As a single man, new to Atlanta (I'm not going to lie to you) I went to "New Birth Baptist Church" to find a sista who was a suitable mate. I met a lot of friends during my association.
This was the "2nd church building". The one that was constructed next to the original (small church), but itself having a massive parking problem because it was still in a residential area.
With so many members New Birth was a massive social hub for young Black people in Metro Atlanta. Eddie Long and the environment was positive enough to fit my needs at the time:
PAINTED ON THE WALL: "WITHOUT VISION A PEOPLE WILL PERISH"
I never actually joined "New Birth Missionary Baptist Church". But I met a network of friends during that transitional time in my life.
As the New Birth community grew they SAVED THEIR OWN MONEY and purchased the land to build their current "mega church complex".
THE CONTRADICTIONS -
Even though the "New Birth Missionary Baptist Church" used COLLECTIVE ECONOMICS to build a self contained church with a sanctuary, a private school, a community meeting facility and a gymnasium - ALL WITH THEIR OWN MONEY - the very same voices who talk about "Black economic empowerment" ATTACKED Eddie Long and 'the Black church' for TAKING MONEY FROM BLACK PEOPLE for self-indulgent purposes (big houses, fancy cars, big salaries)
The main problem with the "New Birth Missionary Baptist Church", which proved to be a self inflicted wound is that the GOVERNANCE SYSTEM had a 'STRONG MAN/ FOUNDER' with too much power (and "Yes Men" ) who failed to TELL THE FOUNDER/PASTOR that some of the OPTICS of what he is doing personally - THREATENS THE ENTIRE ENTERPRISE.
While something is to be said for the "independent baptist church", a governing network (and to be clear we are talking about CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS and not "CHRISTIANITY - one's personal relationship via FAITH IN GOD) that would tend to break up concentrations of power so that 'The Mission" is not compromised. (As I type this I am thinking of Rev Henry Lyons whose antics inside of a governing network is refuting my argument)
I know too many "New Birthers" who "protect their pastors" more than "Jesus". When the rumors of a few years ago hit the streets they appeared to love the man's MESSAGES more than they were inclined to enforce INSTITUTIONAL INTEGRITY.
Ironically, now with the man having passed on from this Earth - they are left having to rely on the very "succession plan" that they should have in place decades ago - to PROTECT THE INSTITUTION FROM 'THE MAN'.
With all of the attacks on the so called "Black Church" and its HARVESTING MONEY out of the Black community - WE DO NOT HEAR THE SAME LINE OF THINKING about "AMERICAN CONSUMER CAPITALISTIC POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM" that dominates the pulpit of many Black churches (cough, cough, Ebenezer - which I am going to tape the MLK Day political rally tomorrow).
To his credit - though OF COURSE the majority of his 99% Black congregants were loyal Democrats - Bishop Eddie Long was not a "Civil Rights Pharisee" or "Political Operative" but indeed was aligned with Dekalb County Georgia's Democratic Party monopoly control.
The bottom line remains:
- There is no "Black Church" (Racial Church) that can retain its integrity when RACE MATTERS challenge their "Religious Calling"
Eddie Long, as a man, should be credited for having a vision of a community church and then compelling tens of thousands of people in Dekalb County over the years to assist him in moving closer to this vision.
AND THEN YOU HAVE THE REAL FRAUDS IN THE PULPIT WHO DON'T SEEM TO SUFFER THE SAME ATTACKS