ABOVE PHOTO: Zion Baptist Church (2015 ©Google)
On Sunday December 13, 2015 the Fellowmen of Groove Phi Groove, Philadelphia Graduate Chapter partnered with The Men of Zion, to assist in that ministry’s annual drive to provide the necessary food staples for families in need. In essence the two agree that it is an African American tradition to prepare holiday fare and enter into fellowship together in a family setting. The catalyst of this partnership is the cultural recognition of the African American tradition of gathering the complete family together as one in Fellowship in a home setting.
The holiday family gatherings are reminiscent of southern gatherings transferred to northern cities as depicted in movies like Soul Food. This tradition started during the days of slavery when sharing and breaking of bread for the benefit of all helped sustain the livelihood of all in bondage.
The members of the Philadelphia Graduate Chapter of Groove Phi Groove, Social Fellowship have in the past bought turkeys for families, served and prepared food for families at food kitchens, and participated in serving the homeless. However, as member Christopher Kingsberry stated, “the family gathering is unique and important to the Black Family structure. It is during the traditional calendar dates of Thanksgiving, Christmas and July 4th that Black families (nuclear and immediate) come together for a de facto Family Reunion.
It is a time when new additions to the family are introduced and old bonds strengthened. Without these unique gatherings the Black family structure is weakened.” Chapter President Khary Atif stated the following in his correspondence to Deacon Joe Louis Jones, “Upon hearing of Zion Baptist Church’s noble mission to assist needy families in gathering around their own dinner table during the holiday, to partake in a complete family meal, prepared by their own hands, in a family setting, the Fellowmen of Groove Phi Groove unanimously voted to assist in this endeavor. We believe that feeding the hungry is a task assigned by God, but more importantly, we believe that giving those in need the tools to feed themselves is the most noble approach.”
Although this is their first partnership between the Historic Zion Baptist Church and the Fellowship of Groove Phi Groove, the Fellowmen intend on building a strong relationship to help their brothers and sisters in need as the Men of Zion, the Deacons Ministry and Zion Baptist at large have done for many years under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan, the key figure in facilitating the boycott and divestment of companies doing business with South African Country under Apartheid. It was Sullivan’s holistic approach to addressing a problem, which led to a relatively peaceful abolishment of Apartheid and release of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela.
In his presentation to the church Fellowman Kingsberry closed his remarks by issuing the following, “It is our hope that others, will see the value of this holistic approach toward addressing a need in the Black Community and Join The Men of Zion, Deacon’s Ministry and Fellowmen of Groove Phi Groove, Social Fellowship, Inc. in preserving our cultural traditions.”