Voices from the Margins: A Renaissance of Black Prophetic Preaching and Leadership in Problematic Times

The Rt. Rev. Edward Donalson III


As the nation and the world face numerous evils that dwarf problems of the past, religious communities are being called to action. Whiteness shrouded in religious language, centuries of slow responses to radical suffering, and the privileging of Evangelicalism in the Black Church have all silenced the prophetic impulses needed today. This essay offers an invitation to a renaissance of Black prophetic leadership, refusing relevance and survival within a system for whom the system was not constructed. The God of Exodus needs destabilizing so the God of Exile and Hagar may now invite and inspire constructive reform of church and society that does not prioritize the dominant gaze or whiteness. Prophetic Black preaching leads the way in renewing the biblical narrative, awakening to the power of language, the need for holistic embodiment, and representative educational leadership for curriculum revision leaning toward justice, human flourishing, and transformation.

We are now faced with national and global evils of epic proportions that call for religious communities to respond with a clarion call to action. The empire known as the United States of America currently has a Commander in Chief who invites a Tuskegee Airman and honors Rush Limbaugh simultaneously at the State of the Union with no sensitivity to how polarizing that is, particularly during Black History Month. The occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. should discern the optics, which clearly commodify Black bodies while simultaneously extolling the system of white supremacy that continues to marginalize and disinherit those bodies. This divisive and demoralizing behavior is made possible because a support base of religious folk is trafficking in a theo-logic that they look to enshrine in public policy to secure supremacy for themselves and their children for generations to come. The present administration and the religious supporters of this administration have worked tirelessly to manage the perception that people are only suffering what they deserve for being “illegal aliens,” from S-hole countries, who are dangerous criminals, bent on destroying our culture and taking our jobs. It is said that theology arises from the freedom and responsibility of the Christian community to inquire about its faith in God (Migliore 2014, 1). This is for me true, and yet I see the responsibility of theology to continually examine the proclamation of the church by continually critiquing and revising the language of the church (Cone 1997, 84).

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About the Author:
Edward Donalson III, DMin, is the Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, Seattle University.
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