Reconnecting clergy and civil rights
Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas, M.Ed. | 4/23/2017, 9:13 a.m.
The black church in America has been synonymous with the history and struggle for civil and human rights in our nation. From the arrival of the first slave ship to America until today, when African-Americans, minorities and other groups are increasingly under assault by partisan politicians and anti-civil rights interest groups, it is urgent and more important than ever that black churches reconnect with civil rights groups, like the NAACP to challenge the turning back of the clock and reversal of the rights of persons of color, working class folks, seniors and women.
On February 12 of this year, the Bethel AME Church of Woodbury, New Jersey celebrated NAACP Sunday with a dynamic and moving service. When it comes to “Reconnecting Clergy and Civil Rights,” the congregation at Bethel AME Church is on track. Gloucester County NAACP President Loretta Winters, in her speech entitled “Courage”, communicated a strong message to the congregation and others that attended to honor the role of the black church in its support of the Civil Rights Movement. She talked about the present challenges the black community and others are facing with the majority political philosophies among our politicians in Washington, DC. Winters’ proposal that the Gloucester County NAACP and black churches throughout Gloucester County strengthen our ties was enthusiastically applauded by the packed church. Leading the applause was Reverend Charles Boyer, Winters’ family members and members of the Gloucester County NAACP who attend Bethel AME.
The Gloucester County NAACP was honored in what it considered a loving tribute to its continual work, guided by its great faith in a living God; offered by the congregation, Reverend Boyer and Evangelist who presided over the lively church service. The clear message that resonated from what Reverend Boyer said on that important day is his absolute steady, rock solid commitment to equality and justice for all people. This commitment, many in the congregation said, grows out of a deep love of God rather than anger and rage at injustice.
The Gloucester County NAACP believes that if the NAACP connects the black church and other clergy with the NAACP, we can turn the present trend in Washington, DC around. From his words and his deeds, Reverend Boyer has the interest of advocates and supporters at heart. He himself is connected and committed to advocating against any action that affects our hard-earned civil rights and benefits obtained through struggle. Winters, a long-time champion of civil rights, will lead the Gloucester County NAACP, which added 20 new members at the NAACP Sunday event, to fight back against attempts to gut our civil rights and attack our future and our family’s future.
We are all too familiar that in life everything has its time, as the Bible says. There is a time to laugh, another to cry, time to be silent, time to talk; time to love and time to hate; and time for war or time to make peace. We’re all so ready for the war of the November presidential campaign to be over. We all desire peace, reconciliation and pulling together as citizens of the greatest country in the world to improve the quality of life for all our people, regardless of their background.
So as many of us are longing for the warmer weather, blooming flowers and spirit of new birth with the renewal of Easter, lets us strengthen our ties with our faith community and move forward in prayer and in struggle. Let’s reconcile with God and return to Him, in order to find ourselves again. God bless you and our journey to “be free at last!’
Wilfredo Rojas is Communication Chair for Gloucester County NAACP and Special Assistant to Loretta Winters, President Gloucester County NAACP and 2nd Vice President NAACP New Jersey State Conference.