From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Elisha and Minneapolis church listen for oil, pastor tells Black Presbyterian Caucus

Date 20 Jun 2002 14:38:20 -0400

Note #7301 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


Elisha and Minneapolis church listen for oil, pastor tells Black Presbyterian Caucus

by Frank Buhrman

COLUMBUS, OH - An inner city church in Minneapolis is following in the steps of Elisha and "listening for oil," its pastor told attendees at the National Black Presbyterian Caucus Dinner Wednesday during the 214th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The Rev. Dr. Ralph E. Galloway used the story of Elisha and the widow's oil from II Kings to illustrate the work at Kwanzaa Community Church, a new church development in the Hawthorne-Jordan neighborhoods in Minneapolis.  He characterized Kwanzaa as "a church where faith and community meet in love."

Like Elisha, Galloway said, Kwanzaa has a "passionate presence" to those around it.

"Any church working in an urban neighborhood must exercise a passionate presence," he said.  "Our doors are open, and we invite our neighbors in, and we walk through those doors to our neighbors.  That passionate presence fosters a spiritual energy, and that spiritual energy fosters passionate presence."

Like Elisha, Galloway said, Kwanzaa is there to hear.

"We want to be purposeful listeners," he said, adding that Elisha "went deeper" and "didn't co-dependent" the woman.  Kwanzaa does not just offer recovery programs, but programs "that seek to reclaim who you are."

Galloway related the story of taking a poll among young people asking what they wanted.  Along with bringing back dead friends and family, erecting fences to keep out bad people and having more churches, the respondents asked for "beautiful places," so Kwanzaa created a garden next to the church building.

"We could hear the oil flowing," he said.

"These listening skills are the same ones that hear the word of God.  We attempt to be a listening congregation at Kwanzaa."

Galloway and his wife, the Rev. Alika Galloway, have been co-pastors of Kwanzaa since 1997 (the church was chartered earlier this year as the first African American Presbyterian congregation in Minnesota).  Now, he said, the church is moving toward strategic planning.

"Because Elisha was present, because he could listen," Galloway said, "he could strategically empower."  Even those who say, "we have nothing," who feel they have nothing, will eventually say "except," as the widow did to Elisha:  "Your servant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil." (II Kings 4:2)

"Listen for the exceptions," he said, "but we can't hear the exceptions unless we're present, and unless were purposefully listening, right there on the spot.

"There is some oil percolating."

Galloway is a Minneapolis native who earned his M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary.  He has been a community organizer in Atlanta and Minneapolis and also was pastor of a church in Wilson, N.C.

The caucus dinner also featured the music of Linda Millsaps Jones, accompanied by G. Steve Taylor.  Recognition was given to various caucus officials, governing body staff members and others attending the annual event.
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