“Dear God, here I am. Reaching for you, reaching for the dream, reaching to do your will, and walking to my destiny, so help me God.” Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

Father’s Day at West Angeles Church of God In Christ began on a somber, reflective note as Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake remembered those who were slain in the Bible study massacre at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC on June 17.

“Nine of our brothers and sisters were gunned down while they were studying the Word of God and in prayer. A young man named Dylan Roof was the perpetrator of that atrocity. Our hearts are broken and impacted by what I’m sure is a terrible loss for that church, that city, that community.

“We pray for those whose hearts are filled with hatred,” said Bishop, “and for those who are impacted by hatred.”

Bishop Blake then called for a moment of silence before leading the congregation in prayer:

Dear Lord, you’ve given our nation one of the most spectacular opportunities to be a light to the world and an example of what you can do when people love you and serve you and follow you. In so many ways we fail; we’ve not followed the pathway that you’ve set forth for us. And because of this, our nation faces turmoil and distress. You said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways and seek My face, You’ll hear from heaven and forgive our sins and heal our land.” We’ve not done what You’re calling us to do; but dear Lord we still ask that You will heal our land; that You will Bless us, that You will provide for us, that You will direct us ,so that we can become the nation that You would have us to be. And bless us as individuals, Oh God, to do everything we can to make this world Your paradise; Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.

In his sermon, Bishop Blake recalled the darkness of 1960s and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement: but he also challenged the congregation to fight for their dreams. Said Bishop, “The dream’s not over yet.”

Highlights from Sunday’s sermon are below; click HERE to see this service in its entirety at West Angeles’ Gospel On Demand:

“In the 60s, we thought that the war was over; that the battle was won. But I must say that the vast majority of the casualties in the Black Community have occurred since the Civil Rights Movement, rather than during or before.”

“Several growing dark clouds have appeared on our horizon, dark clouds like:

• Only 18% of African Americans graduate from college, compared to 30% of white people
• 25% of blacks live at or below the poverty level
• Strong family units are, in several ways, essential and vital to economic success. But black families are less likely to contain a married couple than all other groups in the United States. Only 46% of black family units contain a black married couple.
• White males live more than five years longer than black males live, and a black man is seven times more likely to go to jail than a white man.
• Black men are 25% more likely to die of cancer and twice as likely to die of diabetes. We’re still the poorest, and the sickest, and the first to die.
• For young black men, black-on-black homicide or murder is the leading cause of death.
• Black men, who represent only 14% of the population, represent 50% of the prison population.
• We account for half of all the AIDS cases, and 56% of all the AIDS deaths.
• In many black communities, the unemployment rate is as high as 50%. Half of our men, half of our women, half of our teenagers cannot find work.
• In many areas, 50% of our young people do not complete high school.

“As I travel across America, I see other racial groups doing the work that we used to do. And I know it’s not because we’ve been promoted to higher-paying white-collar jobs.”

“In Jeremiah 6:14, the Bible says, ‘They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.’ We’ve been healed only slightly, if not at all.”

“I read an article in The Wall Street Journal in which a writer, Harvard professor James Q. Wilson, without fear of contradiction, said that blacks constitute the core of American’s crime problem…I wonder where was this man…when blacks were being lynched on trees and dragged behind cars, and when we were being enslaved and repressed and oppressed as a people?” [1]

“I read another document that indicated that the decline in crime in a certain area was related to the increase in abortions years before in that same area. And I quote from the book, Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt, who’s another Harvard graduate.” [2]

“Maybe this is why Planned Parenthood, as they distribute their so-called clinics all over the nation, always put more clinics in the black community than they put anywhere else, so that black babies can be aborted at a higher rate.”

“If you want to know why some don’t give up their assault weapons…if you want to know what the whole ‘Preppers’ movement, the whole ‘Survivalist’ movement is all about: those guns are for us…they’re preparing for what they expect will be the coming race war and class war in America.”

“In many ways, we were better off before the Civil Rights Movement than we are even now…but those negative forces forced black folk to unify around the creation of institutions that enabled us to function and to survive.”

“The opposition and the persecution pushed us together, and our Black churches, insurance companies, historic black colleges and various kinds of businesses flourished, and effectively pursued the advancement of our people even under …hostile circumstances.”

“Sometimes, hard times make you better than good times do.”

“I suppose that the greatest loss of the Civil Rights Movement is the loss of collective vision” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

“Our failure to recognize our destiny and broader vision may be a reason for much of our downward despair.”

“When you lose your vision and you lose your purpose, you lose almost everything else.”

“Everywhere you find people of African descent…in that place, they exist at the bottom of all social strata.”

“When people find something worth working for, they become a people of purpose.”

“People of the Lord, we must not look only to the others, and to the outside to heal our wounds. We cannot defer action while we wait on and plead with other folk to begin loving ourselves.”

“We’ve got to love ourselves enough to take charge of our destiny.”

“We will never be the first priority of any major government on the face of the earth – even if it has a black president” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

“The only way we become first priority is when we become first priority in our own minds, and in our own hearts.”

“Visions will keep people alive. Dreams will keep people alive.”

“You will become what you envision yourself to be.”

“God has blessed you so you can be a blessing.”

“We ought to see ourselves not as those who oppress us see us. We ought to see ourselves as trained, successful beings.”

“The greatest war to be fought and won is in the minds and hearts of black people.”

“We are blessed with infinitely greater opportunities than black folks anywhere on the face of the earth.”

“We cannot be satisfied to be in a community blessed and prosperous until we reach out and bless everyone in that community.”

“We are blessed to be a blessing.”

“You made it so you can help the rest of us to make it.”

“African Americans must become for Africa what Jewish Americans have become for Israel” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

“I pray that in this season, every one of us will stand upon our watch, and that we’ll go to God and say, ‘God, I just don’t want to stand by. I want to have a positive impact on life on earth. I want to have a positive impact on my children, on my family, on my community. God, show me what you would have me to do show me what direction you would have me to go.’ Go to God for the vision.”

Click HERE to find out more about the Church Of God In Christ’s URBAN INITIATIVES.

“Jesus said to John, ‘Come up higher, and I’ll show you things that are to come.’”

“I don’t know about you, but I’m not satisfied where I am. I want to go higher than I’ve been before.”

“The Church Of God In Christ’s theme for the year 2015 is ‘Christ’s Extreme Sacrifice Calls for Our Extreme Commitment.’ God needs somebody who’s committed to Him.”

“Get ready for a change. Get ready for better things. Get ready to accomplish more. Get ready! Halleluiah!” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

“God is speaking to somebody today, ‘I know you’re tired, and I know you’re discouraged, but try again. Don’t give up! Don’t stop! Try it another way! Innovate! Create! Dream!’”

“When we obey, our God will go to work; when we serve Him, our God will go to work for us.”

“We can do this! It’s on the way! It’s going to happen!”

“Go ahead! Dream your dream, go ahead see your vision! Dream on!”

“Just because He has not done it doesn’t mean He’s not going to do it!”

“Tell two people, ‘The dream’s not over yet’!”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 6:14; Genesis 11:6; Proverbs 29:18; Genesis 37-50; Habakkuk 1-2:2; Revelation 4:1; John 21, Philippians 1:6.

There are over 27 ministries and auxiliaries here at WEST ANGELES CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST. To get involved, please  click HERE.

To find out more about Bishop Blake’s Church Of God In Christ URBAN INITIATIVES, please CLICK HERE.

[1] James Q. Wilson, “Hard Times, Fewer Crimes”. The Wall Street Journal, www.wsj.com. Updated May 28, 2011; accessed 6-22-2015 http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304066504576345553135009870
[2] Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner, “ Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything”. New York: William Morrow Paperbacks , 2009.