What is the relevance of this ancient African Christianity? What is the relevance of Orthodox Christianity? I tell you the relevance is the future of our community and nothing short …
Subdeacon Paul Abernathy
Broken souls need a home to come to. Those souls are not finding a suitable home in the poor theologies of empty promises and prosperity doctrines. They need a home that will teach them repentance, joyful sorrow, patience, and love. The Orthodox Church and the lives of the African (and all other) saints provide a place where souls can be healed and wrong directions can be turned around. When African-Americas are exposed to the stories of people like Athanasius the Great, Mary of Egypt, and Moses the Black, we learn that through the struggle there is joy and salvation. By the practices of aestheticism, prayer, and venerating icons we are brought into a deeper understanding of God and His love for us. People need more than just promises of wealth, or to simply say “my bad” when found in sin. People need the full spectrum of faith found in the Orthodox Church. And as much of Orthodoxy is rooted in Africa, the Church is very relevant to the lives of Black America.
To bring the African roots of Orthodoxy to the broken souls, it takes more than mere words. Orthodox Christians must go into the communities and live their faith alongside people who are hurting. When people see us as living examples of the Gospel, they will be willing to fast, pray, and seek the presence of the Holy Trinity daily. If we are unwilling to go forth and spread the ancient Christian faith, we are denying not only heritage and culture to our people, we are denying them salvation leaving them vulnerable to the poor theologies that are ruining our communities.
I do apologize for not having a full video of the address from Subdeacon Paul Abernathy (This is a brief video of his message). I hope to have a link to his message soon. But, for those who were there to hear Paul’s wisdom and passion on the relevance of rediscovering the African roots of Christianity, we clearly received the call that people need to see real faith from Orthodox believers today if we are going to share the lessons of truth from the saints of old.
The need for real faith in reaching out to African-Americans was reflected well in the entire program from the singing of the familiar Negro Spiritual “Wade In The Water,” to the presentation of Ethiopian Orthodoxy By Meron Lulseged, to the books and other gifts offered by Susan Fury. Real faith goes with you and we thank Brandon Bailey for making the journey with Subdeacon Paul. Real faith nourishes, and we thank Sarah Motley and Johanna Hargreaves for preparing the evening meal. A special thanks to the real hospitality of Fr. James Purdie and the St. Basil the Great Antiochian Orthodox Church for opening our doors even as we are in the midst of major building renovation. And thanks to all who braved the highways and rain to be with us, especially those from the Baptist and Church of God in Christ denominations. With Subdeacon Paul’s fiery message, the VA Chapter is inspired to grow in grace inwardly and to evangelize to African-Americans all all who are broken (as all humanity is broken) and need to hear the message of salvation through the Orthodoxy Church.