and building the Kingdom of God, as that comprises the “greater works” which Jesus stated those that followed His name would do in His name. Though Jesus’ teaching was radical and challenged both the Sanhedrin and the Roman culture, Jesus never organized any marches on Rome, nor did He organize protests, He simply taught the people such that they could walk in a greater understanding and relationship with God the Father. The Apostles challenged the status quo because of the teaching in the name of Jesus which the status quo denied his Deity, but neither did they organize marches or protests against the powers that be, but rather when the powers that be committed injustice against them, whipped and jailed them, they organized PRAYER MEETINGS! Such examples that have been set before us in the Word are the what the modern church should adhere to. Stay on mission and on target and the Church will fulfill its God-ordained purpose in the earth.

    1. Jesus’ so-called “Triumphal Entry” is arguably a march on Rome and a counter-demonstration since on the opposite end of Jerusalem Pilate led Roman soldiers in for annual “peace-keeping” measures during the festivals.

      My concern for Mr. Lazard is not that his ideas lack merit, but that he seems to imagine that he is alone in his concern for these issues, as though the Church of God in Christ is inert when in fact they are doing much more than blogging a voice against people they should be advocating.

    2. Well as for the NAACP of Missouri, you better be careful about joining their ranks with Mary Ratliff in the leadership role. She has zeal, but often her judgment is questionable. I know her personally. She seems to get it wrong more often than right.

      If the Church wants to fulfill its God-ordained purpose she needs to return to the very principles of its founders, and they are praying and fasting – seeking the Lord. Go back and read the history, power and testimonies about Bishop C.H. Mason. Partnering and running behind national movements is not always the correct position for the church to find herself.

  36. I for one am very glad about this open letter to Bishop Blake. For those reading this comment know that Mr. Lazard is on the money. The Church Of God In Christ is in spiritual and moral decline. All one needs to do is listen to preachers like Bishop Carlis Moody and Elder Carter and they will know this. We have Bishop’s and leaders in COGIC who are mean, egotistical, power hungry, and lover’s of money. Look at the infighting among bishops. Look at how poorly Bishop Blake supported the truthful Elder Carter. Convocation has become nothing more than a family reunion. It certainly lacks the spiritual level of the former days of our founder. He would be greatly disappointed.

    While stationed in Germany I very disappointed with our first administrative assistant and Department of Women Supervisor. My how the mighty have fallen. The church over there was once a large money maker for the COGIC. I bet it was nice to run to Memphis and put on a show for the church giving all that money. Now as the military closes it bases so goes a church closing. Talk about having an impact on the community.

    The church here in the U.S. is much more disappointing on the larger scale. We should have term limits for the presiding Bishop. The current leader is lacking and secular. Too worried about what outsiders think, and seemingly unwilling to stand up for holiness.

  37. Great letter! All that push back in the comments. The 107th will be remembered for worldwide for two things 1. Supt. Carter’s sermon. 2. “I’ve been delivert” alter call and the continuing fallout. How sad.

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