Updated: Sep 13
The work of a prophetic community is to locate where we are and to situate our people for what is next. St. Paul Community Baptist Church has boldly declared that we must re-imagine ministry pre-post-pandemic. We curiously raise the question about inherited beliefs, unexamined ministry practices, and collective calling and vocation. What are God and the Ancestors summoning us to at this moment? We have discerned that we must begin with our children, hence the initiative "The Year of the Child." As we consult our heritage, it is not surprising to learn that the traditional greeting of the Maasai warriors of East Africa was to always say to each other, "Kasserian Ingera," which translates to “And how are the children?” Even the warriors with no children would assess the condition of the village's children. Perhaps we, too, should invoke this practice in communal spaces. How would our consciousness be shaped if we centered our children through our engagements with each other?
The children cannot be well without communal care and concern. Dr. Robert Franklin says in Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities, "Neighborhoods become villages when all of the adults step up to show care for all the children." A holistic approach to wellness must include healthy practices such as physical fitness, mental health, and spiritual nurture. To ensure our village's and our children's wellness, Black Churches must show care for all the children. Spiritual institutions can begin by strengthening the social institutions of family and academic spaces. One way of supporting families and schools is to curate spaces for our children to encounter identity and purpose through learning their history. The text that informs this year's commemoration of the MAAFA, SBA: The Reawakening of the African Mind by Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III, is our attempt to reawaken the African mind of our children and support families and schools with resources to help our children. It is not lost on us that there have been national attempts to distort, disguise, and erase African Americans' role in American history with the goal of a sanitized singular narrative.
Our MAAFA presentation this year will aid us in centering the voices of our children. We have invited speakers who can speak to the needs of our village and children in this critical time when there is an effort to erase African contributions from the historical record. As an emblem of African-centered agency, we will add Mbongi sessions during MAAFA week to help us discern the next steps. Mbongi is an indigenous African concept from the Bakongo Bantu people meaning a place where the community gathers to solve problems. Also, in the spirit of passing on the legacy of sacred memory to the next generation at St. Paul, our children will serve as tour guides for our MAAFA museum. There will also be opportunities to process the experience communally through daily gatherings under the Healing Hut. This year's MAAFA commemoration promises to be transformational for mind, body, and soul. Please join us on this healing journey!
We do this because our Ancestors deserve it, our children are worth it, and our future requires it!
Rev. Dr. David K. Brawley
Lead Pastor, St. Paul Community Baptist Church
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All events for The 29th Commemoration of The MAAFA are free of charge. The amount you donate for General Admission is up to you!
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