Most successful communities are afforded three pillars by which a society thrives; good schools, local governments and institutions of faith. Concerns regarding police brutality, unemployment, and lack of programs for our youth, along with a laundry list of other issues are making living conditions unbearable and unsafe within our community.

As I sit in church today, I see faces of hope and rejoicing in the spirit and moment of solitude, an oneness with God.  Today’s message is about remaining hopeful and positive while on the spiritual journey that has prepared for you by God. Ironically, I feel at this moment that God would rather the church be more of a voice of action than a bystander, allowing history to be written on the backs of the less fortunate, with in our community.

This is not an indictment on all churches in East Orange, but I have personally experience a variety of our churches that do nothing but provide lip service in the face of massive community depravation. Our community of East Orange is suffering from lack of vision. Churches can’t end at the cutoff time, when services end. Religion is about commitment, love and respect for your fellow man. How can it be possible that the only way to improve our community is through the constant raising of taxes and water bills, or tying our fate to a golf course that has never lived up to the expectation of generating revenue to help the city?

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I once sat in a church where the Reverend spoke out about the extrapolation of money, and getting nothing in return. To my surprise, that Reverend has become a friend of mine due to the commonality of being unified in hopes of saving our community. The troubling trend, not just in East Orange, NJ but in America, is that too many of our Pastors and Reverends appear to be too close to our elected officials thereby causing a conflict of interest. If a member of your church community accepts employment by government officials, how would they be able to represent your people fairly and without bias in their spiritual sanction? There may be a conflict between church values and values within the chain of command in the local government.   

So I ask when does, God through osmosis transfer his will through his Reverends, Pastors and Bishops.  And more importantly, have these church officials become the Shepherds’ that God has intended them to be?  I recall during my days of Bible Study that Jesus Christ became annoyed with the temple, regarding how they misused the church and how they treated the poor In fact; he overturned a table expressing his anger. That action substantiates that Jesus Christ himself was one of the first advocates for the poor or politically current term, low income population. Remember, Jesus was about fairness, respect and equality. 

It appears that the meaning of the Christian religion has been abandoned within the black community.  The moral obligation, towards helping each other, should reside with the community.  Church leaders can become creative and proactive in solving some of these issues to help improve the community of East Orange. Jesus Christ was a man of action.    For every action there is a reaction is one of the laws of the universe. Churches have to do more than talk. Sometimes, you have to walk the walk. Billy Graham stated, ““If you don’t make a decision then time will make it for you and time will always side against you!”

UPWARD EAST ORANGE is working to provide choice and knowledge to the community that can either enforce change or continue to be a part of this failed social experiment that WE are all too familiar with in East Orange.  The time has come for the Church Communities to stand with its citizens rather than stay on the sidelines and continue your silence. The choice is yours.