Georgia Senator talks courage, faith and race in sermon

Senator Raphael Warnock appeared at the Tabernacle on Sunday afternoon.

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Reverend Raphael Warnock addressed the crowd at the Tabernacle. —Mia Vittimberga

On Sunday afternoon, the Tabernacle filled up with guests for a sermon from American Baptist pastor and U.S. Senator from Georgia, Raphael Warnock.

The sermon was part of a collaboration between the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, the Spiritual Life Committee and Union Chapel.

On January 6, 2021, Warnock made history by becoming the first African American from Georgia elected to the U.S. Senate. He is only the second African American to represent a southern state in the Senate since the Reconstruction Era. 

Warnock began his sermon by noting the “multiracial and multi religious” makeup of the crowd.

“But God is bigger than all of that,” he said, inciting applause.

“I’ve been thinking about courage, and the courage to be,” Warnock said. “The courage to love. The courage to keep pressing on … particularly in the midst of trauma.”

Warnock’s sermon focused on scripture from Joshua 1: 1-9, which takes place after the death of Moses.

“[It’s] a moment of trauma and transition,” Warnock said. “What do you do when you witness not only the transition of a person, but the transition of an era?” 

He connected the passage to current political tensions in America, and people clinging to past prejudices. “There’s this concern, and backlash, in this country,” Warnock said. “Because there are folks who are grieving something that is long dead.”

“While I am concerned, I don’t allow myself to get too shaken by those who traffick hate,” Warnock added.

Warnock discussed American attitudes toward race, particularly in the education system.

“Our schools have once again become battlefields for America’s ongoing struggle with race,” Warnock said.

He went on to criticize book bans and the “attack” on affirmative action. “They’re trying to erase black people, erase black history,” Warnock said.

In addition to being a Senator, Warnock is the Senior Pastor of the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, best known for being the church of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“People used to ask… ‘Preacher, what is it like to stand in MLK Jr.’s shoes? I say, ‘I don’t know, I’ve never tried them on. I stand not in the shoes, but on the shoulders,’” Warnock said.

When Warnock was born, Georgia was represented by “unapologetic segregationists,” he said.

“One of [the senators] said, ‘we love the Negro in his place, and his place is at the back door.’ Well, I now sit in his seat,” Warnock said.

Towards the end of the sermon, Warnock circled back to being courageous and faithful.

“Remain confident in God’s power,” he said. “In the murkiness of life, that’s when real faith emerges.”

Warnock raised the idea of “fighting the good fight.”

“You don’t always know how the story ends… but goodness and mercy shall find you,” Warnock said.

He left the crowd with a final message to “be strong, and courageous, and the Lord will make a way,” receiving a standing ovation.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Imagine that– a black woke Christian senator from
    Georgia ,of all places, preaching about courage, faith
    and race. Conservative heads must be exploding
    all over the island.
    Come on boys– I am trolling you– come on out and say
    what you really think.
    I know that one frequent commentor here likely doesn’t
    think senator Warnock is a “real” Christian.
    Tell me I’m wrong.

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