Re- con- cilia –tion Less Metanoia (Repentance) Equals Zero


foundin-fathers-praying_edited-2Leonard Lovett, Ph. D

Bishop Thomas Dexter Jakes: Let me commend you for having the courage to do “something” instead of “nothing” as a response to the escalating crisis on race in America. You have quite an array of names included in the one hundred and fifty (150) leaders from the Faith Community invited to the one day forum at your church on the 2015 King Holiday. I was startled to see that Pastor Frederick Haynes or Tony Evans were not in the line up since both have been most vocal in Dallas to challenge social evil and injustice while other leaders have lived under the cloud of stark silence except for media show time. Your partnering with Bishop Harry Jackson of the High Impact Leadership Coalition is of special interest. I wish Washington Post columnist Hamil R. Harris (January article) would have done a little more research to set the context for your interview. He would have discovered that what you are attempting is a dated simulated replay of what was optimistically called the “1994 Memphis Miracle.” A premature celebration took place on the eve of the1994 Conference after symbolic gestures took place such as white leaders washing the feet of black leaders with the love embrace of forgiveness. Many left on the high notion of celebration that racism among the Pentecostal- Charismatic Movement had suffered a fatal blow. I led in the drafting of a “Manifesto on Racial Reconciliation” which was to be sure evidence of our profound intent and gut level seriousness. Some twenty-one (21) years later, not only are many of the key participants deceased, but what was touted as a miracle was a mirage. The problem then was that repentance was not taken seriously. So, here we go again, same call, different players.

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Dr. Lovett Invites “Preacher’s of LA to Ferguson


                       Dr. Lovett Invites the“Preachers of LA” to Visit Ferguson

     It is ironic that none of the “Preachers of LA” live or pastor in Los  Angeles proper. which premises the reality show on a falsehood. A few of them started in Los Angeles but  transitioned to Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles Counties and more recently Antelope Valley as their demographic shifted.  My burden is to challenge them to abandoned their comfort zone and visit Ferguson to engage in reality based ministry. In a metaphorical sense Ferguson is a microcosm of every hood in this nation where marginalized persons are struggling for survival in spite of all the external glitter. During the show’s inception, one preacher stated with glee that “their purpose was to show that ministers could live the same as professional athletes and celebrities.”  If that is their primary purpose, I honestly believe that the Jesus of Scripture will have major concerns with motive. “If money is your motive for ministry you are already corrupt even if you never steal one dime.”  Richard Exley – Peril of Power

      Let me be clear. We must remember that this is a show designed for entertainment for a hefty fee. The actors are not even fair amateurs.  They are pastors with their wives and significant others by vocation, so beware, what they say on this show is not the Gospel. Some clever media consultant in the cinema industry thought of a way they could birth another reality show. They reasoned that the Church should be the one sanitized institution that could be the perfect  match for “Housewives from________”  No one told them that the church is full of sinners trying to be saved. The problem is that in the Church of Jesus Christ, which is the “pillar and ground of truth” according to Paul the Apostle, any rival claim or purported truth has to be judged by the One who is the Truth. As an ethicist I do not see “Preachers of LA” as a moral or immoral concern, but rather an amoral issue. On its merits it lies in the realm of neutrality. The larger concern is that the participants by virtue of who they are may impact their constituency by reputation. The relationship episodes does reveal clues to human behavior and how people really act behind closed doors. Ministers too are human. The questions raised as a theologian and apologist of the faith is whether the conversation and lifestyle portrayed on the show is really Christian, or does it mirror the fallen world which is under judgment. As a pastor emeritus who is actively involved in mentoring and instructing leaders I reserve judgment.

     Jesus often rebuked the religious sects of his time for their ostentatiousness. Defined as being characterized by pretentious show in an attempt to impress others; to attract notice. In the middle of his discourse on the Sermon on the Mt. Jesus stated in bold language, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20v. RSV). Do we really have the luxury of using the church as a reality show while our communities are edging closer to a real social holocaust. I invite the “Preachers of LA” to visit Ferguson which is only a few miles from where they reside. I became a pastor in LA a little over a decade after the “Watts riot” and left the year subsequent to the riots following the Rodney King incident. Within a year as pastor of the Church at the Crossroads, Peniel Church of God in Christ, I watched a horrific police beating of a brother at El Segundo and Central Avenue while assisting members with a transportation challenge. The day after the incident I went to the Firestone Sheriff Station to register my concern. The watch commander made a symbolic promise to investigate. God expects us to stand toe-to-toe with social evil as it takes place. From that experience I was part of a crisis team out of Mayor Bradley’s office that emerged during potentially explosive situations. {Dr. Cecil Murray of First AME was also a part of that team}. Relationship with community law enforcement should be in place prior to a crisis. There are no short term band aid fixes for community chaos. Prior to coming to LA,  I spent one year as a consultant on affirmative action with the Oakland Police Department under Assistant Chief Odell Sylvester who later became police chief of Berkeley. “Preachers of LA” you cannot save your immediate communities by showmanship from the pulpit alone. The Incarnation (God enfleshed) must be made real in the “blood, guts and tissue of community.” We must in the words of Ezekiel “sit where they sit.”

      I invite you to visit Ferguson because for People of Color indeed this is exilic America. This is the only  place in the free world where young black’s are killed in epidemic disproportions by white law enforcement officers who are skillfully using fear as justification to kill innocent victims.  Recent FBI statistics tell us that a white police officer killed a black person twice a week, on average in the USA during a seven-year period from 2005 to 2012. To the supporters of Darren Wilson the killer of Michael Brown in Ferguson, this statistic is laughable. If Michael Brown was white the police approach and outcome would have been different. The race card is the only one you have given us because this does not happen to young white males. The white establishment mentality is so geared to “blaming the victim” they have become de-sensitized to bad police conduct. Darren Wilson may be exonerated in a court of law, but he will be held accountable by the “moral law of the universe” that assures us that “one may get by” but “no one gets away.” “Preachers of LA” I implore you to leave the dalliance and splendor of the bright lights of Hollywood and spend some time in Ferguson. It will not be pretty. In fact it will be ugly but far more redemptive.  Your Ferguson is really next door. Ezell Ford was killed in South Central Los Angeles at the time the demonstrations were escalating in Ferguson. Two final request. 1) Do not be a symbolic leader who shows up at the apex of a crisis like a vulture in search of prey seeking a media sound  byte  espousing  a lot of worthless rhetoric trying to look important. 2) Be a substantive leader and use your prestige and influence to call upon the Attorney General to make sure any case involving the senseless demise of black humanity be brought to full justice.  I personally implore President Obama to personally intervene by calling for a moratorium on senseless killing of black humanity all over this nation in order to prevent the “fire next time.”  The “weeping prophet”  was admonished to “Seek the welfare of  the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”  Jeremiah 29:7

Dr. Leonard Lovett, Ecumenical Officer COGIC

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