Senate Chaplain Barry Black Challenges Listeners to "Endure Suffering Like A Fighter"

Posted on Jun 13 2019

Against a colorful backdrop of military flags and pageantry, the Riverside Kansas Avenue church staged its 26th annual Armed Forces Day on Sabbath, May 25.  Military veterans and local dignitaries were among the hundreds of worshipers, including a contingent of Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military pilots in the segregated U.S. Army Air Corps who fought in World War II.

In addition to special recognitions and patriotic music, the crowd was most anxious to listen to Barry Black, U.S. Senate Chaplain who commended the church and William Howe, Armed Forces Committee Chairman USAF LTC (ret.) for presenting “the best Armed Forces Day celebration anywhere.” Black is the Senate’s 62nd chaplain, elected in 2003, making him the first African-American and first Adventist to hold this position.

As a prelude to his sermon titled Endure Suffering Like a Fighter, Black paid personal homage to the Tuskegee Airmen, thanking them for their distinguished service despite having to endure the inequities and hardships of a segregated military.

In his sermon, Black challenged worshipers to heed Jeremiah’s warning to prepare now for more troubling times ahead: "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jer. 12:5, NIV)

In preparation for the end times, Black urged everyone, as “chosen soldiers of Christ,” to allow God’s Spirit to “train you in righteousness and obedience, in laying aside anything that weighs you down, and in doing all to the glory of our Commanding Officer.”

One of the highlights of the service was the recognition of civilian and military honorees including: Barry Black, Speaker Award; Eddie Jackson, Community Service Award; Ronald Stephens, retired Purple Heart Army veteran, Military Award; J.C. Alexander, 97, Army MSgt., Appreciation Award; and Clarice Sykes, Army Specialist, Military Award, who survived a devastating accident last year that resulted in both of her legs being amputated. With prosthetics, she walked to the pulpit to accept the award from her father, Ben.

“It is a privilege for us to host Armed Forces Day at Kansas Avenue,” said Ainsworth K. Morris, senior pastor. “This is our opportunity to celebrate and express our profound appreciation to both veterans and active-duty personnel for their loyalty, bravery, and sacrifice to protect our country and our freedoms.”

By Clarence Brown