As of today, we are three days away from the beginning of the Lenten season. Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of satan and preparing to begin his ministry. This is also when people choose to give up something; however, I want to encourage us to add something to your life/day on a spiritual level during the next forty days. Add time for daily prayer, Bible study or time alone with God. Make time to visit or call a friend or church member who might be encouraged by your presence or call.
We are also eleven days into Black History Month! OUR history is worthy of being celebrated every day and February is a wonderful time to remember the accomplishments of African Americans and people from the African diaspora (the dispersion of a people from their original homeland) for ALL the contributions they’ve made not only to this country but the world.
America is a great country…I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! However, this country has an ugly history of racism and social and civil injustice against people who are not of European descent. First Native Americans, then Blacks who were forcibly brought here as chattel slaves. Chattel slavery was the enslaving of a person forever! Their children and their children’s children were automatically enslaved. Chattel slaves were only viewed and treated as property; they could be brought, sold, given and even inherited! They had no rights as human beings…as children created in God’s image and loved by God.
The AME Church exists because the ministerial efforts of Richard Allen and Absalom Jones were so successful that the Black membership at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church grew tenfold and the white members of the congregation did not welcome this growth and in November 1786, white ushers attempted to remove all Blacks from the floor of the sanctuary and these brothers and sisters of God were having none of it! Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and other Blacks left the church never to return and founded the Free African Society in 1787. From this society the foundations of the AME Church (Allen) and African Episcopal Churches (Jones) came into being.
I invite you to check out these websites for great Black History facts. These are just the tip of the iceberg to obtain information from, but it’s a good start:
These are wonderful online resources to get news and other information that are meaningful and relevant to the Black community! We must become more engaged in the political process, we must vote and participate in political activities within our communities to ensure our issues are raised, our voices heard, and change comes that will benefit us, our children and our children’s children!
Have a blessed week family!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
St Peter’s, I believe we are indeed on the cusp of God doing some wonderful things for our community and our mission as a church. Why do I say this? Because there seems to be a building of tension and challenges within our community of faith and as I have been talking to some members over the past several weeks, it was revealed to me that this kind of thing…this kind of drama and confusion and even tension comes when the devil is trying to take us off course because we are getting close to a period of growth and experiencing God in new and deeper ways!
I continue to hear that there is a new energy in our church, a renewed spirit and that’s a wonderful thing and indeed good news! I am also aware that when we are open to God moving and we are seeking to be the people and church God desires us to be, there is a spirit that is not at all happy and that’s the advisory…satan! I think (this may not be theologically correct however), that satan…the enemy…the advisory knows when God is about to bless and do something wonderful in our lives and therefore tries his hardest to stir up mess, cause confusion, create drama, doubt and strife (just to name a few) but it’s when we see these warning signs of confusion, unnecessary drama, etc. that we have to stop and ask ourselves “what’s going on here and why?” We then must go to God and ask God to show us the root of this confusion in our lives and I believe that God will!
Sometimes, I think we become fearful and even doubtful of the “new thing” God is about to do in our lives, within our families, etc. and then we create opportunity for satan to enter the picture and put doubt in our minds that we are not worthy of this wonderful thing God has promised us; or that we can’t really believe God is going to come through for us. When this happens, the devil is working overtime to bring confusion and doubt into our lives! He will start making you think God’s not going to provide for you. God is not going to make a way for you. The devil wants you to doubt, but you must trust in the Lord. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
I have shared with you all in past weeks some of the challenges I faced on this journey into full-time ministry and I came to realize during those difficult trials and stressful times, that the devil was truly trying to take me off course. He was determined to cause me to doubt and question God’s faithfulness and turn and run away from the very thing God was calling me to do. I did stay the course, but I had times of doubt, tears and worry, but because I had experienced God’s faithfulness in the past, I knew (once I got over those pity parties) that God would be just as faithful as before and I also recognized that I had to quiet the devil’s voice in my mind and heart and that was done by going deeper into scripture, being more intentional in my times of devotion and praise and surrounding myself with people who encouraged me and prayed for me as I was praying for myself! This doesn’t mean the devil backed off right away, but after while there simply was no room for both the devil and God, so the devil had no choice but to flee.
Things are changing, and this change is good! It is my most sincere desire and prayer that when we see stress or adversity coming up within our community, our ministries, our times of devotion and study that we will ask God to come in and that we’ll look internally to ensure that the devil is not using us to be the source of the confusion within our families, on our jobs or within the church. James 4:7 instructs us to submit ourselves to God first. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Have a blessed week family!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Pastor’s Notes – Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018
Sometimes, I struggle with what I’m going to write about each week. I want this space to be meaningful to both me to write it, and to you all who read it!
It’s truly amazing when I have moments of “blankness” on what to write about; that when I least expect it, God will give me a thought or theme to write about and the words seem to flow faster than I can write them. My thoughts this week are on love!
There are three types of love that are referenced in scripture: Eros which is a love of passion or physical love. Philo which is described as affection, fondness or liking. The final type is Agape love. This is the type of love God has for us and the type of love we should all strive to have towards one another; but I will acknowledge that sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Today, we find ourselves in the midst of more hate than love in this country. Hate coming from the President directed towards minorities, Africans, Haitians and “Dreamers”, (those youth and young adults brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents who came to America with a hope and dream to give their children a better life and greater opportunity for education and a career). When ‘#45’ spoke with such distain for these people I thought of John 1:46 “Can anything good come from Nazareth? Absolutely…come and see!!”
We must be careful to not remain silent to hate and lies and we must hold politicians accountable who profess to be Christians but go against the very teachings and principles of Christ through their actions, votes, political positions and silence.
The Bible is full of scriptures that instruct us to love our neighbors, to love those who are foreigners in our land and to love others as we love ourselves. Some of these scriptures are: Deuteronomy 10:19, Leviticus 19:34, Matthew 5: 43, 44 and 46, Mark 12:31 & 33, Luke 6:27, 32 and 35, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:8, Galatians 5:14 and James 2:8.
I acknowledge it’s hard to love those who undervalue us and our humanity; yet, we are required by God to do so even when that seems like an impossible task most of the time. There’s nothing in scripture that says we must agree with or even like ‘#45’ let alone those who hurt or sin against us; however, we are required to love and perhaps it’s the effort we are being called to make…to love, that is the important thing. I must remind myself (often) that even ‘#45’ is a child of God and because of that he is deserving of the love of God and me.
The Struggle to Love Everyone is Real, but with God it can be achieved!
Be a blessing…even when it’s hard!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Pastor’s Notes – Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018
In our Wednesday afternoon Bible Study, we are on a 13-week journey into “Overcoming; Rising Above Life’s Toughest Problems.” I am truly excited about this Bible study and the members who have attended have stated the same and I look forward to what God will do through this series and future studies!
I chose this series as our first course of study because I felt it would be helpful to all of us as we journey into 2018 and work (I pray) to overcome the challenges that may have held us captive in 2017 and face those challenges still trying to overwhelm us and make us feel that this year won’t be any better.
My “Pastor” Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas said something in a sermon nearly 20 years ago that has stuck with me “it’s not what happens to us that matters; it’s how we handle what happens to us.” This quote has been a wonderful reminder to me that stuff will happen in life that will often nearly take us out and its human nature to become upset, sad and even angry as we deal with these valley experiences; but the key (I believe) is to NOT stay angry, but to pick ourselves up and face each challenge head on knowing that when fervently we pray and seek God’s guidance and direction on how to tackle, address, face and ultimately overcome each challenge, God will always give us what we need to endure.
The other important challenge for all of us is to not allow these valley experiences to keep us from finding God’s presence in the storms of life – that will surely come. Sometimes, just changing our attitude about the storms we are facing can be the first step in helping us identify ways to overcome them!
On a separate note, I want to thank everyone who attended our second quarterly conference for this church year. Elder Smith was 100% correct when she spoke to the new spirit in our church and I want to echo her “thanks” for the progress we are making in chipping away at the financial debts we have. Slow and steady truly will win the race and I know that God has been with us and will continue to be with us.
Finally, let’s continue to pray for all our members who are on our prayer list and requesting prayer! Please remember Gaye Adams Massey and her family who celebrated the life of her beloved father Bishop John Hurst Adams yesterday (Jan. 20th); and let’s also pray for Thomas Brown the brother and uncle of Sister Shirley and Deanna Callender who is in the hospital as well as Shirley’s sister Gloria.
Blessings to each of you in the week ahead!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Pastor’s Notes – Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018
Tomorrow (January 15) we celebrate the birthday of one of America’s Greatest Hero’s – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of the things I appreciate about Dr. King is that he struggled with his call to be the face/voice of a movement that was determined to change the course of race relations in our country and begin the long road (cause we’re still not there; but we are a bit closer) for America to see the God in all of humanity – especially those of us with brown and black skin. King didn’t eagerly embrace this assignment (call), but recognized that someone had to be the front person and (as I’ve said before) he knew that everyone can’t be behind the scenes; someone had to be out front; even if it meant facing a certain amount of pain, hardship and abuse from some within his own community and especially from those in the dominant culture that didn’t want to acknowledge or accept the humanity of Blacks in a country that was suppose to be founded on the principles of Jesus Christ and equality for all people!
Martin Luther King, Jr. also reminds me of Samuel (the subject of my sermon today) who was called by God to give a dire message to Eli (his mentor) from God because Eli had allowed his sons to completely disrespect God and the sovereignty of God’s Holy Temple. For Samuel, there was no way of getting out of delivering this bad new; the message had to be given and it didn’t matter if the hearer (Eli) liked it or not.
Sometimes, God will put us in situations where we must take a stand for something – a stand against injustice, a stand to end sexual assault and misconduct. Sometimes we need to take a stand to call out friends who are homophobic or who bully a person because of their size, skin color or even where they live.
Martin Luther King, Jr. took a stand. He didn’t sit by silently and wait for someone else to speak up, he spoke up and out and it cost him his life. With the various forms of protest taking place in America these days by women, men and youth who are saying “Black Lives Matter,” “Time’s UP” and #MeToo, people are using their voice to challenge the normative behavior of men who abuse their power and a culture that’s for too long chosen to look the other way. There’s a quote by Dr. King that I think sums all of this up: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter!”
As we celebrate the life and ministry of this GREAT AMERICAN, I want to ask you – what will you stand up for and/or speak out against? Even if the message you deliver or the stance you take is unpopular and costs you something; will you have the boldness of Samuel and Martin Luther King, Jr to speak up and out or will you simply sit back and wait for someone else to do what YOU have the power to do?
Be a Difference and a Blessing to someone this week!
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Happy New Year St. Peter’s!!
We are blessed to celebrate a new year and have another opportunity to begin anew! I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV): “The steadfast LOVE of the Lord never ceases; God’s mercies never come to an end; they are NEW every morning; GREAT is God’s faithfulness!” This verse always reminds me that each day (and year) we have another chance to experience God’s love and mercies and to extend that same love and grace to one another.
As we enter 2018, it’s the perfect time to make SPIRITUAL resolutions – to create time (each day) for personal prayer and scripture reading, commit to attend one of our two weekly Bible studies (in person or via the conference bridge) or Sunday School, join one of our prayer calls, become active in a ministry (or develop a new one), commit to regularly visit or reach out (via phone calls and cards) to one of our shut-in members, commit to tithing (you knew that was coming)…in other words be more committed to spending time with God and living life as Christ has instructed us.
I am excited about all we have planned for this year and I believe that God has ordained every activity planned and that we will grow as a congregation and get outside the walls of our beautiful church and engage the community and especially our neighbors! We certainly have challenges to overcome, but I am claiming God’s faithfulness in those matters too as long as we continue to be good stewards of the resources God provides for us.
I’m not big on making personal resolutions, but I am going to commit to maintaining my early morning devotions and making time for self care (which is important) and getting in some golf…once this winter ends!
Finally, let’s make time to enjoy the blessings God has given us and let’s ensure we let those we love know how much we value and appreciate their presence in our lives and make time to care for ourselves.
Blessings for a Joyous 2018,
Pastor Carla Mitchell
Rev. Carla Mitchell, Pastor
Rev. Stacy Smith, Presiding Elder
The Rt. Rev. John Franklin White, Presiding Bishop
African Methodist Episcopal Church
401 E. 41st Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55409
St. Peter's Office Hours
Tuesday - Thursday 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday - 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM