The Rev. Barry Black, chaplain of the U.S. Senate, told a group of District of Columbia faith and community leaders that humility is important to serve people and God. Black was the keynote speaker for the Ward 8 Faith Leaders Network Breakfast on Dec. 9 at the Matthews Memorial Baptist Church.

The Rev. Barry Black, chaplain of the U.S. Senate, recently told a group of D.C. faith leaders to be humble. (Courtesy photo)

“We must choose: be humble or stumble. We have to be honest about ourselves, Black-on-Black crime,” said Black, who added that while he grew up on welfare and surrounded by gangs in Baltimore, there was a woman who took him into her home and served him hot meals. Black said, during his 45-minute address, whatever people do, they should do it with humility.

The event was sponsored by the Anacostia Coordinating Council, an organization focusing on the revitalization of Anacostia and its adjacent neighborhoods; the East of the River Clergy Police Community Partnership, an organization focusing on community wellness and public safety; and the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, which works on building the Ward 8 community. Black was introduced by the Rev. Donald Isaac, chairman of the Ward 8 Faith Leaders Network.

The theme of the program was the title of one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s books, “Where Do We Go From Here – Chaos or Community.” But, Black focused on being spiritually low before God and others.

Black, a native of Baltimore, became the 62nd chaplain of the U.S. Senate on June 27, 2003. Before becoming a chaplain on Capitol Hill, he served in the U.S. Navy for more than 27 years, rising to become an admiral, and was known as the chief of the Navy Chaplains.

With his appointment, Black became the first Black, Seventh Day Adventist chaplain. He was also the first military chaplain to get the post. His duty is to minister to the 6,000 people who work in the Senate as lawmakers, staffers, or their spouses.

Even though Republicans control Congress and have been pushing a conservative agenda, Black said he remains “optimistic,” about the future on Capitol Hill because he convenes a weekly bi-partisan group of lawmakers who have Bible study together and pray.

“How you travel is just as important as your destination,” Black said.  “Be humble or stumble. Pride goes before destruction . . . nonviolent, direct action is a humble approach, it’s not a suicide approach.”

Philip Pannell, interim chairman of the board and the executive director of the Anacostia Coordinating Council, told the AFRO: “We asked him to focus on the theme of Dr. King’s last book and he did that… Barry talked briefly about how good it is Black churches in Southeast are trying to stay in the city instead of going out to the suburbs and how important it was that the faith leaders reach out to young people, saying that if they did, fewer of them would get in trouble with the criminal justice system.”