In Times Like These: A call to unity and freedom

January 13, 2018
In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith

In Times Like These, we give thanks for the gift of 2017 and the new year that is upon us. For those of us who have made resolutions to address the challenges we faced 2017, it would serve us to remember the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the rise of the Poor People’s Campaign. These occasions can challenge and inspire our advocacy to end hunger and poverty, as they did 50 years ago.

The new weekly devotional guide, “In Times Like These: A Pan-African Christian Devotional Guide for Public Policy Engagement,” honors this legacy and vision. The devotional begins with a January focus on the vision of freedom and unity of Pan-African communities. In the case of African Americans, the annual Watch Night Service has special significance. The African American Registry tells us that on December 31, 1862, the first Watch Night Services were celebrated in black communities in America:

“The Watch Night service can be traced back to gatherings also known as ‘Freedom’s Eve.’ On that night, Black slaves and free blacks came together in churches and private homes across the nation awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had become law. Lincoln had used the occasion of the Union victory at Antietam to issue a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the rebellious states after January 1, 1863.”

The National Archives tell us that:

“President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared ‘that all persons held as slaves’ within the rebellious states ‘are, and henceforward shall be free.’

“Despite this expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union (United States) military victory.

“Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war.” 

Ultimately, the Emancipation Proclamation gave rise to the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude throughout the entire United States in 1865.

The Pan-African devotional uses these victories as a historical venue for examining the biblical and theological meaning of freedom through Jesus the Christ, and the legislative steps necessary for Pan-African people in the U.S., the Caribbean, Canada, and Africa to realize true freedom.

The guide’s January focus explores the spirit of unity among Pan-African peoples, congressional leaders, and advocates who fought against the evils of hunger, poverty, and inhumanity. This battle continues today.

Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan-African and Orthodox Church engagement at Bread for the World

These occasions can challenge and inspire our advocacy to end hunger and poverty, as they did 50 years ago.

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.

    ...

  • Fact Sheet: Hunger by the Numbers

    In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.

  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

Field

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