Black churches remain hesitant to reopen in the pandemic (BCNN1 10.10.21)

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Pastor Howard-John Wesley of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, Who Has Wisely Not Held in-Person Services Since the Beginning of the Coronavirus Plague-Pandemic, Says ‘In Our Mind, One Member Contracting Coronavirus on the Grounds of Alfred Street Baptist Church Would Be More Than We Believe Glorifies God’ and He Doubts if Regular in-Person Worship Will Happen Before December; Daniel Whyte III Encourages Pastors, Especially Black Pastors, to Follow This Pastor’s Thinking. According to Religion News Service, the pastor of a New York church that has halted in-person meetings since the coronavirus pandemic hit last year predicts the predominantly Black congregation won’t gather inside its sanctuary until the start of next year. A Pennsylvania minister is counting on warm fall weather to allow some of her congregants to meet for worship outside in October, as it did two Sundays in September. And a Virginia megachurch leader has twice met with his congregants at Maryland outdoor venues — usually reserved for concerts and football games — but doubts regular in-person worship will happen before December. While many congregations have been back to worship for weeks and months, often masked and socially distant, some African American clergy continue to hold off on in-person services. Others have found that when they do open, most members continue to watch the livestreamed services from home. “Every church has to make a decision on where they believe the line of safety is,” said the Rev. Howard-John Wesley of Alexandria, Virginia. “And in our mind, one member contracting COVID on the grounds of Alfred Street would be more than we believe glorifies God.” Alfred Street Baptist Church has faced two realities during the pandemic: Virtual services are successfully attracting members, and people are continuing to die from the coronavirus, including a variant Wesley said recently took the life of a 39-year-old church member. Wesley said his church is erring on the side of caution — and many of his colleagues are coming to the same conclusions. “We compare that to the imagery you see of evangelical white conservative Christians that have their churches back open and are erring on the side of ‘faith,’ and that God will protect us,” Wesley said. “I think you have just a different perspective within African Americans.” The Rev. Leslie Callahan’s St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Philadelphia capped attendance at its two outdoor September services, announcing a maximum of 75 mask-wearing worshippers. She said about 35 attended one service and 50 were at the other, while fellow members watched online. “COVID has been harder on us,” she said of African Americans. “Black people know people who’ve died. Black people know people who are sick now.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in early September that Black Americans are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white Americans, a finding that was also reported by the National Urban League in its 2020 “State of Black America” report. Those kinds of statistics — and the emergence of new virus variants — contribute to the cautious approach on the part of some ministers, their reopening task forces and the people they have surveyed who are currently not in the pews.

According to CBS DFW, Alleged Timberview High School shooter Timothy George Simpkins was released from the Tarrant County Jail after posting bond. The shooting occurred Wednesday, October 6. Simpkins emerged from the building wearing a blue shirt and cap and quickly left the area. Earlier, county records showed Simpkins was transferred from the Arlington Jail to the Tarrant County Jail. His bond was set at $75,000. He faces three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police say the 18-year-old is the person who opened fire in a classroom on the 2nd floor of Timberview High School, after getting into a fight with another student. Police allege Simpkins brought a weapon to school and at some point, during or after that fight, got the 45.-caliber handgun and started shooting. He’s accused of firing that gun, then fleeing the scene. The school was put on lockdown and police searched for him for hours before he eventually went to a local police station, along with his lawyer, and turned himself in. Investigators believe the gun used in the crime was the one found about two miles from the school — along a street in Grand Prairie.

According to the Daily Mail, A Republican taking on Texas Governor Greg Abbott in the gubernatorial primary, who is unvaccinated against coronavirus, said his current case of COVID-19 pneumonia has only emboldened him to fight against vaccine mandates. Allen West, 60, was admitted to the hospital on Saturday due to concern over his oxygen levels. His vaccinated wife, Angela, also contracted the virus. ‘Yesterday my wife, Angela, and I underwent monoclonal antibody infusion therapy at Advance ER in Dallas — special hat tip to the staff there for their care and professionalism. The results were immediate,’ West tweeted Sunday morning. ‘I can attest that, after this experience, I am even more dedicated to fighting against vaccine mandates,’ the Republican vying to take Abbott’s seat tweeted. ‘Instead of enriching the pockets of Big Pharma and corrupt bureaucrats and politicians, we should be advocating the monoclonal antibody infusion therapy.’ ‘Instead of jabbing Americans, and not illegal immigrants, with a dangerous shot which injects them with these spike proteins . . . guess what? I now have natural immunity and double the antibodies, and that’s science,’ he continued.’ West vowed: ‘As Governor of Texas, I will vehemently crush anyone forcing vaccine mandates in the Lone Star State. There are far better protocols that individual citizens can utilize and decide for themselves.’ ‘Our bodies are our last sanctuary of liberty and freedom,’ he wrote, ‘I will defend that for everyone, even the progressive socialist jackasses who must be saved from themselves.’ The antibodies are used to treat those in the early stages of a coronavirus infection.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, A U.S. Army sergeant whom police say shot and killed a pregnant woman carrying their unborn son on a Georgia highway earlier this week was arrested Thursday in North Carolina, where he is stationed. Alonzo Dargan Jr., 30, an active duty staff sergeant at Fort Bragg, now faces charges of murder, feticide and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He allegedly killed Akeila Ware, 29, and the child she was due to deliver in about a month that Dargan had fathered, Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff said at a Friday news conference. On Tuesday, cops responded to what was called in as a single-car crash. When they got there, they discovered an unresponsive Ware inside a Honda Accord that had been sprayed with bullets. “We got a call for what we thought was a simple automobile accident,” Woodruff said. “It turned out to be a murder” … “Very bold, very cold, and very callous”.

According to the Daily Mail, A controversial pastor in the eyes of some worth an estimated $50 million has returned $4.4 million in federal COVID relief loans his megachurch received from the government. According to the Houston Chronicle, Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church has repaid the money after the stadium-sized facility was widely-condemned for accepting the cash last year. A spokesman claimed they needed the loan because the church, which is America’s largest, and can hold 16,800 worshippers at one time, was unable to take weekly collections during COVID closures which it says helps pay its 368 staff members. But that sparked an outcry as details of Osteen’s extreme wealth were once again shared. His most recent address is listed as a six-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion in Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood worth an estimated $15 million. Small businesses could apply for PPP loans with their banks under the federal government’s CARES Act stimulus package as an incentive to keep their workers on the payroll amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Daily Mail, a Virginia man who blared monkey sounds and the N-word at his black neighbor every time she left her house has been seen publicly for the first time, but police claim they cannot arrest him. DailyMail.com grabbed exclusive first pictures of John Eskilsden after he was flushed out of the safety of his house when three suspicious packages were delivered to his neighborhood. But still Eskilsden – who turns 48 next weekend – made no attempt to explain his seemingly racist behavior which has outraged his ethnically-mixed neighborhood in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Nor did his wife Marylou, 48. When DailyMail.com asked the jewelry store clerk if she had anything to say about the heartbreak her husband’s actions had caused, she tersely replied ‘No,’ and got in her car and drove off. The case on Jessamine Court has caused nationwide uproar since Eskilsden’s neighbor, Navy veteran Jannique Martinez, appeared on Don Lemon’s CNN show last week and played video of the blaring lights and obscene chants coming from her neighbor’s home. But Eskilsden refused to answer reporters’ questions – or even come to the door of his 4-bedroom home – as he was pilloried online. Neighbors told DailyMail.com they hardly ever see him. ‘The only time he ever seems to come out is when he puts out the trash on a Wednesday evening,’ said one.

Daniel Whyte III Says Dave Chappelle Has More Testicular Fortitude Than Most Pastors in This Country: Dave Chappelle Gets a Standing Ovation at Biopic Premiere in Los Angeles After Sparking Controversy by Backing J.K. Rowling in Transgender Foolishness and Then He Said, ‘If This Is What Being Canceled Is Like, I Love It’. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Dave Chappelle made his first public comments about the controversy over the transphobic jokes in his latest Netflix special The Closer during a live performance and screening of a new untitled documentary at the Hollywood Bowl Thursday night. “If this is what being canceled is like, I love it,” the comedian reportedly said to a standing ovation that included celebrities like Brad Pitt and Tiffany Haddish. He added later, “[Curse] Twitter. [Curse] NBC News, ABC News, all these stupid ass networks. I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you. This is real life.” In the new special, Chappelle declares himself “Team TERF” in solidarity with figures like author J.K. Rowling who believe that trans women should not be considered “real” women. “Gender is a fact,” he says. “Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth.”

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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!

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