About forty-five years ago I preached at Smith Street Church of Christ in South Fulton, Tennessee. Back then, seemed like just about every Protestant group had church at ten o’clock on Sunday morning. Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Christian Church, AME, Episcopalian, Assembly of God, Church of God, and, of course, Church of Christ.
In fact, that particular meeting hour was so predominant at that time, I remember hearing someone say, “Ten o’clock on a Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. During the week we work with other races, we go to school with other races, we go to ball games with other races, we go to movies with other races. But on Sunday morning, all that ends.”
When I learned that the black congregation in South Fulton was starting a gospel meeting series, I decided to see if I could do something positive. Even though it would be during the evening and not affect the ten o-clock on a Sunday morning phenomenon, I thought it might be a start. So, during my sermon in that most segregated hour, I encouraged the other members of our congregation to join me in attending services at the black congregation. A few families took me up on it and we showed up the next night.
Their minister welcomed us and said, “We’ve never had white folks attend our meetings before.” The evangelist acknowledged our presence, thanked us for being there and spoke honestly.
“It’s good to see you white folks here with us tonight. We aren’t used to that but we appreciate it. Now I’m going to be honest with you folks tonight. You white folks have got some problems we don’t have. We have some problems you don’t have.
“White folks have got teenagers lined up in parking lots on Saturday nights, sitting on the hoods of their cars, up to no good. We don’t have that problem; our kids can’t afford cars.
“We have a problem with motivation. We have a problem with some of our people not wanting to work. We have a problem with young black men fathering babies that they have no intention of helping to raise.
“You white folks have some problems we don’t have. You get all concerned and upset over millennialism. ‘Premillennialism,’ ‘post-millennialism,’ ‘Will it be a literal thousand years?’ and so on… We don’t have that problem.
“White folks, white Christians, fighting with each other over just which one and which way it’s gonna be. We black folks are not worried about that. You see, we don’t care whether it’s a thousand years before, a thousand years during, or a thousand years after. And the reason why we ain’t worried about that is that we know no matter which way it is, we are going to be with Jesus and that’s all that we need to know.
“That’s all that matters: are you going to be with Jesus? If you are, then everything else is going to be okay and we ain’t gonna worry about it.”