Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category
By Chris Williams
January 14, 1998 was no doubt one of the worst days of my life, while leading a bible study my pager begin buzzing; my pager, wow.
It was a 911 page from my father’s home. After asking someone to return the call for me, I would soon discover that my father and best friend had died suddenly, at 53-years-old of a massive heart attack, while preaching a revival in Oklahoma.
Fast forward. Just nine days later I was standing in front of thousands of people performing the daunting, yet honorable task of delivering his eulogy. I remember it as if it were yesterday. My title was “A Father’s Dream but a Son’s Reality.”
Within the duration of my time, I vowed to finish what my father had started. You see it was really a statement of legacy, in which I made a promise to him that I would carry on the ministry that he, and his father before him, had begun.
Fast forward, 17 years later. Here I am planting The Church at Antioch, all because I had a promise to fulfill and a legacy to carry out, not just my own ambition, but one that is fueled by the life of two great men.
I am the proud product of Moses L. Williams and Merkle J. Williams. While I realize that most are not privileged to have before them the stalwart examples that I had, that does not mean that legacy cannot be realized.
Fathers, I challenge you to make a vow this Father’s Day that you will start now, in your generation, to build and create a legacy that your sons and daughters can carry on.
Do this, so that one day they can make the same promise to you, like I made to my dad on January 23, 1998. I vowed to him that I would finish what he started.
Passing on faith and a life purpose to your children is the most important legacy you can leave.
Happy Father’s Day.
Williams is Pastor of The Church@Antioch.
By Felicia D. Purcell, Bay Area Sports Reporter
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
That’s the scripture from Philippians 4:13 that Steph Curry has written on his shoes and one that’s on his Twitter page which also, in part reads: “Father, Son, Brother, Warrior and Wildcat” for all of his 2.4 million followers to see.
Curry, the 6-foot-3, 185 pound point guard for the Golden State Warriors, isn’t afraid to share his faith and he’s a young man who stayed the course in his life. He sends a signal up and giving credit to God, with his index finger in the air, after each basket he makes. When he knew he wanted to marry his wife, he prayed about it in his closet. Now he’s a World Champion and when asked during a TV interview following Tuesday night’s championship-winning game to what he gave the credit, Curry replied, “I give glory to God.”
After a dream record of 67-15 and only two losses at home during the regular season Curry is filled with his Faith along with other teammates like James McAdoo, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli.
Curry’s faith was challenged when he wasn’t heavily courted out of high school, when people said mean things to him for being the son of former NBA All-Star, Dell Curry and when his first two years were riddled with ankle injuries.
He was a lightweight, scrawny and had a horrible shot when he was younger but his faith got him through. He had supportive parents and a cool grandma who even served as his game announcer when he was a toddler playing with his Fisher-Price basketball set.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, faith is a noun that means: (1) Belief and trust in and loyalty to God or (2) Something that is believed especially with a strong conviction.
His Under Armour slogan is ‘Charged by Belief’ which isn’t surprising. Curry was raised in North Carolina part of what’s known as the Bible Belt of the south, where a church is on every corner and worship music is played on the radio, daily.
I thought of how proud I was of this young, black man as I saw him lift the Larry O’Brien trophy Tuesday night, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by the Warriors in 40-years.
As I watched him raise his MVP trophy in May, I thought about how far Curry, now 27, had come. I thought about how he kept his composure when everyone counted him out, when Monta Ellis was traded away, and how he apologized for calling me ma’am when I corrected him.
At a time when so many black men are being gunned down in the streets, Curry is a breath of fresh air. He has a beautiful wife, named Ayesha, who has her own YouTube cooking show, Little Lights Of Mine (www.ayeshacurry.com), where she whips up delicious meals, as her husband willingly awaits to taste his wife’s savory creations. They laugh, rap and dance in the clips, live in Orinda, have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who has become a star in her own right, at post-game press conferences and another baby girl on the way in July. Life couldn’t be sweeter for Steph Curry or his season more ordered or ordained.
I thought about how he’s one of the many black men who have done things in an order that the media does not portray: education, career, marriage, family.
During All-Star weekend in New York, this past February, Curry stopped a group of African-American teens and bought them all a pair of his Curry Ones. Just because.
Over the past six-years I’ve watched him patiently deal with questions meant to get under his skin and he’s kept his poise. While he didn’t come from the streets, Curry isn’t blind to the world around him and makes it his job to give back.
“That’s just the type of person he is,” said Davidson teammate Bryant Barr who was with Curry when he visited the White House, earlier this year to speak on Malaria in Africa, and who is also the godfather to Riley.
As part of its support of the Kia NBA MVP Award, Kia Motors America donated a 2016 Kia Sorento LX CUV to the East Oakland Youth Development Center, on behalf of Curry when he received MVP honors in early May.
“It’s very important to give back,” said Curry at the time who said it’s important for athletes to explore outside of their bubble and impact the life of others. “Four wheels can do a lot of good.”
As he got into the meat of his MVP speech, Curry broke down what he applies in his life and on the court: faith, passion, drive, and will.
“I wanted to use this opportunity to shed light on who I am and what drives me to play the way that I do,” he said. “I do a little sign on the court every time I make a shot or good pass, and I pound my chest and point to the sky, and that symbolizes that I have a heart for God. Something my mom and I came up with in college, and I do it every time I step on the floor as a reminder of who I’m playing for.”
Curry also took the time to thank each and every one of his 14 teammates, as well as the equipment manager and security.
He is the first player to win the MVP honor in the team’s history since they moved west. The last time was in 1960 while the Warriors were in Philadelphia and the player was someone named Wilt Chamberlain. Not bad company at all.
“People should know who I represent and why I am who I am, and that is because of my Lord and Savior,” Curry shared. “So, I can’t say that enough.”
According to a 2014 article in Decision magazine,
“In a column in 2013 for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes website, Steph wrote that he loves to point people toward ‘the Man who died for our sins on the cross. I know I have a place in Heaven waiting for me because of Him, and that’s something no earthly prize or trophy could ever top.’
Steph grew up a church kid, but points to a youth service when he was 13 as the time when he accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.
‘It was a big decision that my parents couldn’t make for me,’ he said. ‘It’s been a great walk since then. He means everything to me.’”
Another way he lives out his faith and gives back is through his Stephen Curry Foundation. His website, www.stephcurry30.com lists the charities Curry supports, including Nothing But Nets, which fights Malaria throughout the world, as well as the charity golf tournaments his foundation holds and he supports.
For all of the Charles Barkley-types who said a jump shooting team could never win a World Championship, in the words of Oscar winner Jamie Foxx in the Curry One TV commercial, “fall back.”
By John Crowder
A ceremony celebrating the promotion from middle school to high school of African-American students residing within the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) has generated intense scrutiny on social media, with some claiming that a flier sent through the AUSD email system was a misuse of public resources, and that both the flier and the event may have violated laws against segregation and/or separation of Church and State.
The flier was received by parents of students attending Dallas Ranch Middle School (DRMS) on Friday.
According to Dr. Donald Gill, AUSD Superintendent of Schools, though, the flier should not have gone out.
“Unfortunately a flier that had been prepared by one person at one school was forwarded to others, but it was not authorized by the District,” Gill said.
Gill also commented about the event. “It was a community celebration,” he said. “We support community events like this. But, we wouldn’t support the use of the AUSD logo for this.”
“We support any organization that wants to honor and celebrate the milestones of our students,” he added.
Stephanie Anello, Associate Superintendent, Educational Services, while expressing her support for the event, said that the District was taking steps to ensure that the public is not misled as to the sponsorship of such events in the future.
“I very much support celebrating the achievements and milestones of all students,” she said. “The District acknowledges and respects the right of community organizations to sponsor celebrations for students that attend District schools. Those celebrations are separate from District “promotion” ceremonies which recognize the achievements of all students.”
However, she added “We are going to be meeting with key staff members to determine where District procedures and protocols may have broken down in order to address future instances wherein it may appear that an event is a District event when, in fact, it is a community sponsored event.”
Anello also acknowledged that District resources were used in support of the event.
“Upon investigating the matter, it appears that District resources, including District email, and perhaps some office supplies, were used in support of this event,” she stated.
She went on to say, though, that Dr. Lamont Francies, who is a counselor at Black Diamond Middle School and the pastor at Delta Bay Church of Christ, where the event was held, used his own time and resources in order to have the function.
Ed Dacus, Principal of DRMS, and Pamela Price, a counselor at the school, related the sequence of events surrounding the flier. They said that, some weeks ago, they had received an email with the flier attached, from Francies, who created it.
Dacus related that he believed his role was to disseminate the information it contained to his school community. He had the flier posted throughout the school; in common areas, in the office, and on windows.
Later, on the day of the event, he said he had a conversation with Price, in which she asked if anything further should be done to inform the school community about the function. He then advised Price to inform school parents through School Loop, which she did. “I had no information that the flier was not to be resent,” he said. Price also acknowledged her role in sending out the flier. “I sent it,” she said.
When asked about the event on Tuesday, June 2, Price responded “Is there a problem?”
After being told by Herald staff that it was a private event promoted using school district resources, she pointed to a copy of the flier on the window to her office, unaware that it was not a district sponsored event.
That was confirmed in an email from Gill, received by the Herald Tuesday afternoon, in response to a question of whether district staff were informed that the event was not sponsored by AUSD.
“Yes, a memo was sent this morning,” he stated.
When reached for comment, Francies said that he had sent an email with the flier attached on April 24, and again on May 20, informing District personnel about the event. He said that he had not directed or asked anyone to send the email, or the flier, to anyone else.
He confirmed that there was a conversation between him and Anello, on or about April 27, in which they discussed that the program was not a District sponsored event, but it was in the context of funding for the event, and no discussion of the use of the letters ‘AUSD’ took place at that time.
Francies was unaware that any distribution to the public had taken place at DRMS until the evening of the event. Francies did provide fliers to middle school staff members to be used as they thought was appropriate, and handed the fliers to parents and students at Black Diamond Middle School who expressed an interest in the event.
However, a revised flier without the AUSD information included, was not created or distributed.
Francies described the event as a way to build trust between members of the African-American community and AUSD administration, and as a way to encourage families to focus on the value of a good education.
“A number of our kids are struggling academically,” he said. “These types of events are common in African-American communities, and are a part of our tradition.”
Francies also talked about the church connection.
“The black church is at the heart of our community,” he said. “This was a celebration of black culture.”
“We can’t separate that from our faith tradition,” he added.
“The celebration of one culture is not a denigration of another culture. People have asked about having other cultural celebrations. I support it. I’ll attend,” Francies added.
In fact, this reporter, who is white, was in attendance at this event, having been invited by the African-American parent of a student being honored. While most people attending the event were African-American, many other races and ethnic groups were represented, both in the audience, and as part of the program. As my son and I walked up to the entrance, we were greeted very warmly by a church member, who said, “Welcome to Delta Bay Church.” Throughout the evening, everyone we spoke with was welcoming, and several in attendance made it a point to introduce themselves to, and interact with, my young son.
The message, delivered by Pastor Kirkland Smith of Grace Bible Fellowship, prior to the handing out of achievement certificates to all students in attendance, focused on the importance of obtaining a good education, and on parenting skills.
Francies said that he hopes to expand the event next year.
School Board Member Debra Vinson, who was in attendance at the event along with fellow Board Member Barbara Cowan and several district administrators, provided a statement in which she spoke positively about the function.
“I saw this as a community-sponsored event from community members that wanted to celebrate the accomplishments of students that attended their church, lived in their neighborhood or had received some form of social emotional support from various places in the community,” Vinson shared. “This was not a graduation; it was not a promotion; it was a community celebration and was no sponsored by AUSD.”
“This event was open to all students and there were students and families from non-African-American backgrounds that participated,” she stated. “The flyer should not have been released in its current format by anyone without final approval from District Administrative Staff.”
Vinson continued, “I would hope that the educational achievements of all students would be appreciated because celebrating our students in this community helps to reduce crime, builds self esteem, builds pride in Antioch and sends the message to students that they are not alone in the ‘educational process’ and that the community of Antioch stands behind them. Yes, I want all of our school age students in school daily.”
Explaining the motivation behind the event, Vinson said, “Many students struggle daily to remain focused on learning because there are so many non-educational choices available to them and they have many personal hurdles to overcome. If there are people in the community that want to help students maintain success by celebrating their learning milestones, then we should all stand behind that!”
Vinson concluded, “I hope that the community of Antioch will continue to celebrate our students because it will promote positive ‘citizenship’ and teach them to respect this community called ‘home.’”
When asked about the flier in an email sent to all board members, Walter Ruehlig responded, “I never saw this – I saw it on an AUSD weekly calendar memo given to [the] Board, but thought of that as a throw off favor, much like they might mention State of City (as example). Though I did not attend, I assumed it was like the baccalaureate, privately organized sponsored, funded and promoted. We are meticulous to disassociate baccalaureate from AUSD and I assumed that protocol was in keeping with this.”
“To go the extra mile we rotate churches and invite the entire public,” he added.
Board Vice President Diane Gibson-Gray also responded to the email about the flier, on Sunday night.
“The promotion ceremony on May 29th was described as ‘…a joint African American 8th grade Baccalaureate Ceremony,’ which was not on school property and faith based, as is the high school Baccalaureate Ceremony this evening at Most Holy Rosary Church, which is not an AUSD event. I did not see the promotional flyer until it was published on EastCountyToday.net post event. I now understand it has AUSD’s logo on it and was promoted using district resources.
I did not attend the African American 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony. That evening I was attending the E.N.C.O.R.E. Promotion Ceremony, an AUSD event. I will be attending three of the five middle school AUSD Promotion Ceremonies this Wednesday, in which all 8th grade students promoting on to high school will be celebrated.
My knowledge of the history of the African American 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony is:
·I received a last minute invitation for the 2014 ceremony. I voiced my concerns about it being an AUSD event and did not attend.
·Based on the 2015 ceremony description, I did not view it as an AUSD event and did not attend.
I’m asking Dr. Gill for additional background and information. I have asked that it be placed on our agenda for school board discussion.”
Cowan responded by email with links to a 2011 article entitled “Are black graduations at traditional colleges ‘reverse racism’?” and a report from the Journal of Pan African Studies entitled “Using Cultural Competence to Close the
Achievement Gap.” She did not answer the questions in the email from Herald staff.
Board President Claire Smith did not respond to the email.
Comments on the Herald Facebook page, in response to a commentary by Barbara Zivica, included one by Antioch resident Darcie Hill Cooper.
“This is just crazy,” she said. “This is a step in the WRONG direction.”
Another Antioch resident, Ron Zaragoza wrote, “This doesn’t seem helpful to the people of our community. Seems like it supports divison (sic)…”
Francies responded to the criticism levied by some that the event was exclusionary.
“I understand the backlash. I’m not shocked by it,” he said. “I did this to celebrate one culture and not to exclude anyone else. Everyone was welcome. It was targeted to a group who feels disenfranchised. I make no qualms about that. Of course my intention was never to offend anyone else. We’ve never turned away any kid of any color who wanted to participate.”
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
By Larry Adams
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, . . .1 Corinthians 15:1-4
We receive plenty of messages throughout our lives that are of great importance, but none more important than the message of Easter.
The good news of Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for our sins and His burial in a tomb is a vital part of that message. But the best news of all is that the grave couldn’t hold Him. Jesus rose again! He conquered sin, death the grave for all of us. He is alive and is offering hope, forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe and receive Him into their lives.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is our historical proof and guarantee that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, the only way to God. His resurrection sets Christianity apart from every other religion and approach to God.
All the religions of the world except four are based in pure philosophy. They are the inventions of men.
The four religions that remain are based on the teachings of their founders, (Judaism/Abraham; Islam/Mohammad; Buddhism/Gautama and Christianity/ Jesus Christ).
All four founders died. Three are still in their graves. Only Jesus rose again and only Jesus lives to offer eternal life to all who come to Him by faith.
That’s why Easter is celebrated by millions of people worldwide. Easter is the celebration of life in Jesus Christ who died for our sins, conquered our death and rose again to give eternal life to all who believe and receive Him. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) This is still life’s most important message.
Larry Adams is the Senior Pastor of Golden Hills Community Church, which has campuses in both Antioch and Brentwood. He and his wife Karla are residents of Antioch.
This was first published on April 19, 2014.