Panel airs concerns, seeks solutions for community

“I didn’t know what to think or say about it,” said Matthew McNeil in describing his anger over the recent deaths of Ahmed Arbury and George Floyd, which have sparked protests nationwide.

But he added that he believes the problem is of “a spiritual matter.”

“Prayer is the answer,” he added.

McNeil’s words came as he opened a Facebook Live panel discussion on Monday titled “What Do We Have to Say About It?”, hosted by Perfecting Life Global Ministries, and focusing on appropriate reactions to the incidents.

“We have the right to be angry, but it’s what we do with that anger that matters,” said Elder Carlos Horne, co-pastor of Rivers of Overflow Ministries. “We must channel this anger in a proper way, and we need to stay in the faith and pray for wisdom.”

Rev. Michael Scott of New Direction Life Ministries agreed.

“If we allow ourselves to become enraged, it adds to the problem,” he said, “it is a mindset thing.”

Concerns over the safety of their sons and each other moved both Brian and Karissa Johnson, co-pastors of Perfecting Life Ministries, to tears.

“I was convicted about the safety of my husband and my sons, and the nation in general,” said Karissa.

Pastor David Allgood of True Worship Ministries in Biscoe quoted Ephesians 4:26 as a guideline in dealing with personal anger: “Be ye angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down on your wrath.”

Allgood observed, “The target on young black males has gotten bigger, not simply because of color, but because we wrestle not against flesh and blood…this is a spiritual attack…the devil has his knee on the neck of the church.”

“Where is the church in the midst of all this? Where are the mega-churches? Where are those big pastors that have huge congregations? What are they saying? Why aren’t we out there when they are protesting stopping them from doing what they are doing?”

“They (the mega-churches) have resources and a platform that many local churches don’t have,” said Anita Scott, co-pastor at New Directions Life Ministries. “They can do things we can’t do. So it bothers me that they have chosen not to be vocal at this time…we need one of them to say something.”

Scott said local churches should work together to cover the void left by the silence of mega-churches.

“We need to get outside our church walls, out from behind our pulpits,” she said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic has created an opportunity to do this.

In closing, Scott cited Old Testament accounts of how the fortunes of nations mirrored the hearts of their leaders, and compared it to current events.

“When the heart of the king was toward God, the nations had rest,” she said, “but the minute they got an evil king, the nations fell into unrest. What have we got right now?” she asked.

McNeil then posed a question to the entire panel: Why is there a target on the black male’s back?

Sherri Allgood, co-pastor of True Worship Ministries and the current mayor of Troy, related her experience in reading “The Willie Lynch Letters,” a speech supposedly given to slave owners in Virginia on methods to control slavery during the early 18th century.

“This was a strategy used during the time of slavery to devalue the black man by pulling him away from the family, and thus devaluing his sons,” she said, and observed that this may be unknowingly perpetrated even today.

Tamara Horne, co-pastor of Rivers of Overflow Ministries, agreed that parents must encourage their children to overcome stereotypes.

“We are raising three African-American boys, and doing our best to teach them to carry themselves and respect themselves in a society that has already marked them,” she said, “and it’s scary as a parent.”

In concluding the event, McNeil asked the panel to address what the position of the church should be in these times.

“I believe we have gotten away from the great commission,” said David Allgood. “We need to get out of the church building and into our communities.”

“The body of Christ must get involved in the community,” added Anita Scott.

“And we must follow through and be on guard,” added Michael Scott, who noted that a number of plans discussed in the community to build unity have been “derailed” by various distractions.

Teamwork and support are key, said Brian Johnson.

“We need to band together, and get behind those who are doing positive things,” he said.

The entire panel discussion can be viewed on the Perfecting Life Global Ministries Facebook page.