(L-R) Dr. Jeffries Leonard, Sister Rev. Dr. Eleanor Moody-Shepherd and the Rev. Dr. Derrick Shahem Johnson Sr. (Daleel Jabir Muhammad photo)

The Black Liberation Church held its inaugural worship service at the Historic Riverside Church on Dec. 2, led by Harlem native the Rev. Dr. Derrick Shahem Johnson Sr. The mission of the newly formed church is to be an epicenter of spiritual development while serving as a community resource and empowerment zone in West Harlem for Black men, women, children and families. 

Johnson’s message of representing Christ in the 21st century dealt with connecting Yeshua/Jesus based on Egyptian culture, not the Greek understanding and meaning of the name. Giving praise to Marcus Mosiah Garvey for his works and famous quote of “Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men,” Johnson recalled how the United African Movement (U.A.M.), led by attorney Alton Maddox Jr., instilled positivity in him when growing up in New York with the African affirmation: “We will honor the struggles of our elders and strive to bring new values and new life to our people.” 

Johnson also recalled being inspired by the Rev. C. Vernon Mason, the Rev. Clemson Brown, and the scholar and historian Dr. Leonard Jeffries when he was growing up in the village of Harlem as a youth leader. 

“My aim is to bring social justice with a global impact to effect positive changes in the community,” Johnson said. “At The Black Liberation Church, you will receive the logic and the reasoning of God from the scriptures.” 

On deck were Rosalind and Leonard Jeffries, who received the first two Legacy Awards in their names for their lifelong work in academia and the advancement of Pan-African culture throughout the world. Sister Reverend Dr. Eleanor Moody-Shepherd was honored by receiving the first Queen Mother Award for her works in the New York Theological Seminary and her international study seminars in Africa and other parts of the world, including the Holy Land. 

Johnson said that his ministry in the Black Liberation Church is a Bible-based, Christ-centered church rooted in Afrocentricity. “We approach the Bible through the lens of a Black Social Theory [that] affirms Black people’s connection and relationship to their ancestors in the holy scriptures of the Bible,” he said. 

For more information, go to www.blackliberationchurch.org.

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