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Is church essential service?

Question & Answer


Q: By Dean

I have never been as disappointed in the church as I am today. The church should and must be open to the public. For the Church not to see itself as an essential service shows the viewpoint the church has of themselves within their community. And if they do not see itself as an essential service then how do they expect the community to see them? Is it not the Church’s job to look beyond propaganda? To be the voice of truth, not the voice of the government?

A: By Rev. Dr. Velda R. Love


Dear Dean,

In order to respond to your question, I had questions of my own. I wondered if you belonged to a particular denomination, or if you’re a practicing believer with a particular church affiliation. I’m not privy to this information, therefore I will do my best to provide a thoughtful response.

The church is not now nor has ever been monolithic in its mission, vision, doctrines, and missional intent. As an educator, I wonder if you’re disappointed because the Christian Church has been influenced by Western ideology and Eurocentric beliefs in supremacy and not justice for all of its citizens.

I grew up in the Black church with an emphasis on Black Power and liberation and Womanist theology. The members were the church. We gathered in a building that represented a sacred space of worship and fellowship. Our affiliation was with a particular denomination, but there was autonomy to shape and plan our worship and communal experiences based on our demographics, social location, and ethnic and cultural identity.

We are the church after church, which means we represent the body of Christ in our homes, and with our neighbors. We are the embodiment of the living God in our communities, at work, and while in school. We are the church everywhere our physical bodies are present. We are the church! We serve each other in order to serve the world around us. Our alignment is with God. Our faith is rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ. And, we support our communities and each other because of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. We remain unashamedly black, and unapologetically Christian. Our theological and biblical commitments are to the radial teachings of a Palestinian Jew born in proximity to Northeast Africa.

This is how the community sees itself in relationship to the Christian Church. It is to be an essential member of one’s faith community seeking truth and liberation for all God’s people. In closing, our faith community does not adhere to Eurocentrism and nationalism. We are not bound by myths of white skin supremacy and rugged individualism. We are people of deep faith with a sacred obligation to care for our all of our neighbors.

The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Us!
The Spirit of the Lord is upon us, because God has anointed us to bring good news to the poor. God sends us to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4: 18-19

The challenge for all of us is to read the Bible from the margins, listen to the narratives of the oppressed, and return to a reading that is subversive and anti-imperial for the sake of a liberating gospel.

~ Rev. Dr. Velda R. Love

About the Author
Rev. Dr. Velda R. Love currently serves as Minister for Racial Justice in The Justice and Witness Ministries of The United Church of Christ. Velda has a working knowledge of critical race theory and creates comprehensive and strategic approaches for UCC national conferences, congregations, and staff colleagues to explore and understand the intersection of racial justice with other justice issues. Velda brings an African-centered approach inclusive of biblical and theological knowledge in liberation and womanist perspectives

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