December 31, 2015

Posted by Al Hathaway Thursday, December 31, 2015 0 comments

Early this morning I'm reading the devotional distributed by Union Baptist Church. The reading is from Jude 22. "Others save with fear, pulling them out of fire." The title is, "Get Involved."

It emphasizes the responsibility we have to go after someone we love who is taking the wrong step. That's a challenging reading because it makes the assumption one is able to discern the difference between right and wrong. It also makes the assumption that your relationship with a particular love one is strong enough that it can withstand the intrusion into another affairs.

I've lived long enough to accept both assumptions when it comes to the people I love. My circle of love is fairly expansive. I love my church members. I love my community members. I love my family members. That's a broad circle of love. In my interaction with each circle, I have leadership, teaching, modeling, and mentoring responsibilities. I love the give and take within each circle. I receive much more than I give. Why? Each interaction teaching me more about myself and my relationship to God. God is the driving force and the standards God sets establishes the bar for what is right and wrong. God also provides the mandate for me to activate this scripture as my responsibility to save my love ones from going the wrong way.

Within the church setting, the wrong way is when they are not deeping their relationship with God and being actively engaged in spreading God's word.

Within the community setting, the wrong way is when opportunities are being curtailed and safety is being compremised. It's when the aesthic fabric of the communtiy becomes frayed. It's when economic opportunity is derailed. It's when academic achievement is deferred. Unfortunately a community can too easily go in the wrong direction, largely by external forces that push it in that direction. To change the trajectory requires a full time commitment to service.

Within the family setting, its modeling the behavior of Christian love. It's also establishing a pattern that prayfully your love ones will seek to emulate. It's being in a real relationship with them so they fully understand that all you do is for their good.

Okay, make 2016 the year each of you get involved in the lives of people within the church, the community and your families so that none will go the wrong way in life, especially you.

Penn North or Gilmore Homes

Posted by Al Hathaway Wednesday, December 16, 2015 0 comments

It is interesting that clergy leaders want to gather on the corner of Penn North to demonstrate their concern that we have no more distribances in the City of Baltimore. The April 2015 distribrance and the symbolic burning of the CVS on the corner of Penn North should not be the place for continuing demonstration. National media made that corner the focal point. The return of clergy to that corner reinforces the image that disturbances only occurs within our community. I would argue downtown near Camden Yards is a more powerful symbol. It was the point where the disturbances got out of hand and there was looting and breaking of store windows. Also, there were direct confrontation with police and destruction of police vehicles. For religious leaders to assemble on the Penn North corner is disconcerting. It says we are anticipating a fire on this corner when there is no evidence a fire will occur. Too often we direct our attention towards the symbolic versus the substantive. If we should have learned anything from the April 2015 distrubances, its that the problems that created the conditions are long standing. I believe a more effective place to gather would be within the Gilmore Homes projects. That is the real focal point. That is the point where you will find people with the greatest need.

Anticipating Violence

Posted by Al Hathaway Tuesday, December 15, 2015 0 comments

The threat of violence and the reality of violence hovers over so thick, it's like a dense fog without an end. A fog that does not permit light to come in and even does not allow you to see your hand before your face. The density of the violence hovering over us has us jumping even when someone says, "boo!" I don't mean to minimize the reality and the threat of violence. It is very real. It is everywhere. But in this season of Advent, my prayer is that the light of God's child will shine once again within our land and piece its way into people's hearts. My prayer is that this storm is over!

Mentors and Sponsors

Posted by Al Hathaway Monday, December 14, 2015 0 comments

Yesterday a successful global marketing executive spoke at Union Baptist Church. In the address the person outlined her 20 year experiences that led to her being named by Forbes magazine as the #12 global marketer out of #50 in the world. That's quite an accomplishment for a member who grew up within the religious crucible of UBC. As the member outlined the experiences that developed her career, the member continously acknowledged she knew people were praying for her. This confident African American female dropped a bombshell on the audience. She said that in life you need both mentors and sponsors!

Within the community we continously talk about people having mentors, but the idea of a sponsor was different. Please explain the difference? A mentor is a person who talks to you - a sponsor is a person who talks about you to others.

Maybe its time we change our strategy and adopt this idea as our own? Do you have both mentors and sponsors? Do you have a cadre of people who talk to you, people you can confide in, people you can go to for advice? And, do you have a group of people who talk to others about you, people who promote you in circles and with people when you are not around, people who open up doors for you and introduce your to an ever wider array of relationships? If the nature of our society is expanding your network of relationships, maybe more of us need to adapt the notion of identifying both mentors and sponsors?

On a person level, Jesus has been the best mentor for me. "He has walked with me and talked with me." God has been my sponsor. "He has opened doors no man could shut."

Within the earth realm, I suggest that each of you identify and develop a cadre of mentors and sponsors. Both will assist you in your journey through life.

Mr. Melvin Williams

Posted by Al Hathaway Sunday, December 13, 2015 0 comments

Very few people live their lives in the public arena with all of their faults, flaws, failures, flattery and fortitude are known. Mr. Melvin Williams demonstrated many negative and positive things. I would argue the story of his life, which is legendary, is contained in these words, "how to rebound from a knockdown!" Few have risen as high in the underground life as Mr. Williams. Few have earned the street credibility on the public stage as Mr. Williams. Few have spent a vast amount of their years in prison, only to return with the opulence of a king, then Mr. Williams. People may have heard of "Little Melvin" but you have to be living under a rock, not to know of "Mr. Melvin Williams." People wonder what do you do with the large amounts of returning citizens. People who have been incarcerated and now are returning to the neighborhoods and street corners from which they were taken. The life of Mr. Williams should give you some insight. First, treat them with respect. Second, allow them to repent of their past mistakes. Third, utlize their experiences for the betterment of the community. Fourth, allow them to earn an income. Fifth, help them to reunite with their family and friends. Sixth, cause them to understand they are forever on the police department's watch list. Seven, channel their entrepetneurial spirit into positive endeavors. Mr. Melvin Williams is gone, but his legend and his life will live on because he demonstrated, "that its not how you start it is how you finish." Mr. Melvin Williams finished very strong!

A change one's mindset

Posted by Al Hathaway Monday, December 7, 2015 0 comments

Life has taught me that the only way to change a situation is the person in the situation has to change their mindset. I define mindset as one's mental capacity to accept one's current reality and one's willingness to change that reality. A situation is what one perceives as the reality. Unless a change is made in one's reality, I don't believe you can change a situation.

 Let's see if I can provide you with an example. I observed some homeless individuals living under cardboard boxes near an underpass. One would say, "this is a tough situation for a person to live in." The reality is the person is exposed to the changes in the weather and is unable to protect themselves from those changes. If I provided that same person with a minitrailer. The minitrailer would be placed in the same situation. Conceptually the person who was once homeless, living under a cardboard box, is now living in a minitrailer in the same place, but their mindset has changed because the person has an address-123 Minitrailer Way. Going from living under a cardboard box to living in a minitrailer would create a seachange, I believe, in the mindset of the individual. The person is in the same position, but because of a change in mindset, the person is in a new condition.

Let's apply this same logic to violence within our community. Currently, some persons preceive that the only way to respond towards another person is violently. The mindset is it is better to hurt or kill someone for something they have either done to you or to prevent them from doing something to you. The eye for an eye logic was evident in Old Testament law and society. Jesus proposed a change in one's mindset. Jesus suggests that one develop the mindset to turn the other cheek. He also suggests that one become wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. Both suggests Jesus is saying to change one predisposition to violence by developing in your mind a predisposition for forgiveness. Forgiveness is the antidote to responding to either something being done to you or preventing something from being done to you violently.

I believe the current context we find ourselves in as a society requires, demands, a change in one's mindset to change the current reality we all find ourselves in.

Offering Tech Learning Opportunities to Community Youth

Posted by Al Hathaway Sunday, December 6, 2015 0 comments

Union Baptist Church through its Cyber Center is offering training in the many Tech areas: 3D Printing, Robotics, Maker Camp, Web Site Development, and Coding. These skills are being introduced to middle school ages students that attend Booker T. Washington Middle School. It is our belief, and there are many examples, that if you introduce these skills to students at an early age, they will master the skills needed for jobs in the future. We are blessed to have a committed core of adults and talented youth who are assisting in this endeavor. The Digital Harbor Foundation is provided critical guidance and support as we model their program within the West Baltimore Upton Community we serve. It is ironic that our church sits on the corner that was the third stop on the infamous Freddie Grey police van ride. Now though our Tech Center we can provide opportunity and hope to area youth and a safe environment to learn critical skills. Keep us in prayer as we embark on this new journey to support our youth and increase their options for the future.

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