Church of God in Christ

Donate to an Effective Ministry: Paradise Church of God in Christ

Paradise Church of God in Christ

(Photo Credit: Paradise Church of God in Christ)

Grace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior:

I am a member of Paradise Church of God in Christ at 4234 Hendrix Drive, Forest Park, Georgia 30297.  To begin, I would like to invite you to join us for worship. Our Pastor, Bishop Paul L. Fortson, is a wonderfully-inspired man of God who loves the Lord and loves His people.  It would be a pleasure to have you attend one of our anointed services in the near future.

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to ask for your support as our church tackles a monumental task.  In 2002, Bishop Fortson was led by the Lord to build a gymnasium and cultural center for the members of Paradise and our surrounding community.  In 2003, we opened the doors to the newly-built Paradise Gymnasium & Cultural Center.  Since then, many wonderful things have transpired to not only benefit our members, but also our local community, the city of Forest Park, and neighboring cities throughout Clayton County.

With a goal to help community residents make positive changes in their lives and build stronger families, Paradise has assisted men, women and youth through mentoring programs, sports tournaments, career and education coaching, and parenting and life skills development.  I am Godly-proud to share that several of the young men and women we have worked with have gone on to college or trade school and are now productive citizens in their respective communities.  Additionally, in 2012, we served the international community by partnering with Forest Park’s City Government as the host site for over 100 volunteers who collectively packaged more than 20,000 meals for the people of Haiti.

Given our Center’s impact, our desire is not only to continue serving in this capacity, but also to do more!  Today, our church is facing a financial challenge, however.  God has given a vision through our Pastor called Sponsor a Saint.  I am asking you to Sponsor a Saint by sowing a seed of $100, $50, or $25.  By sowing a seed, once or becoming a ministry partner, you will enable us to liquidate our mortgage (one million dollars) for the Paradise Gymnasium & Cultural Center.  By liquidating the mortgage, it will allow us to expand our community service and do more.  I believe God placed our church here to help people.  Moreover, I believe God is going to bless you for whatever amount He leads you to give.  We have selected the following theme for this year: “We are called to minister and witness to a deeply distressed and troubled world” (Acts 20:15-18).

With your help and God on our side, we are going to make it!  We would be pleased and honored if you would take a moment and sow a seed today.  You can mail your seed offering to the address above, or please go to our website at www.paradise/cogic.org and make your donation.  All donations are tax deductible.

Be blessed in Jesus name,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

Director of Christian Education

Chairman of Education Special Interest Group

Paradise Church of God in Christ

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SoulTrain.com Feature on Kierra “Kiki” Sheard

Kierra Sheard

Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, daughter of renowned gospel music artist Karen Clark-Sheard, has become an accomplished gospel music artist at only 25 years old.  It was at six years old that a public audience first had a chance to witness Kierra Sheard’s amazing vocals at Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ, pastored by her father Bishop J. Drew Sheard.  Her first appearance on a professional album occurred when she was 10 years old.  She was a featured vocalist on her mother’s debut solo album, Finally Karen (1997), on the song “The Will of God,” written by Bishop Richard “Mr. Clean” White. The song won a 1998 Stellar Award for Best Children’s Performance.  Kiki earned an undergraduate degree in English with a minor in Psychology from Wayne State University.

Read the rest of my article published at SoulTrain.com.

“Like” the article on SoulTrain.com and leave a comment on it at SoulTrain.com.

The Revolutionary Paideia November 2010 Person of the Month: Bishop Paul L. Fortson

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia selects a person who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this blog. The choice this month was too simple. When you think about the month of November as a time to reflect on who and what you have to be thankful for, one of the most important people who I have to be thankful for is my pastor, Bishop Paul L. Fortson. This man is the epitome of what a holy and righteous man of  God is and should be. His love for helping hurting people “unsettles, unnerves, and unhouses” us and lets us know that it is not about our own selfish interests, but it’s about a spirit of compassion for loving and giving to others. In a time when we have questions about the salvation and leadership of certain clergymen, Bishop Fortson is one man we don’t have any questions about. His leadership is simply impeccable. At some churches, the preachers don’t have time to talk to you and even pray for you personally. Bishop Fortson always takes time to pray for you and talk to you.

While many saved and unsaved people criticize preachers about always wanting money, Bishop Fortson is not interested in getting your money. He is interested in how to get you into Heaven and into showing you how you can live a victorious and prosperous life in this present world. Soul winning is Bishop’s top priority—not money! This is why the Lord has blessed him so richly and thoroughly.

I very much appreciate Bishop’s prayers and love. Even while I’m about 15 hours away from him, he’s always praying for me. I appreciate that so deeply. Some preachers are “so deep” that you cannot talk to them, but this is not true about Bishop. He’s a person you can talk to like anyone else. He’s going to tell you what the bible says and what God spoke to him about your life, so don’t get mad when he tells you just like it is. When he tells you just like it is, he does it with love. You should appreciate his candor. We have enough preachers today who are not transparent, but we can be thankful that Bishop Paul L. Fortson is one preacher who is not going to hide anything from you.

This man of God has fed the homeless and given them shelter. We need more selfless people like him in the world. We also need more selfless preachers like him.

When it comes to how he teaches and preaches, he is going to tell you what God said without sugarcoating it. He teaches the bible in a way that adds nothing to it and takes nothing from it.

I could really go on and on about this great man of God, but time and space will not allow me. One day, I’m going to write a book about Bishop Fortson so that it will be a blessing to his members and to the world. The world needs to hear about and learn from this great man of God.

I encourage you to visit Bishop Paul L. Fortson and his lovely wife, Evangelist Carolyn C. Fortson, at Paradise Church of God in Christ at 4234 Hendrix Drive in Forest Park, Georgia. You can email me at antoniomdaniels@gmail.com for information about times and days of church services, and/or you can leave a comment on this blog for more information about church services and directions.

Again, it is with great pleasure that I name Bishop Paul L. Fortson as The Revolutionary Paideia November 2010 Person of the Month. Bishop, thank you for your love, service, commitment, leadership, and example. Revolutionary Paideia highly endorses Bishop Paul L. Fortson. God bless Bishop Paul L. Fortson, Evangelist Carolyn C. Fortson, and family!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Facebook and the Black Church

In the Black Church, especially in the Church of God in Christ (C.O.G.I.C.), Black Church leaders have to gain a more sophisticated understanding of Facebook. You cannot lead your congregations based on assumptions or limited knowledge about phenomena. Black Church leaders in general have demonstrated little to no real understanding about how Facebook works, what it really is, and the great opportunities and enjoyment that it offers its users. I want everyone to know that I am a strong supporter of Black Church leaders. I am a product of the Black Church and the Black Church has been and is instrumental in helping me to be the person I am today. My pastor is a Black Church leader. I want people to know, therefore, that this article is not in any way a hateful piece directed at the Black Church and Black Church leaders. What this article does is offer a critique of some Black Church leaders that might spur important discourses, which ultimately can ameliorate the state of the Black Church and Black Church leaders on the issues discussed in this piece.

While I don’t think people should put all of their personal information and business on Facebook and other related sites, I do think Facebook can be used as a positive and creative vehicle for expressing how one feels and it allows one to be able to keep his or her personal salvation that has been granted by God. It is better for people to blow off some steam by saying something through a Facebook status than to go out and blow off steam in ways that can be destructive, resulting in some harmful sins. When you spend too much time on Facebook, this is when you might need to be concerned about how it is affecting your personal relationship with God.

However, for those Black Church leaders who say that it is a sin to be on Facebook, you are completely wrong. For those Black Church leaders who say that Facebook is demonic, you are completely wrong. For those Black Church leaders who say that iPods and iPhones are demonic, you are completely wrong too. What Black Church leaders must understand is it is not these things that make people do terrible or sinful things, it is the people who do terrible or sinful things. Don’t blame these things on the sins people commit.

You cannot take one or more Facebook statuses of a person and try to demonize him or her for what he or she says. Therefore, when you go and report what someone has said on his or her statuses to the pastor of the church, you need to provide him or her with more evidence that suggests that this person is really in need of serious prayer. You should not be reporting stuff to your pastor just to attempt to point out some flaws about a person. Would you like your flaws to be reported to your pastor each time your flaws are exposed?

I have noticed that in the Black Church issues like Hip-Hop music and culture, contemporary fashion, attending movie theaters, women wearing pants, homosexuality, masturbation, pornography, and other issues are addressed with little depth, often reduced to a single scripture. We must be more sophisticated than this Black Church leaders!

For those Black Church leaders who don’t know, people can play games on Facebook like Family Feud, Café World, Baking Life, Farmville, and etc. What’s so harmful about that? What so sinful about that? If people are chatting on Facebook, they are chatting with people who they know in some way, especially if they are only accepting people as friends who they really know. What’s so sinful about that?  Why is more scrutiny placed on Facebook’s chatting function than the basic telephone? If it is so sinful to chat on Facebook, then it should be just as sinful to chat on the telephone, right?

I strongly encourage Black Church leaders to get more knowledge about Facebook before making any poor judgments about it. Just because Facebook has so many users, many of those users are Black Church members, should not automatically qualify it as something evil. I know after writing this article many people are going to be angry with me, and some Black Church leaders are going to say, “That boy needs serious prayer and he has some demons in him.” My response is, “You are supposed to be praying for me anyway.” Lol!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Queer Contradictions of the Black Church

Black Church

Although I am a strong supporter of the Black Church, it is important to think about and discuss some of the most vexing contradictions of it. First, I want to make it clear that I am a Christian, a member of the Black Church, a member of Paradise Church of God in Christ in Forest Park, Georgia, heterosexual, and an African-American. I love the Black Church, especially my church, Paradise Church of God in Christ in Forest Park, Georgia. I love my pastor, Bishop Paul L. Fortson, and my first lady, Evangelist Carolyn C. Fortson. Let’s be clear—this article is not about the church that I attend and my Pastor and First Lady.  This article has a larger purpose: to critique the contradictions in the way the Black Church treats homosexuality.

In the Black Church, especially in the Church of God in Christ, I often hear about how God despises homosexuality and I agree with this position because it is very much supported by Scriptures. My problem with how homosexuality is discussed in the Black Church, especially in the Church of God in Christ, is that it often comes off as being very hateful and/or insensitive. You can tell people that they need to change their ways without being so exploitative in the way in which you refer to them. For example, I have often heard in sermons in the Church of God in Christ homosexuals being referred to as “sissies,” “faggots,” and “dikes.” Now, this use of language is unnecessary to inform your audience that homosexuality is not supported by the Scriptures. This use of language seems to be tremendously mean-spirited. The role of the preacher and Church is to help to drive people to Christ—not to run them away. It seems that this use of language emerges from laziness and the failure of Black preachers in the Black Church to employ effective persuasion to change people’s homosexual ways, so they use a simplistic strategy: name-calling. Name-calling is for children—preachers are supposed to be adults, so act like it.

In Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism, Cornel West (2004) writes, “For Emerson, to be a democratic individual is to speak out on uncomfortable truths; to be an active player in public discourse is to be thrown into life’s contingency and fragility with the heavy baggage of history and tradition, baggage like the American legacies of race and empire” (p. 74). As a person with a commitment to Socratic inquiry and bearing prophetic witness to Truth, I have to speak those “uncomfortable truths” that Cornel West states that Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about. If the Black Church was so serious about homosexuality, then it would not take homosexuals’ money during offering time. During offering time, I want to hear these preachers say, “We don’t want your gay money.” I want to hear them say, “Sissies and dikes stay in your seats because we don’t want your nasty money.”

The Black Church seems to be tremendously dishonest when offering time comes: Preachers become everyone’s friend when offering time comes because they want everyone’s money. I would just like them to remember how harsh they are to homosexuals during their sermons, so be consistent and honest and tell them you don’t want their money. If you can speak to them in such disparaging ways during your sermons, then use the same rhetoric when you are passing that collection plate around. How’s that for transparency? Have I unsettled you yet? If not, maybe I will now. In many Black churches, people are gaining salvation while many homosexuals are singing and playing the music that they are shouting and dancing too. Hmm…Now, when will these preachers remove the homosexuals from their choirs and music departments if they are so serious about homosexuality?

The Black Church’s love of money exposes its contradictions on the issue of homosexuality. With all of the sins the Bible speaks about, it seems that the Black Church wants to focus on the most divisive sins in the Bible. The reason why I see that preachers are wanting to focus on the more divisive sins is they gain them much more attention—just like controversy breeds cash in the media, controversy breeds cash in churches. Some preachers have even gained their fame by how harsh they speak about homosexuality, but where is the love of Christ in this harsh language you use about homosexuals? Did Christ say love and respect everyone except homosexuals? No!

While I very much contend that the Scriptures speak against homosexuality, I argue that the Scriptures also tell you to talk about homosexuality with love and compassion. Now, how can you say that you are treating people with love and compassion when you are calling them “sissies,” “faggots,” and “dikes.” I already know I’m going to receive a significant amount of criticism for this article, but what I have said in this article needs to be said. People think it is so funny when preachers in the Black Church try to get the audience’s attention by using derogatory language to refer to homosexuals, but what if more derogatory language was used to expose your lying, fornication, profanity, watching and viewing of pornography, intoxication, gossiping, and etc.? It may not be so funny to you anymore. Hmm…I’m just saying.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison