Rev. Millard Southern of Allen Chapel AME in Kalamazoo shares how his congregation has overcome challenges and is poised to take proactive steps towards environmental justice. We are thrilled to work with Allen Chapel AME and Rev. Southern as they participate in the Sacred Spaces program.
Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest and first AME church in Kalamazoo, founded in 1855.
Rev. Southern, what can you tell us about Allen Chapel AME?
Founded in 1855, Allen Chapel AME Church in Kalamazoo, has stood as a major institution of faith in Western Michigan. Its longstanding history of community engagement, social activism, and unprecedented political, economic, and spiritual leadership testifies to its resiliency as the center of religious activities for its community. While the congregation has achieved remarkable successes since its inception, it has experienced numerous challenges which threaten the health of the community it serves. These challenges have led to potentially erasing valuable history and silencing the past. But the building itself continues to stands as a testament to the faithful commitment of its members in the face of adversity. Our strong position is evidenced by architectural richness, cultural significance, and community impact. Therefore, preserving our historic building with a vibrant history will serve to strengthen the entire community. A restored building with a space for cultural artifacts offers a monumental chance to empower others while also working together for the common good. We are well positioned to demonstrate remarkable historical value which will show our young people an example of unity and hope.
What is your congregation's spiritual or religious inspiration for practicing earth stewardship?
Our community has been affected by generations and generations of practices that have harmed the environment. Because of a lack of information and access to resources we have witnessed harmful practices take place in our most cherished communities. However, due to increasing awareness of these issues and a determination to see a greater future, we are fueled by a passion to transform our church and community. Now is the time to come together. Now is the time to change our world. Now is the time to speak up and let our voices be heard!
How do you understand environmental justice?
Environmental justice is a spiritual responsibility for all households of faith. As good stewards of God's kingdom, we must take care of our communities and each other.
What’s one key take away that you hope your congregation and/or community gains from your participation in Sacred Spaces?
We want to inspire other households of faith to take proactive steps towards advocating for environmental justice. All households of faith can do their part to ensure that we maintain a healthy, sustainable, energy-efficient community. We are all united by a common bond, and our efforts whether good or bad, affect all. No one person can do the work alone. But we can work together to strive for a better world for our children and children's children. A better world is possible and we must ensure that a more equitable future is on the horizon for generations to come.
No one person can do the work alone. But we can work together to strive for a better world for our children and children's children.
Michigan IPL would like to echo the thoughts of Rev. Southern, as he states that "we can work together to strive for a better world for our children and children's children." We are thankful to work with this congregation as they participate in the Sacred Spaces program.