An Atlanta pastor heavily criticized for focusing on the ills of the black family at singer Aretha Franklin’s funeral will be the special guest at a Dayton church Sunday, Nov. 18.
On Thursday, Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., pastor emeritus of Atlanta’s Salem Bible Church, said he did not know yet exactly what he will say as part of his visit to St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church , 2262 N. Gettysburg Ave. in Dayton, for that church’s 5:30 p.m. Men’s Day service.
But Williams said he stands by the message of accountability he expressed as he eulogized Franklin.
He said the black community is going in the wrong direction and fixing black families is part of the solution.
“There’s too much crime. There’s too much negativity,” he said. “My eyes are on the message that I had all along.”
Franklin’s family issued a statement in September saying Williams’ eulogy was “offensive and distasteful” and did not focus on the life of the award-winning singer.
Williams said that there is never a “wrong time to say the right thing” and his challenges to the black family is something more pastors around the nation have embraced.
“All of us have enough blame to go around as African Americans and it’s going to take all of us to to turn our race around,” said Williams, the founder of African American Churches Transforming Society.
The community-based organization’s goal is to “revitalize churches, strengthen families and rebuild communities through churches working in concert with social and governmental agencies.”
Williams said he has preached in Dayton several times, beginning in 1965 when he met Dayton native Dottie Peoples, a well-known gospel singer, at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton.
Sunday’s Men’s Day service at St Luke’s culminates a month of men’s activities around the theme "Man Your Ground: Reclaiming Our Families and Communities for Christ."
In a press release, Rev. Renard D. Allen Jr., pastor of St. Luke’s, said Williams is one of the most well-known and imitated black preachers of the last 40 years.
“He is also one of the most controversial due to his willingness to stand firmly and speak boldly about what he believes,” Pastor Allen said. “The world witnessed this during his heavily criticized eulogy of The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, when he raised the prophetic question to the African American community ‘where is your soul?’ and then declared we have lost our soul. He cited the lack of male presence in the home as one of the primary reasons for the poor current state of affairs in our community, in addition to systemic racism.”
Williams will be able to expound on his message and inspire people at the Men’s Day service, Allen said.
While acknowledging the black community faces social pressures, Williams said strengthening the home is key to solving problems impacting the black community.
“We can take responsibility for what we can control,” he said. “We can do that. I am just working to change black America as best as I can. I know that starts at the home.”
For instance, he said black men have the responsibility to be present for their children.
“Our men must be responsible for the children we bring in the world,” he said. “It creates problems for society when a boy has a baby that he is not responsible for.”
WANT TO GO
What: Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church’s Men’s Day service
When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18
Where: St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, 2262 N. Gettysburg Ave. in Dayton
More info: http://stlukedayton.org/