WESTFIELD — Chestnut Ridge Primitive Progressive Baptist Church held its annual 100 Men In Black service Sunday as part of Black History Month’s activities. The church was packed for the 3 p.m. service which featured the singing groups Family Five and the Faithful Travelers. A procession of 51 men dressed in black suits opened the spirited service.
According to Church Deacon Rick Mitchell, this is the eighth year the event has been held and its goal is to inspire more involvement from men in church services. Brother Angelo Cokley and Wayvell McArthur’s opening devotional talk noted that all worshippers “have some ups and downs and difficult situations.” The two prayed for guidance from God for those assembled in conducting themselves so the light (faith) would so shine before men that their actions would lead others to Christ.
Mitchell also spoke to the audience and characterized the 100 Men in Black program as a chance for “men to step out and step up” on behalf of the church. He also praised the efforts of women for supporting and contributing to churches everywhere.
The problem of men being “few in the pews” has been a recurring topic among Christian churches. Author David Murrow of the Christian Broadcasting Network summed the situation up as a case of culture establishing an “ideology of masculinity” which has replaced Christianity. Murrow later revised his book, “Why Men Hate To Go to Church,” and included strategies for small churches to increase male participation.
The website ChurchforMen.com indicates the typical congregation in the United States draws an adult crowd that is 61 percent female and 39 percent male with this gender gap consistent among all age categories. The site also reports that on Sundays, almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands with a majority of employees in churches being women, except for ordained clergy.
This site predicts 70 percent of boys raised in church will abandon church during their teens and 20s. The site reports more than 90 percent of American men believe in God with five out of six calling themselves Christians but only one of six attending church on a given Sunday.
Family Five from Bassett, Va., was the first group to perform at the service. Singer LouAndrea Young gave a testimony to the group talking about her memories when she was baptized.
“I wish I could tell the whole story about where He (God) brought us from,” said Young. “I thank God I’m here to give Him a little praise. All you have to do is trust in Him.” Young and her family members then sang the song “God Is Able.” Young’s son, Jamar Tyree, called the congregation to not look backwards but consider “in your current state” what God can do for them. Tyree said God never leaves people but people often leave Him.
Deacon Dennis France, who also served as emcee for the ceremony, commented on the singing of the group afterwards.
“I know my heart was touched today by the singing they did,” said France. “God has been in the house already. It’s a blessing to hear good singing that carries a blessing with it.”
Next Lloyd France Jr. gave a passionate testimony where he witnessed about God’s power sustaining him through 24 operations which included two kidney transplants.
“A lot of people just quit. They just say I’m done but praise the Lord he ( Lloyd France) didn’t,” added Dennis France.
The next group performing in the service was the Faithful Travelers from Martinsville, Va. Singer Tomeka Robinson remarked about how it is always a blessing when different churches come together in unity and harmony.
“It’s just important to live according to the will of God,” said Robinson. “If you live but an hour, you have a testimony. Life is but a vapor. You’re here today and you’re gone today. Don’t take life for granted. Don’t take God for granted. We need to teach our children (about God). Since we last met, how many babies have been shot down. We know the Lord is coming back and the Devil is busy.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1952.