What is Black Church Weekly?
The Black Church Weekly is a publication by the team at Values Partnerships, a social impact firm focused on communities of faith and communities of color. We're delighted to bring you news and views related to the Black church and opportunities to engage on policy, entertainment, and culture each week! The Black Church Weekly is edited by Rev. Kip Banks, senior consultant with Values Partnerships, former General Secretary of the Progressive National Convention and pastor of East Washington Heights Baptist Church in Washington, DC. Its publisher is Joshua DuBois, former faith-based advisor to President Barack Obama.
Dr. Ambrose Carroll serves as the Senior Pastor of the Church by The Side of The Road in Berkeley, CA, and is the CEO of Green The Church, which is the largest repository and catalyst for environmental and sustainability practices of the black church in the world.
An Interview with Dr. Ambrose Carrol on the Green the Church Movement
1. Tell me About the Green the Church Movement?
As the son of a Baptist preacher of the Civil Rights Movement, I wondered for many years what the big tent movement of our day would be. In 2009, as I read The Green Collar Economy and worked with Van Jones as a Green For All Fellow, I realized one of my contempt had defined the critical cause for the new century. The next year, in 2010, I founded Green The Church (GTC) to be a repository and catalyst for the intersection of the Black Church and the Environmental and Sustainability Movement. There is an erroneous and persistent notion that the Black Church is not interested in the Environment. With so many issues that we must contend with, in our communities, the idea that we are responsible for the planet itself may feel like too much to ask. But I believe we only need to be reminded that the Black Church has always been an environmental institution, a temple of conservation. Historically, the Farmer and the Preacher were the same person in many communities! Black communities suffer disproportionate impacts of climate change, including disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding. GTC helps synthesize understanding of how Black spirituality, history, and local concerns can connect Black churchgoers to the larger environmental movement to the benefit of both local communities and the broader ecosystem. The 3 Pillars of Green The Church organization are: 1) Amplify Green Theology; 2) Promote Sustainable Practices; and 3) Build Power for Political and Economic Change. Through our Monthly E-Newsletter, GTC Revival, we tell stories where the Black Church nationally and internationally are involved in sustainability efforts. More than 1,000 congregations and pastors have either attended our annual Green The Church Summits, which are held in different cities around the country from year to year, or have participated in our many webinars and programs.
2. What should Black Churches Be Doing in Honor of Earth Day?
In honor of Earth Day, we believe that Black Churches should be preaching Environmentally conscious sermons and sharing messages about how to live sustainably. Stewardship itself is an Environmental message because what we are talking about is being responsible for the things of God and not turning that responsibility over to an oppressive majority culture. While the term “Environmentalist” may not resonate for some, we in the Black Church tradition have always been Revivalist. We believe that anything old, stale, inactive, or unused can be made brand new again by the Power of God. In short, we should do ministry as we have always done and take the time to draw a line from that work to the ministry of stewardship of the land and of one another. During Earth Day, and in fact, what we now call Earth Month, we should engage our youth and adults in spring cleaning projects to help renew the community. This is also a great time to start a community garden project and to take inventory of the general physical health of the congregation. This year, community vaccination efforts are a perfect Earth Day project.
3. What Gives You Hope About the Black Church?
What gives me hope is our eternal spirit and ancient past. What we do as a “Black Church” is in large part what we have been doing for thousands of years. Our movement, our song, our tone, and tenor comes from places deep within us, from regions that we don’t remember, handed down to us from those with names that we cannot recall. The ITC (Interdenominational Theological Center) taught us that we took Western Religion and baptized it African Traditional Religion and made it our own. I am proud of our resilient nature and the wisdom that allowed our church to have a subversive nature during years of oppression so that in the fulfillment of God’s own time, it would experience a rebirth, a regeneration, a renewal!
4. What Concerns/Troubles You About the Black Church?
My chief concern is expressed in the title of a book penned by Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, The Divided Mind of The Black Church. He talks about the fact that many of the theological and philosophical conversations that are held in our Seminaries are not often struggled with or engaged in many of our urban, rural, and even suburban congregations. I am concerned that what was meant to be subversive and hidden from the oppressors has been forgotten by the rank and file in our community. I am deeply concerned that instead of fighting against supremacy and greedy forms of capitalism that many, even in the church, are trying to rather find a comfortable place in the hierarchy of white supremacy. I am concerned that many of us have forgotten that we are our brothers' keepers.
5. How can Churches Get Involved with the Green the Church movement?
1. Check us out at www.greenthechurch.org and opt-in to receive our monthly newsletter featuring Black church pastors, congregations, and seminary professors, and Black environmentalists and entrepreneurs.
2. Join as an individual member. We have one-time or monthly memberships as low as $10.00.
3. Join as an Ambassador or Associate Congregation and learn how to fully “Green” your church, lowering energy bills and fighting for environmental and social justice with others in your community.
4. Check out a monthly webinar like the one coming up this week, entitled “The Black Church & The Green New Deal” Building Efficiency & Renewable Energy on Thursday, April 15, 2021, 1:00 PM EDT. We will introduce attendees to experts advocating for the Black Church to support a Green New Deal, highlighting African American churches that have already implemented sustainable practices, and sharing how these solutions can benefit your congregations and communities.
5. Email us for an invitation to enroll in and take our new online course, "The Black Church & The Environmental Age."