The news this week has appropriately focused on the coverage of the mass murders that took place at the Mother Emanuel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church in Charleston, SC last Wednesday night. Here in Boca Raton, largely unnoticed, people gathered on Saturday in the neighborhood just north and west of our East Campus to recognize and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Pearl City. Pearl City was established in 1915 as a separate community for African American citizens who made a living working on the pineapple farms that operated in this area in the early years of the 20th century. Ten years later, the City of Boca Raton was incorporated in 1925.
Our church was also established in 1925, and when we refer to ourselves as “First Church Boca,” it’s easy to think of ourselves as the “first” church established around here. However, the real “first churches of Boca” were the Macedonia AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church and the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, which were both organized in Pearl City in 1918. We have shared music and preaching with the Macedonia AME congregation over the years; we have partnered with Friendship Missionary Baptist Church (1949) through the years it served as the site for Boca Helping Hands; we are currently sharing ministries to our homeless population with our neighbors at Ebenezer.
So as we continue to pray for the church in Charleston and the people of Charleston and the families of the victims, let’s pray for our neighbors in Pearl City. Listen for a word from the Spirit this week about ways we might as individuals and a church family deepen our ties with our African American neighbors throughout our neighborhoods and local communities. How might God be calling us to be a healing agent in the racial divide that continues to afflict our great nation?
There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28, The Common English Bible
Precious Lord, send your healing Spirit throughout our land. Bless the Emanuel AME congregation and the city of Charleston and make all things work together for good in the wake of the violence there. Help us, as part of your body in Boca Raton, seek your guidance to live into our vows as United Methodists, “to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” We are listening, Lord Jesus. Speak into our hearts we pray. Amen.