Saturday, June 25, 2011
The Church of Jeremiah Wright In Chicago
I've been trying to visit famous churches along the way on this trip. Sometimes it hasn't worked out to where I've been at a certain place on a Sunday morning. But when in Chicago....there was but one church I could think of that would make for an awesome story....and that was Trinity United Church.
Now, if you are unfamiliar with this church, or unfamiliar with Jeremiah Wright, he was President Barrack Obama's preacher for nearly 20 years. He was the one who said "Not God Bless America...but God **** America!!" Ring a bell? Anyway, this is an all black church and you can imagine that I stuck out like a sore thumb. Literally, except for the the lone white guy in the chorus, I was the only white guy in the building which seated probably between 500-1000 people. Trust me, I checked and looked all around.
A lady at the door greeted me and after taking a few steps decided to ask me if I preferred to sit in the front or the back....it didn't take me much hesitation to request a back seat since I felt incredibly awkward. She found a seat for me in between of these two elderly gentleladies (okay the one to my left was probably around 40 somethingish). Ella, the elderly lady to my right was incredibly curious. It didn't take her long before she warmed up to my Hensley charm and finally asked "So, what made you want to come to a BLACK church?" (there was emphasis in her voice when she said "black"). Sitting beside these two ladies was a blessing and they made me feel at home. During the meet and greets, I had a lot of people come up and speak to me and I told them about the trip and how I'm trying to visit famous churches along the way and that Fox News had put theirs "on the map", to which they responded with laughter. There were a few awkward moments, like when the preacher (Rev. Otis...Rev. Wright is no longer head Rev but is now just an Honorary Pastor) asked all the men in the congregation to stand up...to which I did, and said how we have to make the youth of this area proud to be black by being black role models. I could hear the two ladies giggling like school girls.
The service itself was relatively fine. There was an unnecessary emphasis on race (advertising to get your free "black pride" t-shirts after the service) but in a way, I kind of understand the context. They are trying to inspire the youth in their area to live as Godly men, and they want these youths to have pride in themselves, so I understand where they were coming from since it is a bad crime area. The sermon itself was about Cain, but thats really all I can remember from it. Other than when the preacher said "Every once in a while it's okay to raise a little Cain!" Meaning, to raise and guide a bad youth to a better life. While it was a bit edgy, the church was not nearly as bad as the media made it out to be, it was as bad as all the hype but at the same time I think a church such as Trinity needs to be a little more careful with what they preach and they need to be more Christ centered, rather than race centered.
For years I've wanted to visit a black church, for the experience, as well as a Mosque, so I can at least mark off one of these for now....