Reformation Profiles of African Americans February 2, 2017

2. February 2017 11:58 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Reformation Profiles 

Reformation Profiles of African Americans February 2, 2017

The Minister of Justice Francis J. Grimke' October 4, 1850 - November 11, 1937

Francis J. Grimké was born on a rice plantation near Charleston, SC known as the Cane Acres. His mother's name was Nancy Weston, a black slave; his father was the slave master. Francis was born in slavery and eventually ran away and joined the Confederate Army until emancipation. Francis then rejoined with family and that's where his life of ministry really begins. 

Francis Grimké began his quest in the study of law at Lincoln where he graduated at the head of his undergraduate class in 1870, he then went on to attend Howard University in 1874. However he then begin to realize his call from God to the ministry and re-enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary where he graduated in 1878. Grimké began ministering at the 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. & would marry Charlotte L. Forten a Philadelphia native. Francis and Charlotte had only one child, Theodora Cornelia, that died in infancy. From 1885 to 1889, Grimké served the Laura Street Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida. However Grimké then returned & remained at 15th Street Presbyterian Church until 1928.

During these fifty years God would use Francis Grimké in a mighty way. Grimké preached and taught the congregation where they would be recognized as "one of the most accomplished African-American congregations in America". Grimké preached to them and a national audience "to agitate for civil rights “until justice is done"". In many respects he was not known for his activism outside the Church yet he was personally very active. Grimké participated in the creation of organizations such as the American Negro Academy, which nurtured African-American development. 

In 1923 Grimké would create a fury of controversy. The controversy was caused by his Howard University School of Religion convocation address called, “What Is the Trouble with Christianity Today?” in this address he "denounced groups like the YMCA and the “federation of white churches” for their racist policies while challenging the sincerity of the faith of many political leaders." 

His pulpit ministry was one of rarity. "The members (of his congregation) expected and received sermons that addressed issues of faith and morals with ethical insight, literary grace, and prophetic zeal. He practiced what he preached, earning himself the sobriquet "Black Puritan.""


The Minister of Justice 

God used Grimké in a time when they needed a resilient prophet of perseverance & a builder of men and women. Here are some quotes from his sermons. 

Grimké believed in the believer having a genuine personal relationship with God. This quote comes from a follow up sermon called The Ideal Woman (Proverbs 31) Listen as he address a religious man on January 24, 1904: "And this is true of the religious man; he has a living faith in the reality of God. One of the things that particularly impress one in reading the Old Testament is the reality of God to the patriarchs and prophets. They go to Him with everything; they speak to Him as one man speaks to another. He is just as real to them as they are to each other."

Grimké preached for several weeks on the "Ideal Woman" and a woman came up to him and asked, "the woman you have been describing exist anywhere outside the Bible"? I'm sure he chuckled then gently replied to her "It may be that she does not; but I thank God that she has an existence there, at least...She is there and God has put her there, in order that all women, - single women and married women, women who are wives, and women who are mothers, might have the opportunity of looking on her; of studying her character and life. He has put her there as an ideal, as a model for them in hope that they might be inspired, stimulated by her noble example to make the effort, at least, to be like her. 

And when it came to dealing with everyday life issues Grimké remained bold as ever. 

"The Negro is an American citizen, and he never will be eliminated as a political factor with his consent. He has been terrorized and kept from the polls by bloody ruffians, but he has never felt that it was right; he has never acquiesced in it, and never will, as long as he lives. As long as there is one manly, self respecting Negro in this country, the agitation will go on, will never cease until right is triumphant. It is one thing to compel the Negro by force to stay away from the polls; it is a very different thing for the Negro himself, freely of his own accord, to relinquish his political rights. The one he may be constrained to do; the other he will not do." - November 20,1898

March 7, 1909 Grimké gave a bold sermon entitled "Equality of Right for All Citizens, Black and White, Alike" that some directly to the bitter States that were in rebellion. Grimké said, "The secession of the Southern States in 1860 was a small matter with the secession of the Union itself from the great principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, in the Golden Rule, in the Ten Commandments, in the Sermon on the Mount. Unless we hold, and hold firmly to these great fundamental principles of righteousness, of social, political, and economic wisdom, our Union, as Mr. Garrison expressed it, will be 'only a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.' If it continues to exist it will be a curse, and not a blessing."

December 24, 1918 Grimké lead God's people in rejoicing on "the aims and objectives of the recently ended World War as well as its potential impact on the darker races of the world." One particular quote stands out to me.

"Thank God, it is over; and it is meet, and proper that we should rejoice, as we have been doing. On the afternoon and evening of the clay when the announcement was officially made by the President to both houses of Congress, what a note of gladness ran all through the city. In every possible way the people sought to express their joy white and black, rich and poor, high and low all classes, conditions, races, colors, had a part, in the Jubilation. For once there was no division or separation, but all seemed to be moved by one common sentiment, as all ought to be, in all matters of public interest.  We are all American citizens, and have an equal interest in the closing of this bloody conflict."

There's SO much more to be learned from Francis J. Grimké & you can't help but be courageously emboldened to serve God in every aspect of your life but this is just a profile. I'm going to end with this quote because it is a word in season for us today. 

"It is only what is written upon the soul of man that will survive the wreck of time."


Reformation Profiles of African Americans #1 February 1, 2017

1. February 2017 17:10 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
Reformation Profiles
Reformation Profiles of African Americans #1 February 1, 2017
Reformation theology can be explained within 10 specific principles resting upon One solid foundation. 5 Sola’s & TULIP on the Sovereignty of God.
Lemuel Haynes who was he?. Haynes was probably the first African American ordained by any mainstream Protestant Church in the United States. 
Haynes, was born the abandoned child of an African father and "a white woman of respectable ancestry," on July 18, 1753 in West Hartford, Connecticut. Lemuel is not the given name by his birth parents rather his name probably comes from the man from whose home he was adopted. Born in the home of Mr. Haynes “the child took his name with that of Lemuel which in Hebrew signifies “consecrated to God.” Mr. Haynes kept Lemuel for five months then bounded him out to a Deacon by the name of David Eose, of Granville, Massachusetts, a man described as having “singular piety”.
Early Years
With only a rudimentary formal education, Haynes developed a passion for books, especially the Bible and books on theology. As an adolescent, he frequently conducted services at the town parish, sometimes reading sermons of his own. According to his biographer it was said of Haynes that he kept “the Bible, Psalter, spelling-book, and perhaps a volume or two of sermons”. Haynes stated, “I was constantly inquiring after books, especially in theology. I was greatly pleased with the writings of Watts and Doddridge, and with Young’s Night thoughts. My good master encouraged me in the matter”.
In 1774, Haynes enlisted as a "Minuteman" in the local militia/army. During this time he wrote a lengthy ballad-sermon about the April, 1775 Battle of Lexington. In the title of the poem, he refers to himself as "Lemuel a young Mollato who obtained what little knowledge he possesses, by his own Application to Letters." Although the poem emphasized the conflict between slavery and freedom, it did not directly address black African slavery directly.
But Haynes did have a very strong opinion about it. “Nearly 150 years after his death, a manuscript written by Haynes around 1776 was discovered, in which he boldly stated "That an African... has an undeniable right to his Liberty." The treatise went on to condemn slavery as sin, and pointed out the irony of slaveowners fighting for their own liberty while denying it to others.”
Haynes Into the Ministry
Haynes call to the ministry was very evident and at a Congregational meeting house at Middle Granville Haynes labored preaching the Gospel with great zeal for five years. During these five years he preached at a time of “moral darkness with intemperance, profanity and infidelity rife. Strange doctrines intruded. Vice came blodly forward, but, like a rock, the young minister stood by his Lord and Faith”.
Haynes would go on and be encouraged to go into the ministry. In 1785, Haynes was officially ordained as a Congregational minister. Haynes served as pastor on three occasion after his ordination. “The first was with an all-white congregation in Torrington, Connecticut, where he left after two years due to the active prejudice of several members.”
His second call to pulpit ministry, from a mostly white church in Rutland, Vermont that had a few "poor Africans," lasted for 30 years. “During that time, Haynes developed an international reputation as a preacher and writer. In 1804, he received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Middlebury College, the first ever bestowed upon an African American. In 1801, he published a tract called "The Nature and Importance of True Republicanism..." which contained his only public statement on the subject of race or slavery.”
For the last eleven years of his life, Haynes ministered to a congregation in upstate New York. He died in 1833, at the age of 80.
One very interesting sermon preached by Haynes was called “Universal Salvation” from Genesis 3:4. This sermon was birth in controversy after Haynes was initially supposed to preach at another congregation but was asked not to come. Haynes responded very sternly and boldly. This episode in Haynes ministry is documented in a book called “An Entertaining Controversy”, by William Fay published in 1807. Let’s just say the sermon was a strong objection. Personally I found great encouragement in his bold stance.
I have been impacted by the ministry of Lemuel  Haynes who was regarded as “no ordinary man”. He had to be based on the call of God on his life. God’s hand was truly upon him.

About Edward L. Smith

My ministry philosophy would consist of these essentials—a High View of God, the absolute authority of Scripture, Expository Preaching, Sound Doctrine, Personal Holiness, and a Biblical view of spiritual authority. All ministries must be God-Honoring, Christ-Centered, & Gospel Saturated. (1 Corinthians 10:31)


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