Another church burns in the still of the night. While the burning of a church is often a heart-breakingly blatant act of disrespect, it also shines light on an almost forgotten significance: the role the Black church plays in its community.

We all know that hate groups have burned crosses and churches, although we may not know why.  It is said that Klan Christians' burning of the cross is not destroying it but "lighting" it, as a symbol of faith. Of course, this is not the motive behind the burning of churches, especially in the South, when done by arsonists.  These burnings stem from hatred, an attempt to destroy the structures around which Black communities are centered.

The church teaches its congregants not only of unconditional love, grace, mercy, and salvation but it also takes a historical text and uses similes to apply concepts to our lives today.  The church gives us hope, strength, and courage to do things we might have previously seen as impossible. It helps us to overcome adversities, to improve upon our personal lives as well as our communities.

It is a regular complaint that "we have a church on every corner." This may be true, and to some, it may appear as a separation of power. However, most churches are composed of like-minded individuals who are either following a leader they believe to be inspired by God or a leader they believe to have a mission that directly addresses a need that appears to go under-served, the fulfilling of a purpose.

So, it is important to note that while the burning of a church at the hands of arsonists is intended to ultimately destroy or deter the community the church serves, we should take note of the Christian Klan's symbolism.  We know that the church is the people, not the structure. Though they may burn the building to the ground, the act is merely illuminating our faith, our unity, and our resilience. Never has the burning of a church caused its members to dissemble, to give up, or to concede.  In fact, it usually unifies not only the church but also the community it serves, as well as other churches. The burning of a church does not shake the faith of its people.  If anything, it stirs the fires that may have been burning out and reignites the people.  Sure, it may cause temporary feelings of frustration, maybe even hatred, and may pose a financial strain in terms of rebuilding; but what it does NOT do is the one thing it is intended to do: send its congregants and community into feelings of despair. If anything, it fortifies us. Still, we rise!

"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." Job 13:15

(Note: Last night's fire at the Mount Zion AME church in Greeleyville, SC was determined to be an act of God. However, it was the latest in a string of burnings; not all were caused by the weather or structural compromise.)