Rev. Raphael Warnock took to the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church on Sunday (Jan. 10) for the first time since winning the U.S. Senate runoff last week, celebrated his victory but remarked that it comes during the shadow of a grim period for the nation.
“Whoever would have thought that, in Georgia, we would see the people rise up and send an African American man who grew up in public housing, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King preached, and a Jewish young man, the son of an immigrant, to the United States Senate,” Warnock said in a live stream from the church. “I’m grateful to be a part of this...I want to be a prism of God’s glory.
“Georgia had elected its first Black senator and its first Jewish senator,” he continued. “Then, as we were basking in the glory of all that represented, it seemed like we could only have a few hours to celebrate. Just as we were trying to put on our celebration shoes, the ugly side of our story — our great and grand American story — began to emerge as the crude, the angry, the disrespectful, and the violent broke their way into the people’s house, some carrying Confederate flags, signs, and symbols of an old world order passing away.”
Warnock was referring to the violent attack by supporters of Donald Trump, angered over baseless claims of a stolen election, storming and ransacking the building, causing the deaths of five people, including a U.S. Capitol police officer.
He and Jon Ossoff, who defeated incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue last week, are now tasked with moving a legislative agenda forward in the wake of unprecedented mob violence in the seat of the nation’s government.
The violent insurrection overshadowed Warnock and Ossoff’s victory, focusing the nation’s attention on how it could have happened and on Trump, who is broadly being accused of inciting the riot through the rhetoric he has spouted since his November election loss.
Warnock didn’t focus mainly on Trump in his sermon, but other clergy did. Pastor Jamal Bryant of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., for example, sharply criticized the president and his motives.
“He triggered white supremacists to use the power of intimidation. He rallied local principalities to invoke the power of suppression. He galvanized the entire party to use the power of collusion. He hypnotized the conservative media with the power of saturated marketing,” Bryant told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And still, none of this worked,” Bryant said. “With all of that power, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris will still be sworn in on January 20th.”
Rev. Andy Stanley, with North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, concurred with Bryant saying faith should come before political leanings.
“The ‘Christians’ who stormed the U.S. Capitol building clearly failed to do that,” Stanley told the AJC. “And the pastors and Christian leaders who’ve joined with politicians on either side in the demonization of people on the other side or other party, regardless of which party they’re demonizing, they have failed that test as well.”
When U.S. Senators Warnock and Ossoff are sworn into office, the chamber will be 50-50, leaving incoming Vice President-elect Kamala Harris with the tie-breaking vote. The House of Representatives is already under Democratic Party control.
In his sermon, Warnock said he is already prepared for what’s ahead, knowing what has already taken place.
“There is both victory in this moment; there is violence in this moment,” he said. “There is fantastic opportunity and fierce opposition and it reminds us that there is still a whole lot of work to do.”
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