On November 16, I had the great pleasure of joining the large faith community of Christ Gospel Church, a fundamentalist, Pentecostal Christian group, in southern Indiana. This community describes itself on its website as follows:
“Like most Christian denominations, it (Christ Gospel) espouses a set of doctrines known as the Apostles’ Creed. Like most Pentecostal groups, the church believes in the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, and Christ Gospel services are exuberant celebrations. People sing, shout, dance, clap, run, praise and worship God with all their being and all their might. Christ Gospel churches believe that worshiping God embraces the use of all kinds of music and instruments. At our headquarters church, one will hear drums, guitars, saxophones, violins, trumpets, piano and organ to accompany the singing of traditional hymns, country gospel music, black gospel music and even classical oratories. The church emphasizes the importance of being united in the love of Christ, regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, gender or creed. In fact, Christ Gospel churches were racially integrated long before the rest of society—not because the church was politically active, but merely because it strongly believed this was the right way for Christians to be.”
To say the music was remarkable is an understatement. The pre-service music included gospel, blues, opera and an electrifying Jazz ensemble featuring a saxophonist who before his conversion to a life of faith, once played with Elvis, Elton John and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The congregation was an amazing convergence of diverse ethnicities, genders and ages. One couldn’t help but feel swept up in something profound and moving. This congregation of hundreds of Christians is led by Rev. Berniece R. Hicks, a 92 years young preacher, teacher and author, a shining light of gracious conviction and welcome.
I was there at the suggestion of Christy Brown, who encouraged attendance not only because of the amazing service experience but she also knew that this particular Sunday’s focus was on faith and politics. Guests representing local, regional and national political offices attended the service. The keynote speaker was Baron Paul Boateng, currently a member of the House of Lords, formerly Chief Treasury Secretary and the United Kingdom’s first mixed race Cabinet Minister. Boateng also served as British High Commissioner to South Africa, 2005-2009. Baron Boateng proved to be a man of great wisdom and profound faith. In answer to the question, “what is to be done” about the critical questions facing humanity, he shares the answer which he believes is universally held by faithful people; acting justly, loving mercy and walking with humility on this earth.
It is our pleasure to offer his talk on our website so that others may enjoy his very insightful and uplifting words.
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SARAH REED HARRIS
Sarah is the managing director of the Center for Interfaith Relations. She moved to Louisville with her family in 1971 from Bogota, Colombia, where her parents Rt. Rev. David B. Reed, retired Episcopal bishop of Kentucky, and civic leader Susan Guise did missions work. A graduate of Wellesley College, Sarah received a master of public administration from the University of Louisville. Prior to joining CIR she was involved in local community development efforts concentrating in workforce and urban business development services. She has been with the Center two years and has coordinated the last three Festivals of Faiths. She and her husband, Charles Harris, have three daughters.