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INTRODUCTION

Years ago, my pastor and friend, Bishop John Richard Bryant, shared with me a saying from Frederick Douglass. I paraphrased it in my own words so I could remember it: Without a struggle, there is no progress.

The A.M.E. Church, the church that I love, is in a struggle for its future. If we win the struggle, progress and prosperity will replace a structure of spiritual and material poverty.

The purpose of this pamphlet, "Up From Slavery," is to serve as a revolutionary wake-up call for all African Methodism. Our church is a sleeping giant. We have gone to sleep on the vision and values that created great people, families, institutions, businesses and churches out of individuals the world considers insignificant. The new millennium needs a giant that has the power to do the extraordinary in impossible circumstances. WAKE - UP!

Richard Allen and those who believed in and acted on his God-given vision, enabled people to move Up From Slavery! Like Caleb, they had a "different spirit," a spirit that refused to stay in the wilderness or go back into slavery. (Numbers 14:24)

Poets, political thinkers and psychologists have taught us that it is not enough to change a person's condition, you must change their consciousness. Moses led the people out of Egyptian bondage and he changed their condition. What Moses discovered, however was that until they changed their consciousness, the people would continue to make enslaving choices. They were out of slavery, but slavery was still in them. Moses led them out of slavery, but he could not lead them up from slavery.

1787 and 1816 were the birth years of two institutions in the Free African AME Church, which led the African people out of slavery and empowered them to remain free. However, our historic successes lulled us to sleep and we found ourselves imprisoned to a demonic system, which looked like African Methodism but was only a facade. As the A.M.E. Church began to lose the power to positively transform lives and communities, the powers of pathology began to increase in the African and African American communities.

All forms of corruption and powerlessness began to plague us when it looked like we were free. In the new millennium, we have more material things but find ourselves at the top of almost every list of dysfunctional behavior and disease because slavery is still in us.

Satan has created a religious system whose purpose is to keep people in hell (Egypt/bondage/slavery) on earth. This system steals, kills and destroys (John 10:10). Jesus decrees that he has come to give us the abundant life "Up from Slavery" (John 10:10b).

-2- From 1952 to the present, over a half-century, the A.M.E. Church has lost its global revolutionary influence and impact. This small book is a call to reclaim our revolutionary heritage and allow the Lord to enlarge our territory. It is a challenge to destroy the spiritual culture of slavery, and move "Up from Slavery."

Free your revolutionary mind and revolutionary results will follow: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. WAKE UP! WAKE UP FROM SLAVERY!

UP FROM SLAVERY: A REVOLUTIONARY WAKE-UP CALL FOR AFRICAN METHODISM BY DR. FRANK M. REID, III

I. I Won't Bow Down!

The A.M.E. Church is the greatest church in the world! I love the A.M.E. Church with all my heart. I hate the system of spiritual, cultural, economic and political slavery that masquerades as African Methodism.

Five generations of the Reid family have committed themselves to the liberating message and life changing methods of the revolutionary African Methodist Episcopal Church. My great-great grandfather, great grandfather, grandfather, father and I were all part of the preaching, teaching and pastoral ministry of Christ under the banner of African Methodism.

Two of these five generations were elected Bishops in our Zion, Bishop Frank M. Reid, Sr. (elected 1940) and Bishop Frank M. Reid, Jr. (elected in 1972). I might have made history and become the third generation of A.M.E. Bishops.

As a successful pastor in the A.M.E. Church, the Lord enabled me to make successful contributions to African Methodism in Monrovia Liberia, West Africa (1975-76), Charlotte, NC (1978-80), Los Angeles, California (1980-88) and Baltimore, Maryland (1988 to present). Each church that I was assigned to was on the leading edge of revolutionary change in that city. We were engaged in recreating Richard Allen's vision for a relevant and radical faith community. Because of this, each church grew and had a tremendous impact in the areas of spirituality, politics, economics and culture.

In the spring of 2003, I announced that I was a candidate for Episcopal service at the 2004 General Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was in my early 50s. I knew that the A.M.E. Church was in a life and death struggle for its future. I believed that I could be part of an Episcopal team that would bring the church back to its revolutionary roots.

My Bishop, Vinton Randolph Anderson, is extremely supportive. My mother, Adrenis Carter Reid, was overjoyed about the decision. The leadership team of the 2nd District was unified and looking forward to electing another Bishop. (Since the General Conference in 1964, the 2nd District has elected Bishops in 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000.)

-2- I was personally moved and influenced by the historic timing. In 1940, my grandfather was elected Bishop. In 1972, 32 years after my grandfather was elected, my father became Bishop. If I were elected in 2004, I would have become Bishop 32 years after my father. I thought this must be God's set up. How wrong I was!

When I made the announcement, I immediately became one of the front-runners for the office. As I began to move through the Episcopal election process, I rediscovered the demonically dark side of African Methodism. I saw close-up and personal a satanic system that makes slaves out of good people. I discovered a religious bureaucracy that was selfish, bloated, self-serving and had little concern for the development of the local church, pastor and laypersons. Instead of equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry, this system created and equipped slaves to feed the bureaucracy. Sadly, a once great denomination with a great vision that led people to freedom had become blind to its purpose driven vision and was leading people into bondage. This system has seduced people to bow down and worship it!

On Saturday, June 19, 2004, I announced that I was withdrawing from the race for Episcopal Service in 2004. I withdrew as a revolutionary act of radical resistance. I refused to bow down to a system that lost its dynamic mission. I refused to bow down to a bureaucracy of bondage.

This pamphlet is a wake-up call for the African Methodism that sold its birthright for a bowl of porridge (Genesis 25:32-34). This essay is for all those loyal members of any Black denominations that hunger and thirst for the transformation of their Zion and refuse to be conformed to "the system." (Romans 12:2)

The theme of my Episcopal campaign was "Let's Start A Revolution!" The system process is counter-revolutionary and anti-change. It's time to help the satanic system die. As Christians, we know that it is only through death that the revolution called resurrection takes place! It is only out of the resurrection that we can ascend to a new dimension of anointed success.

It's time to (i) crucify African Methodism as we know it; (ii) descend into our self-made institutional hell; (iii) experience the power of resurrection; (iv) reclaim the gifts of restoration and revival; and (v) arise to a new era of greatness.

What do we want?

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II. Are You Chained or Changed?

In the summer of 1979, Bishop Henry Wendell Murph had a 2nd District Retreat in Lake Junalaska, North Carolina. The theme of the retreat was from a book entitled, "Are You Chained or Changed?" The scriptural theme was from Romans 12:1-2.

I beseech you therefore, brother and sisters, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Every Christian member, leader and institution should continually ask themselves: Am I chained or changed? Why? Because it is so easy to move from salvation (freedom) to slavery! In fact, the anti-Christ system believes that every Christian individual and institution can be seduced back into slavery. Yes, it is possible to be in church and still be a slave to destructive attitudes, activities, agendas and actions.

In 1944, the great scholar, linguist, preacher and pastor, Charles Leander Hill, was asked to present a paper on the New Testament understanding of Episcopal ministry. When the paper was delivered, it caused quite a controversy. Dr. Hill concluded that one of the key New Testament components of the episcopacy was to be an overseer of the church. He made a distinction between the New Testament definition of overseer and the anti-bellum slave plantation meaning of overseer. The paper declares that all too often the A.M.E. system has chosen to enact the slave plantation system of oversight. Divide and conquer! Rule by fear, force and intimidation!

Almost 20 years later, the African psychologist from Martinique, Frantz Fanon, warned of the psychological chains the oppressed carry when they move into positions of power and leadership. In his book, "The Wretched of the Earth," Fanon shows how the pathologies of the powerless become the pathologies of the powerful. Whenever the oppressed copy the oppressor's model of leadership, there is self-destruction. Fanon states emphatically that in this type of system, the oppressed leader becomes the new oppressor of the people who are hungry for freedom.

Are you chained or changed?

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In 1972, the A.M.E. Church elected a class of 8 new Bishops. It was the class that would change the church for the better! They would break the chains of the old slave style system. The Class of '72 was our Moses generation. They were sent by God to declare unto Pharaoh's system of bondage Let my people go! Their assignment was to lead African Methodism into the Promised Land. Sadly, we soon discovered that we elected people who allowed the politics of conformity and the seduction of the system to take African Methodism back into bondage. (Numbers 14:4) Radical legislation that had been passed in 1972 was rewritten, repealed or just ignored by 1976-1980. In 1976, the "old Pharaohs" were forced to retire and the "new Pharaohs" were totally in charge. The new Pharaohs were smart enough to make room for a group of young women and men who would create a new culture of growth.

Rev. John Richard Bryant, elected Bishop in 1988, pioneered an important reform movement that spawned a new generation of A.M.E. leaders. This new generation of leaders, the Joshua generation, built effective congregations and was a contemporary model of the power of Allen's A.M.E. mission.

This A.M.E. movement was on the leading edge of a paradigm shift in North American Christianity. The same principles that had been tested and proven by John Wesley, Richard and Sarah Allen, Jarena Lee, Daniel Alexander Payne, Henry McNeal Turner, Amanda Berry Smith and Reverdy Cassius Ransom had been rediscovered, renewed and reused. Sadly, the false A.M.E. system was flexible enough to expend just enough to accommodate the reformists within the system. In 1988, these principles of spiritual renewal, social, reform, political and economic empowerment were appropriated by pastors and churches outside of African Methodism. Carlton Pearson, Creflo Dollar, Paul Morton, T.D. Jakes, Juanita Bynum, and Eddie L. Long used these same principles to build independent movements that have radically altered the face of the church throughout the world.

The chains of conformity reached out and a new generation of A.M.E. reformers discovered that instead of leading change, we had been led into chains. The "new" reformers had been tricked by the lie that you had to be in the system to change the system. The leader of this false system, Satan, made a clever and seductive offer. After showing the reformers popularity, wealth, political power, a multi-million dollar budget and buildings, he made a deal: All this authority I will give you, and their glory, for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if you worship before me, all will be yours. Tragically, many of us believed this lie! The system got stronger, the bureaucracy got bolder and the chains of conformity got stronger. African Methodism, as a denomination, was one step closer to being renamed Ichabod - the glory has departed!

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In his book "Up From Slavery," Booker T. Washington described the immediate reaction of the anti-bellum slaves to the announcement that they were free. Washington clearly shows that there is a high price to be paid for freedom because behind the blessing of rejoicing comes the burden of responsibility.

The wild rejoicing on the part of the emancipated colored people lasted but for a brief period. I noticed that by the time they returned to their cabins there was a change in their feelings. The great responsibility of being free, of having charge of themselves, of having to think and plan for themselves and their children seemed to take precedence. It was very much like suddenly forcing a youth of 10 or 12 years out into the world to provide for himself. In a few hours, the great questions had been thrown upon these people to be solved. These were the questions of a home, a living, the rearing of children, education, citizenship, and the establishment and support of churches. Gradually, one by one, beginning with the eldest, slaves began to wander from the slave quarters back to the "big house" to have a whispered conversation with their former owners as to their future.

In 1787, Richard Allen and a group of freed men and women created the foundation of the A.M.E. Church - The Free African Society. It was The Free African Society that put together a mission and method to answer the great questions that Washington described. It should be noted that Allen and his colleagues did this almost 100 years before Washington wrote "Up From Slavery."

In 1816, Richard Allen and other independent African Methodist met to create a denomination whose mission was to set the captives free (Luke 4:18) and equip an oppressed people to live the abundant life in Christ (John 10:10). Our mission has not changed! Our methods must change or become our chains! We are called to be faithful to our real mission and flexible in our methods. We are called to make these revolutionary changes fast or die in our modern mediocrity.

Are you chained or changed?

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III. It's Not Too Late To Be Great!

Thus says the Lord of hosts: consider your ways. (Haggai 1:7) Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over. (Haggai 1:7 - The Message Bible)

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, says the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2:9)

This temple is going to end up far better than it started out, a glorious beginning but an even more glorious finish; a place in which I will hand out wholeness and holiness. (Haggai 2:9 - The Message Bible)

The first church that I was assigned to in the United States was called Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church. It was, at that time, the only A.M.E. Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Yet, I knew that the name Greater Bethel was prophetic in many ways. Today, 24 years after I left Charlotte, I am clear about the God-given purpose, meaning and mission in the name Greater Bethel.

For the first generation of African American church builders and planters, the name Bethel is very important. Bethel, the House of God in Hebrew, is a place of divine presence, power and promise (Genesis 28:12-15). Bethel is a place of transformation, it is the gateway to heaven on earth (Genesis 28:16-17). At Bethel, God's covenant is continued and a person's commitment to God is made. At Bethel, a person is equipped and released with a powerful faith that builds strong families and communities.

Because of the important meaning of Bethel in the African-American spiritual consciousness, you will find churches named Bethel in almost every city, state and rural area of America. While churches across denominational lines have used the name Bethel, the A.M.E. Church really is a Bethel movement. A movement that believed that God's House had everything in it that was needed to heal people from the wounds of slavery and create a healthy, happy, free and prosperous community.

Yet, there is another Bethel story in the Bible. This Bethel is not the House of God! The Bethel of Jeroboam was born out of disobedience to God, a desire to please the people, a manipulating spirit and a political agenda that left God out (I Kings 12:26-33).

Jeroboam's own insecurity led him to build a house of worship in God's name for Jeroboam's own political, social and economic purposes. Listen clearly to what was done: This was blatant sin. Jeroboam built forbidden shrines all over the place and recruited priests from wherever he could find them, regardless of whether they fit the job or not. To top it off, he created a holy New Year festival to be held on the 15th day of the

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eighth month to replace the one in Judah, complete with worship offered on the Altar of Bethel and sacrificing before the calves he had set up there. He staffed Bethel with priests from the local shrine he had made. This was strictly his own idea to compete with the feast in Judah (I King 12:30-33 - The Message Bible).

Bethel, the House of God's presence, praise, prayers, power and peace became a House of politics, pathologies, parasites, pimps and powerlessness. In the new millennium, the A.M.E. Church must choose between the Bethel of Jacob and the Bethel of Jeroboam. The Bethel of Jeroboam has been in control too long. It's time to return to the greatness that is given to all God's people in God's House.

Recently, I bought a bookmark with the following quote from George Eliot: It is never too late to be what you might have been. It is not too late for the A.M.E. Church to fulfill its mission to do greater things (John 14:12-14). It's not too late to be great!

It is at this point that the words of the prophet Haggai are essential in our attempt to reverse the cycle of dysfunction and destruction in African Methodism. Haggai gives us clear insight into how the false religious system stays in power. Then he gives us positive and practical principles that will dismantle the world's false religious system and develop the Word's process of great achievements.

Haggai, speaking on God's behalf, declares: This people say, the time has not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built. The false religious system is always self-centered and never God in Christ centered. This spirit of selfishness creates a culture of passivity and procrastination. This non-productive culture thrives on excuses like "it's not time" and "let's do it later."

God's prophet confronts the people and their leaders with the results of their selfish choices: Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this house to be in ruins? Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm, and he who earns wages, earns wages to be put in a bag with holes. Thus says the Lord of hosts, consider your ways… Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified, says the Lord (Haggai 1:3-9).

The purpose of the A.M.E. Church is to glorify God by equipping people to live liberated lives of faith and freedom. When we refuse to glorify God through our work and worship, we miss God's purpose, provision and prosperity:

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You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the Lord of hosts Because of my house that is in ruins, while everyone of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withholds the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought in the land … and on all the labor of your hands. (Haggai 1:9-11)

Yes, there are individual A.M.E. congregations that have done good things, but God has called us to do great things NOW!

In Chapter 2, God tells Haggai to encourage the leaders. The prophet gives them a realistic appraisal of their present condition when compared to their past greatness. Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes nothing?

There are books, magazines and newspapers that remind us African Methodism's former glory. How do you see our present condition? Compared to what we were, "is this not in your eyes nothing?"

Haggai then encourages the leaders and the people to "be strong and work." (Haggai 2:4) Then God promises the people divine presence, divine provision, divine prosperity, divine protection and divine power to complete the work. (Haggai 2:5-8) It is, however, this declaration of restored greater greatness that should give us all the strength to break the chains and change:

The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former. (Haggai 2:9)

Are you ready to be great?

Are you ready to pay the price for greatness?

Are you ready to lead a revolution of greatness?

Let's do it!

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IV. You Got Served!

I see what you've done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can't stomach evil. I know your persistence; your courage is my cause, that you never wear out.

But you walked away from your first love. Why? What's going on with You, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you have fallen? A Lucifer fall!

Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I'm well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle. (Revelation 2:2-5, The Message Bible)

African Methodism is filled with some of the most loving and loyal people in the world. They love their church completely! Yes, there are good people in leadership and membership who have done good things. I believe that even the people who have been seduced by Satan's system started out with good intentions.

I am not attacking people who have done and are doing the best they can with what they have. I am attacking a demonic slave creating system that masquerades, misinforms, mis-educates and misuses people in the name of African Methodism: Remember, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

For most of this essay, I have talked about the obstacles that have struck down African Methodism's passionate pursuit of God's glory and greatness. If the General Conference of 2004 does not make some radical changes, I believe that African Methodism will be paralyzed from 2004-2008 and will be dead by 2012. (I do not doubt that this denomination will exist, but our growth, our positive impact and influence will be dead). But the opportunities that are before us are an open door to glory and greatness forever. (Matthew 6:13b)

While I disagree with many of Dinesh D'Souza's assumptions in "The End of Racism," his last paragraph is on point:

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Black success and social acceptance now are both tied to rebuilding the African-American community. If blacks can achieve such a cultural renaissance, they will teach other Americans a valuable lesson in civilizational restoration. Thus, they could vindicate both Booker T. Washington's project of cultural empowerment and DuBois' hope for a unique African-American "message" to the world. Even more, it will be blacks themselves who will finally discredit racism, solve the American dilemma. (p. 55)

D'Souza's quote is very similar to one written 60 years before, 1935, by the eminent African-American historian, Charles H. Wesley:

From the religious point of view, the African Methodist Episcopal Church had given answers to the problem of the Negro's capacity for organization and leadership. This principle slowly worked its way into every field of Negro life, until Negroes begun to believe they could lead themselves as effectively as white men could lead them -- in fact, that they might, even though they were Negroes, point the way for all Americans as well as themselves. (p. 266 - Richard Allen, Apostle of Freedom)

In the new millennium, we have opportunities to move the world community from slavery to human pathologies to freedom and power in Christ. The de-radicalized A.M.E. can become the revolutionary church of Christ that Allen and others envisioned and modeled.

If we remember how far we have fallen, repent and do the first works, the Lord would do miraculous things in and through the A.M.E. Church. God has served African Methodism with a divine mandate to prosper or perish!

To prosper, we must bring Biblical methods and commandments back as the foundations of our ecclesiology and theology!

To prosper, we must let go of our ultra liberal theology, and revive a theology that is relational, renewing, restorative and reviving!

To prosper, we must immediately restructure our Episcopal districts for excellence through efficiency and effectiveness!

To prosper, we must change the process by which we elect our Bishops and General Officers!

To prosper, we must allow our Bishops to Pastor!

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To prosper, we must get rid of District bridges and develop an economic plan of prosperity that will benefit first local congregations and then the connection.

To prosper, we must revitalize our conference system, i.e. Quarterly Conference, District Conference, Annual Conference and General Conference; for maximum growth in membership, new churches created and finance.

To prosper, we must develop a multimedia/technology strategy that develops the A.M.E. brand into a world-class, household name synonymous with excellence.

To prosper, we must destroy the divide and conquer competitiveness of the past and rebuild a connectional spirit that will bring economic, political, social and cultural power to all A.M.E. Churches.

To prosper, we must begin to bridge the digital divide to equip people for the new jobs in the new economy.

To prosper, we must create wealth for our members and leaders.

To prosper, and make the changes that will please God, we must be faithful, flexible and fast.

Only prayer and fasting will keep us on the leading edge of Kingdom-building faithfully.

Let's Start A Revolution!

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