Black Church Leaders Rally Minneapolis Community Against Violence

CARLOS GONZALEZ – STAR TRIBUNE Bishop DL Bryant-Kemp of the New Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Spence of the New Hope Baptist Church and Pastor Melvin Miller at Progressive Baptist Church enjoyed a lighthearted moment during a service at the Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis.
CARLOS GONZALEZ – STAR TRIBUNE
Bishop DL Bryant-Kemp of the New Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Spence of the New Hope Baptist Church and Pastor Melvin Miller at Progressive Baptist Church enjoyed a lighthearted moment during a service at the Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis.

It was loud, ear-splittingly loud at times.

But the voices raised Tuesday night at Shiloh Temple International Ministries weren’t raised in anger or in protest. They were singing, stomping, preaching and shouting praises to the Lord and blessings to a community caught in a cycle of anger and fear after the police shootings of black men in Falcon Heights and Baton Rouge, La., and the slayings of police officers in Dallas and Louisiana.

The Village Unity Service included pastors, reverends and bishops from emerging and established ministries in Minneapolis and St. Paul. About 400 people, young and old, many with small children, almost filled the auditorium at Shiloh Temple on West Broadway in north Minneapolis for the two-hour service.

“If you step back, this is a season in which there is spiritual warfare,” the Rev. Alfred Babington-Johnson, president and CEO of the Stairstep Foundation, said before the service.

“If you give evil room, it takes over,” he said. “There has to be, at some point, a stand-up and fight for God.”

As the service — a de facto revival meeting — began and the choir sang, Babington-Johnson said, “Let the praises grow. Let the healing begin. Hallelujah!”

Music was an integral part of the service, with the choir singing with some of the eight to 10 speakers and inciting the audience to join in on some choruses.

“Bless us from the east, Lord; bless us from the west, Lord; bless us from the north, Lord, bless us from the south, Lord,” Bishop Richard D. Howell Jr., shouted to the crowd. “Let the devil know he cannot and will not win!”

Although there were few direct references to the death of Philando Castile at the hands of a St. Anthony police officer on July 6 and none to the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge a week earlier, it was clear that these and other tragedies were the impetus and motivation for many to be at Shiloh Temple.

“It’s about coming together,” Babington-Johnson said. “It’s about unity.”

Pastor Dee McIntosh of Lighthouse MPLS shouted, “Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus! How amazing is it that we can be unified at this time … I want us to send up a shout, that a church on the North Side knows the Father has sent the Son!”

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Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Pat Pheifer