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Upon This Rock : The Miracles of a Black Church Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (February 16, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060924594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060924591
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With the scope and grace of a master storyteller, Freedman ( Small Victories ) offers an indelible portrait of a New York City institution: St. Paul Community Baptist Church, an oasis in a blighted section of Brooklyn, led by the dynamic Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood. Granted unrestricted access to Youngblood and his self-described "church unusual," Freedman writes movingly of struggles and dramas: the twice-reformed drug addict who leads the "Wounded Healers" support group and who has taken an African name, Osei, meaning "Serious"; the indomitable grandmother who gives shelter to cast-off children; the sole white congregant, whose sense of mission grows deeper over time. Freedman writes almost cinematically when he describes the church services and, in one chapter, intercuts two sensitive stories: a marriage counseling session and an internal church investigation of child abuse. Freedman also writes thoughtfully about Youngblood's theology, the church's history and its prominent political role in New York, building nearly 2300 one-family homes in a project known as Nehemiah. Youngblood, little known outside Brooklyn, is an intriguing character who has traveled--geographically, philosophically and theologically. He has a vision for his church and community, yet has his own crosses to bear. Freedman captures the minister's touching reconciliations with his son born out of wedlock and with his own long-estranged father. If there is a quibble, it is that the white author, who gets so close to his black subjects, himself remains an enigma. Nonetheless, this stunning book has much to say about religion and race, cities and change, community and faith. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; BOMC alternate; author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The Saint Paul Community Baptist Church of East New York shines like a beacon of hope within a Brooklyn urban wasteland. Its fervent, charismatic pastor, the Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood, fights against complacency, bureaucratic inertia, racism, and despair every waking hour. Freedman presents a moving, intimate, and ennobling portrait of Youngblood and representative members of his flock with all the eloquent passion of one of the young pastor's sermons. Positive male parental role models and creative self-help serve as keystones of the church's success. The author's Small Victories ( LJ 5/1/90) provided a similar portrayal of an urban high school teacher. Highly recommended for all but the squeamish or the faint of heart.
- Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., Cal.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book chronicles a Brooklyn church and its community amid the crime, drugs and despair of the black community. However , faith and learning to believe in the Lord and his ultimate plan for an individual and his community makes this church an oasis amid the storms. It is a story of a pastor, with his own demons, trying to be resopnsible for the souls of his congregation and the thin ice on which he must tread. This book will make you look at the inner city and its churches in a different light.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
Samuel Freedman has done a remarkable job in his chronicle of the story of Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood, a pastor of a now-thriving urban church, St. Paul Community Baptist Church. This narrative covers the history of Youngblood from before his arrival at St. Paul's, a once-thriving but fallen-upon-hard-times congregation, through Youngblood's early struggles to turn the situation around, finally into their days of success as a growing centre of ministry.
Youngblood is not the typical African-American minister, and realises this in many ways. He is compared with other ministers of significant churches, with education backgrounds at Harvard and the like, and contrasted by Freedman with those ministers who feel all that is needed for effective ministry is 'the call'. Youngblood realises that education can sometimes be a distraction, and can sometimes get in the way -- the person in pew will want the answer to the question, 'What does this mean for me?' -- but should not be abandoned or discounted in its importance.
Youngblood experienced conflict as a central feature of his ministry: conflict within the congregation, conflict within his family, and conflict with society at large. Youngblood accepted conflict head-on in many instances -- he stood up to the leaders of the congregation from the earliest times (indeed, Youngblood says that in many ways, he tried to sabotage his own accession to the pastorate at St. Paul so as not to have to deal with their problems), and dealt firmly with people and issues, as is often expected from ministers in the African-American tradition.
Even from his seminary days, when he was forced out of a student-pastorship position, conflict seemed inevitable, such that the very idea of ministry frightened Youngblood in many ways.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wallicia McCaskill on November 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book takes you on a journey filled with the miracles of faith and power of prayer. You can feel each trial and tribulation in your heart. I have visited this church after reading this book and the warmth and love is all over the church. This pastor has endured much, in order to dedicate his life to his calling. I was inspired to reach out and believe me it was a rock for me as a child of Christ and I was able to dedicate myself to the cause of Christ. It is a must read for all, young and old. My children, and my childrens children will read this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book chronicles a Brooklyn church and its community amid the crime, drugs and despair of the black community. However , faith and learning to believe in the Lord and his ultimate plan for an individual and his community makes this church an oasis amid the storms. It is a story of a pastor, with his own demons, trying to be resopnsible for the souls of his congregation and the thin ice on which he must tread. This book will make you look at the inner city and its churches in a different light.
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