The Front Page

Welcome to the Front Page, the digital cover of the Wayne Press.  Here we will share with you things that can't be captured in our newsletter--videos, music, color photographs--as well as articles that reflect on faith and life.  


To be Young, Gifted, and Black: Reflections on leadership and legacy

There are particular moments in time when it makes sense to be sentimental about being an African-American. In case you can't think of the proper occasions, let me lay a few out for you.  During the inauguration  of the First Black president, I cried like a baby.  When the kids from the inner-city  recite the "I have A Dream Speech" during the Black History Month Program, I stand on my feet and clap my hands with joy and admiration.  As I helped my son, who is named after a prominent African-American figure, complete his research project so he could tell the class about a man named Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, my heart was filled with pride.  

This past week, I was selected for new pilot program in our denomination (PCUSA) to link together African-American leaders for the hopes of providing encouragement  and support to the next leaders in line to serve congregations and executive offices within the church and across the country. It sounds like a nice program, right? It sounds like a quality event  that would benefit those in attendance. But it doesn't necessarily sound like an an event that would cause one to be sentimental about being black.  Let me give you a few reasons why.  

As we gathered together for that opening night of worship, I looked around the room. I kept thinking to myself, how much struggle, protest, death, and sacrifice did it require on the part of our ancestors to allow us to be in positions of leadership and influence all across this country, throughout this denomination, and in the world?  Who were the pastors in years gone by who felt the deep wounds of standing up for truth and justice so that we could serve in ways that are life giving and healthy? In a stirring sermon one evening, Rev. Robert Burkins began to list the names of African-American leaders who had gone on to glory. After each name, he would simply say, "GONE".  In the silent pause after each name called, there was a deafening reminder that strong leaders must reach back and invest spiritually and emotionally to the next generation of leaders. And in this case, it was the call to identify the unique position and responsibilities that  black pastors have to not only care for their congregations but to care for marginalized and oppressed communities that surround these congregations.  

Here's where I got a little choked up. In a room of 30 black leaders, I was one of a few who currently serve a predominately White congregation. And there are times, that while you KNOW you are a black pastor you may not FEEL  like a black pastor who has the dual role of being a  leader on the front lines of caring for the needs of the local congregation and  the black community. For those four days in Montreat, I was reminded that I am a black leader, no matter where I am and wherever I go.  I was encouraged to be strong and courageous as I face new ministry adventures.  I was reminded that being black allows me to see the world differently and to offer that gift of perspective to every context that I am privileged to serve.

As I sat there in the peaceful paradise that is Montreat, I thought about Wayne Pres. I thought to myself, what are the odds that God would allow me to serve a suburban congregation that cares deeply for the needs of those in marginalized and oppressed communities?  I thought about the young children and families in Southwest Philadelphia who are making a difference and will make a difference in the future. I got a teary-eyed as I thought to myself, Lord --> you have truly called our congregation to continue to be part of something great.  And as the Lord told Joshua before he entered the land of Canaan, we have been given us the charge to be strong and courageous for the Lord will be with us wherever we go as we serve with open hearts and willing hands. 

I was blessed this past week at Montreat. It touched my heart to share love, laughter, concerns, and hope with beautiful people that I now call friends.  And I am continually motivated to share my gifts with each of you as we work together to use our gifts for God's Kingdom. - A.

To read more about the week at Montreat, check out this article from



Posted by Aisha Brooks-Lytle at 2:09 PM
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4/26/2013 at 05:49 PM by Tara

Thank you and blessings for sharing. I can't imagine your feelings. It seems to take soooo long for the Spirit to move the privileged to right action. You have numerous gifts that you are sharing and will share. Keep those among us who are still invisible in prayerful hope.... With G-d there is unconditional Jesus Christ, we rise and with the Holy Spirit, we survive until the torch is passed; the invitation to the table is extended and our stories are heard...May you continue to flourish with G-d's grace flowing through you and the enduring courage to be G-d's faithful servant...Abundant joy to you and your loved ones

4/27/2013 at 10:45 AM by Emily Zimbrick-Rogers

Aisha, thanks for sharing this! really good to hear. and excited to see your service in the Church expand and expand.

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