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Upon This Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church.



Samuel G. Freedman's portrait of St. Paul's Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, Upon This Rock. The Miracles of a Black Church, is a chronicle of journeys. Through troubled waters. Through muck and mud, Through earthly hells. Destination? Love, courage and hope.

The principal journey recounted is that of the church's pastor, Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood. With great sensitivity and grace, Freedman delineates Youngblood's evolution, beginning with the New Orleans boy preacher working out his "own salvation with fear and trembling" - not of God, but of the tyrannical leader of the Spiritualist church to which he belonged. And we encounter Youngblood in his current role of a maverick Baptist minister, under whose leadership St. Paul's grew from an 84-person monument to stagnation into a progressive 5,000-member beacon in the midst of urban decay.

Freedman also tells of two very profound metamorphoses of Youngblood the man. First, he publicly acknowledged a son born out of wedlock whom he had denied for years. Second, he reconciled with his father, whom he had grown up with but had never really known or loved.

Interspersed with the story of Youngblood's spiritual, emotional and intellectual journeys are accounts of the tribulations and triumphs of his congregants. Most memorable are the stories of the mentally challenged young man striving for an independent and more abundant life and the recovering drug addict who became the shepherd of the church's support group for substance abusers.

The struggles and victories of the St. Paul Community Baptist Church, its pastor and its parishioners is a story worth telling. The fact that it is so eloquently and captivatingly rendered makes Upon This Rock all the more a worthwhile read and inspiration.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Bolden, Tonya
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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