Everything I Know About Racism I Learned From the Church

Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany view towar...
Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note: This original article appears here: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/169959-christena-cleveland-know-about-racism-i-learned-from-the-church.html?p=1

Note that I’m including this article on my blog for conversation and dialogue only. I’m not one to judge someones experience or suggest that this article represents the experiences of all. This is for all of us to examine ourselves as well as our role in God’s overall plan.
Editor’s Note: The author’s experiences within the church can be painful and difficult to read about. However, we believe these are reflections the Church needs to hear. Please take time to read and process the author’s story. Before reacting too quickly, we encourage you to listen and reflect upon the implications this might have for your ministry context.Every summer, my mom would sign us up for vacation bible school (VBS) programs at local churches so we could experience God in diverse settings. The summer I turned six, we attended VBS at an all-white church in a neighboring city. During recess, my brother and I were so engrossed in our tetherball game that we didn’t hear the teacher calling us to return to the classroom.

Exasperated, she yelled at the top of her lungs, “Get in here, n*ggers!!”

Being six and all, I had no idea what the word n*gger meant; I just knew that it referred to me and that it was negative.

I ducked my head in shame and ran toward the classroom. The teacher’s words violently contradicted the VBS theme “God loves all the children in the world,” and made me question whether God’s love was meant for me too.

The church taught me that God’s love is only for the white kids.

When I Learned that All Black People Rap.

Many people recall junior high as a dark and stormy stage in their identity development timeline. But as one of two black girls in my class at my Christian school, I had the unenviable task of figuring out who I was and where I belonged while surrounded by a sea of white classmates who only interacted with me long enough to ask to touch my hair.

Feeling different and excluded, I signed up for choir class, hoping to find a place to belong.

That year, the Christmas musical script unironically called for a “Rapping Angel” who rapped Luke 2:14.

Without holding auditions for the part, our choir director (with obvious support from my classmates) cast me as the rapping angel, saying, “You can do it, right Christena?”

Nope, I couldn’t.

MC Hammer, I was not.

But since I did not fit in with my classmates, I was desperate to prove that I belonged to another relevant social group—namely, black people. So I went along with our director’s decision and now have the distinction of being the most woefully miscast Rapping Angel in the history of cheesy Christmas musicals.

The church taught me that I belong nowhere—not even in the tiny stereotypical box that they tried to stuff me into.

Continue reading “Everything I Know About Racism I Learned From the Church”

Why Pastor G Started Success/Life Coaching

John E. Girton, Jr., speaking
John E. Girton, Jr., speaking at an IHMFC, Inc. event

It’s been interesting for me to hear people ask me what I’m doing now. I get that question almost two to three times a week. People will stop me on the street, email me, hit me up on Facebook and even old clients are interested in knowing what I’ve been up to lately. I’m sure most of them have been wondering how I’ve been able to survive without their $15 branding packages, free consultation and $5 WordPress CMS website designs I’ve provided them over the past four years. I can imagine some are thinking it will only be a matter of time before I have to go back to giving my services away to pay a couple of bills.

Well, after watching my accounts receivable skyrocket, I decided to let over twenty of my clients go and simplify my business to include what people really valued from my time, effort and energy. Here’s how I came to this conclusion. I’ve been watching my recommendations on LinkedIn and noticed something interesting. I noticed what I was selling didn’t match what people wanted of value from me. I was selling graphic design and marketing services. But, honestly that’s not what people really wanted from me.

It was like a bolder knocking me over. I thought about it and I pondered what I experienced during almost every client consultation. In the midst of designing a logo, I spent more time sharing my experiences in business to motivate my clients. I used my real world experiences to guide them while at the same time creating their website. I began to consider that maybe the struggle I was experiencing had less to do with the market and more to do with what I was marketing. So, I considered what my life might be like if I spent my time doing for others what they really wanted me to do for them. I considered what my life might look like if I were doing what I loved, what came natural and what others loved for me to do. My next step was to make a decision to change.

So, that’s what I did. Instead of pushing marketing services that were starving my bottom line, I took a leap of faith, I took a risk and began the transition of pushing the services that gave me the most joy and fulfillment…motivational speaking and success coaching. That’s were I find my “sweet spot!” That’s where I excel! That’s where my passion and my purpose come together. It doesn’t matter if I’m one-on-one or in front of a group, speaking and motivating others works for me and works for those who I’ve been called to serve.

Has it been all up hill? Absolutely not! I’ve been working the switch for about three months now. It took at least a month and a half to get rid of clients who weren’t paying and were dragging me into the red. It took a few more weeks to update the johngirtonspeaks.com website and to order new business cards. And there are still weeks that I have no idea how I’m going to earn a living. But, the good news is that I love getting up everyday because before I go to bed I know I will have empowered someone. Unlike a few months before, I now know that what I have to offer is what others really want from me. They value my perspective, my expertise and my years of collective entrepreneurial wisdom. And that’s what I’m committed to providing because now my success is my clients success.

Program aims to alleviate the fear of fatherhood

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013 2:48 pm | Updated: 2:56 pm, Fri Sep 6, 2013.
By Donald Tretler

For many years I was very unsure about whether I wanted to be somebody’s dad. It seemed like a huge responsibility, having another human being dependent on me to

8 weeks old baby
Dad’s play a signifiant role in the early life of their children

ensure their survival.Being married had responsibility, but in reality if something happened to me, I was sure my wife would be perfectly capable of fending for herself out in the world. Not true for a child, unless you believe those stories of babies being raised by wolves or gorillas or dolphins.

If I was going to enter into parenthood, I would need to be prepared. But, outside of painting the extra bedroom and saving money, what was I supposed to be doing?

Many men are unsure how their lives will change once they take the giant step to become fathers. In many ways we are entering uncharted territory. Many of us have not had a whole lot of “hands-on” experience with the tiniest members of our own species.

We do not often take advantage of the generous offers from new parents, family members or friends to hold the baby. I’m not exactly sure what it is we are worried about.

Are we worried that our reflexes are not quick enough to keep the precious bundle safe? Is it that it does not appear “manly” to exhibit such tender, nurturing behavior as gently cradling a totally vulnerable little creature? After all, how many pictures do we see of men holding kittens?

I certainly have no explanation why we are so reluctant. I myself only rarely took advantage of holding my nieces and nephews when they were really small. Although, I do remember once spending several hours pinned to the sofa with my infant nephew sleeping on my chest, because I was too afraid to lay him down out of my sight.

This is not to talk of the intense anxiety the thought of changing a diaper brings. I do not know many guys who actually step up and volunteer to change another person’s baby. So, as a result, we do not wind up with much practice before we are expected to perform the surgery-like procedure on our own infants.

Many fathers-to-be envision Mom will be mainly be taking care of this chore once baby is born. But, as we soon find out, we find ourselves in situations where we are the one with baby when the need arises.

Moms will let us get away with handing off the baby a couple times before they kindly suggest, “Why don’t you do this yourself?” Ok, we are men, we can handle it and after a few fumbly attempts we start to get the hang of it. And not long after, we develop a certain expertise.

One fellow dad bragged to me, not long after the birth of our children just a few days apart, that he could change a diaper in less than two minutes.

So, where does a father-to-be go in order to gain valuable experience before his eventual trial by fire? Early Education Services of Windham County in Brattleboro offers a “Training Camp for New Dads” through its Fatherhood Program.

Every three months or so, myself − the fatherhood services coordinator − and retired pediatrician Bob Nassau facilitate this four-hour workshop at the Elmer Barrett III Fatherhood Center, 122 Birge St. This fun-filled learning opportunity features appearances by real live babies, accompanied by veteran dads of previous training camps. Space is limited, so prior notice is required.

For more information on getting into shape to be an excellent dad, call 802-254-3742, extension 135, or email Donald_tretler@wsesu.org.

Is Hating Black People Justified?

Central Canal and Indianapolis skyline
Central Canal and Indianapolis skyline (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Indiana State Capitol at the end of Market St,...
Indiana State Capitol at the end of Market St, Indianapolis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s an email Pastor G received in response to our Youth Violence Prevention Strategic Planning Initiative designed to prevent youth violence and increase opportunity for young people in Indianapolis.


“This is the dumbest thing I have ever seen. And I have seen a lot of stupidity coming from the poverty pimps in the racist black hustle industry. We already know what the problem is…black illegitimacy, lower IQ and ability, anti-intellectualism, impulse control, low future time orientation, a failed black culture, and shitty black parenting. Let’s finally cut our losses and end the government daddy gravy train of EBT/SNAP/WIC and see how hard they will work once they get hungry. I WANT MY MONEY BACK! Eliminate their Section-8, AFDC, TANF, cash assistance, heat assistance, welfare fraud scams, government jobs, free school lunch, SSI, CHIP, Medicaid, Obamabucks, Obamaphone, slavery reparations, Pigford scams, disability and free college tuition and see how quickly these lazy punks learn to obey laws, pay attention in class, use birth control, and become civilized humans. Oh, and don’t forget to strengthen the Second Amendment laws, so the rest of us law-abiding tax payers can defend ourmselves when they start rioting (again). Please reconsider this nonsense. It makes you look stupid. We owe black people NOTHING. You marginalize yourselves. ”


I’d love to know your thoughts on this response.

Activating God’s Favor

There’s a unquestionable truth that if you are a Christian and if you are a non-Christian, a war between two selves is constantly going on inside of you. It’s a battle between favor and famine. It’s a battle between blessings and burdens. It’s a battle between freedom and frustration. It’s a battle between worship and worry.

Now, there are those in the world who see no problem with this daily struggle. These are people who can say they love you and then turn around and abuse you physically and mentally. These are people who can smile in your face and then as soon as you turn around, they will stab you in the back. These are people who will befriend you today and then spread your business tomorrow. And what makes these folk unique is that they see nothing wrong with their behavior.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde po...But for the rest of us, this war that rages between your Dr. Jekyll and your Mr. Hyde presents a problem. Yes, you know the 1920 silent film that presents a good, upstanding, community minded, gifted and educated man, who has to wrestle with the good he does during the day and the terror he causes during the night. Dr. Jekyll comes to the conclusion that the only way to get rid of what he does at night is to get rid of who he is. And in a real sense that’s where many of you are today. You want to be free from the war. You want peace from the pain you’ve caused. You want a break from the madness. You want to own what you do that blesses others and disown the things you do that bring suffering.

Well, God has a remedy for your condition. God has a prescription for what ails you. In other words, God’s favor can free you. God’s favor can rescue you from yourself. But you can’t access the favor of God and you can’t live under the influence of God’s favor if you’re not prepared to do what God requires to activate what comes automatically. http://ow.ly/i/O5Ei