Fa­ther-son tag team preach Fa­ther's Day mes­sage

South Florida Times - - PRAYERFUL LIVING - By ADELLE M.BANKS Cour­tesy of Re­li­gion News Ser­vice How did you start tag-team preach­ing? Son: And, Rev. Moss Jr., you ac­cepted this idea? Fa­ther: Rev. Moss III, what is your first rec­ol­lec­tion of see­ing your fa­ther preach and did you think early on that

About 15 years ago, the Rev. Otis Moss III in­vited his fa­ther, the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., to tagteam preach with him on Fa­ther’s Day. The tra­di­tion be­gan at Taber­na­cle Bap­tist Church in Au­gusta, Ga., and shifted when the 46-year-old preacher trans­ferred to Chicago’s Trin­ity United Church of Christ.His fa­ther, 82, pas­tor emer­i­tus of Olivet In­sti­tu­tional Bap­tist Church in Cleve­land, is a civil rights vet­eran who marched in the 1960s with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

RNS spoke to both fa­ther and son, whose churches are pre­dom­i­nantly African Amer­i­can, about their tag-team preach­ing, the state of the black church and what it means to pass the ba­ton from one to the other.

The in­ter­view has been edited for length and clar­ity. I wit­nessed other min­is­ters do a tag-team mes­sage in a very dif­fer­ent vein, a hus­band and wife tag team for their mar­ried cou­ples min­istry in the ’90s. That was the first time I heard or wit­nessed a tag-team mes­sage. And it was my ini­tial idea to cre­ate a tag mes­sage for a fa­ther and a son — not two dif­fer­ent mes­sages but one mes­sage preached by two dif­fer­ent peo­ple.

With en­thu­si­asm. I was fa­mil­iar with dual pre­sen­ta­tions to­gether but I had not par­tic­i­pated in the true tag team where you carry in a di­a­log­i­cal way the mes­sage be­tween the two in­di­vid­u­als.

Son: I had the op­por­tu­nity to hear him ev­ery Sun­day. It was a part of my child­hood grow­ing up wit­ness­ing my fa­ther preach not just in church but at con­ven­tions, re­vivals, spe­cial pro­grams across the na­tion. I had great re­spect and love for the African Amer­i­can homilet­i­cal tra­di­tion,re­spect at a level where I never would have even thought, early on, that I would be able to stand in a pul­pit and com­mu­ni­cate at the level my fa­ther com­mu­ni­cates Sun­day to Sun­day or the level of the in­di­vid­u­als my fa­ther brought to the pul­pit — Gard­ner C. Tay­lor, Wy­att Tee Walker,Carolyn Knight,Bishop Vashti McKen­zie and many oth­ers.

I did. I was called to the min­istry dur­ing my time pe­riod at More­house Col­lege. My fo­cus was not the pas­toral min­istry but me­dia, cin­e­matog­ra­phy, some form of ac­tivism.I had a great re­spect for the church. I al­ways knew that I would be a part of a church fam­ily but I never en­vi­sioned I would be lead­ing a church. My deep­est, long­est and pro­found memory is the time he did our Youth Day at Olivet In­sti­tu­tional Bap­tist Church in Cleve­land. He was about 15 years old and was the youngest Youth Day speaker for the 11 o’clock wor­ship.And he did, I must say, a ter­rific job. It was at that mo­ment that I felt an in­ner some­thing that said, you haven’t heard the last of this. His deco­rum, his nat­u­ral­ness with his de­liv­ery, was be­yond ex­pec­ta­tion. What is your sense of the state of the black church from your per­spec­tive as pas­tors, one more in the 21st cen­tury and the other in the pre­vi­ous one? Do you think its work has changed from one gen­er­a­tion to the next?

The ne­ces­sity of the black church, the African Amer­i­can church, I think is con­tin­u­ing and com­pelling. We in my gen­er­a­tion de­pended on the de­liv­ery of the Word from the in­di­vid­ual but we did not take ad­van­tage of all of the tech­nol­ogy that was be­com­ing big. I think in this age we must uti­lize all of the tech­nol­ogy plus imag­i­na­tion and all of the equip­ment that’s avail­able to us to com­muni- On a less se­ri­ous note, the son seems to pre­fer bow ties and the fa­ther wears reg­u­lar ones.

You might be in­ter­ested in know­ing that about 70 years ago, I wore bow ties and it was quite in style. And then I went from the bow tie to the string tie and of course I wear a bow tie now on spe­cial oc­ca­sions.But my son has taken it to a dif­fer­ent level.I used bow ties that were al­ready tied. You know, the clip-ons.

I de­vel­oped a love for bow ties at More­house Col­lege. I only had one suit and I was not a suit wearer. I pushed against wear­ing what I con­sid­ered to be cor­po­rate uni­forms. When I wit­nessed brothers at More­house wear­ing a bow tie, this was, at the mo­ment, a way for me to rebel. Also, hav­ing a bow tie and reg­u­lar tie would look like I was wear­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent.

I don’t think so. In my be­gin­ning years, re­ally as a youth, I started in the civil rights move­ment as a so­lic­i­tor for NAACP mem­ber­ship in the days when in cer­tain parts of the coun­try be­ing a mem­ber of the NAACP was dan­ger­ous. That ac­tivism has been a part of our fam­ily and Otis III has in­her­ited a fam­ily with a tra­di­tion of ac­tivism, but he has not rested on our legacy or our In the mid­dle of a ser­mon you jointly preached ti­tled “Prophetic Grief,”about the Emanuel African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church tragedy, the fa­ther turned to the son and ver­bally passed the torch, ask­ing him to speak to and for the next gen­er­a­tion.What is it like for each of you to have the min­istry of preach­ing passed from one to the other?

No tree tries to hold onto last year’s leaves and fruit. You give it away and hope that the ground,the at­mos­phere will take it and make bet­ter fruit for the next sea­son and the com­ing gen­er­a­tion. I think we ought to preach, teach and prac­tice that and we should not be threat­ened by the next gen­er­a­tion do­ing a bet­ter job than we have done.We ought to cheer them on,en­cour­age them and give to them,with all of our frail­ties and fal­li­bil­i­ties and mis­takes and flaws.We ought to try to pass on some­thing that is wor­thy to be re­ceived but also some­thing that they can take and do a bet­ter job.

There is no greater call and priv­i­lege than when you reach a space where you have the op­por­tu­nity to move from player in the game to coach of the game. Be­ing a player has a de­gree of glory but there is noth­ing greater than hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to coach a team. My fa­ther is in that po­si­tion of be­ing a coach and I hope to be, and struc­ture my min­istry, where I will have the op­por­tu­nity to coach play­ers in the game of life and min­istry.


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