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Celebrating Black History Month

First Lutheran Church of Venice

On Sunday, February 26, the First Lutheran Church of Venice (FLV) joined hands with its community to recognize Black History Month. During its 11:00am worship service, FLV honored the past with a musical and life tribute to the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson.

The service featured a world-class gospel band, led by guest Praise Band Leader, Carol-Raines Brown. The special Gospel Praise band included members from the First Lutheran Church of Venice, Christ Lutheran Church of Los Angeles, and musicians from the broader community. From the first song, “Oh Happy Day” to the last, “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In,” attendees joyfully sang and clapped to these Gospel favorites.

The uplifting service brought together members from the Venice community as well as folks from Christ Lutheran Church of Los Angeles and First Lutheran Church Palms and Culver City. Bringing God’s Word with a message of hope was Vicar Kirk Bauer.

This community celebration was possible because of an extraordinary group of Saints from the Venice Church called REACH (Racial Equality and Connecting Hands). REACH’s purpose is to, “Raise awareness and understanding of racial inequality and injustice and facilitate greater understanding and love among people groups.” Anchoring REACH to God’s Word is Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” (NLT). Joining hands with REACH in this celebration was Josh Salzberg from Lutherans for Racial Justice.

In commenting on this recognition of Black History Month, Reverend John Palka from Venice said, “It was like a wonderful glimpse of heaven, being with people of different colors, backgrounds, and cultures, gathered together worshipping God. This is where we need to be standing.” He also commented, “It seems like the issue of racial justice is one to which the church is called to be a voice in our society. It’s low-hanging fruit that the broader church is called to harvest. And as we do so, not only will we be standing on the solid ground of Scriptural truths, but we will also be bringing a needed message to our society, one that the broader society actually sees as being important. Rather than running from this societal issue, we need to be running toward it.”

This celebration of Black History Month was lifted up on social media and promoted in a local newspaper. This resulted in numerous people from the community joining in, taking that first brave step into a church building to hear a message of hope - God powerfully @ Work!


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