Gretchen Brown, the Rev. Katie Ladd, Dr. Cornel West, Sarah Roemer and Janjay Innis gather after West’s visit to
The Well at Queen Anne UMC. West spoke on various topics, promoting his new book “Black Prohetic Fire”.


(Left) The Rev. Sharon Moe, Pastor of Seattle: First UMC and former student of Dr. Cornel West has her copy of “Black Prophetic Fire” signed. (Right) The Rev. Monica Corsaro of Seattle: Rainier Beach UMC chats with Dr. West before his lecture at The Well @ Seattle’s Queen Anne UMC.

Global Mission Fellows meet Dr. Cornel West
By Jesse N. Love

West revisits a Seattle church to speak about “Black Prophetic Fire” during a lunch event with 120 attendees including the local community and Methodist clergy. Global Mission Fellows helped support this event and share their perspective on how West’s talk has an impact on their work in the Tacoma community.

On October 9, 2014, folks gathered at Queen Anne United Methodist Church in Seattle to hear the incomparable, truth-telling activist and educator, Dr. Cornel West. West visited Seattle to promote his book, “Black Prophetic Fire”. This was his third visit to Queen Anne UMC as a guest speaker of The Well – the Church’s guest speaker series.

The Rev. Katie Ladd sees The Well as a way to continue ongoing dialog for action in the community, “I consider what we are doing as church. There is a liturgy at play, here. We are doing the work of the people to move ourselves to a new and better place.”

Dr. West poetically spoke on a wide-range of topics. Here are some ideas from his lecture (paraphrased):

On music and the arts:

  • The spirit will not ascend without music. Today’s music is as thin as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid. The labels need to be pressured into creating quality music.
  • With arts programs wiped out, what is going to pique my imagination? Kids today have to use computers to create music instead of learning how to play real instruments.
  • We’re in a culture of superficial spectacle that young people are exposed to every minute of their life – they have no sense of an alternative.

On Black Prophetic Fire:

  • This book is a love-letter to the younger generation.
  • Muster the courage to find your voice and blend it with other voices, no matter how dark the situation, no matter how intense the catastrophe may be.

On our “Spiritual Blackout”:

  • During the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, the police was in fear. They were scared of the people, because the people were ready to die.
  • Depending on what the market provides, there is pleasure for consumption and guns and drugs for survival.
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel calls this a “Spiritual Blackout” – to be given the internalized perception of themselves, as less beautiful, less moral, less intelligent, with life having less worth.
  • People are so afraid, scared, and intimidated. It is difficult to straighten up, speak your mind, think critically, act honorably, speak candidly AND be willing to pay the price.

On Love:

  • The kingdom of God is not a brand. The cause of love is not a commercial. The struggle of freedom is not an advertisement.
  • Tenderness is what love feels like in private.
  • We are in this together even though we might not agree.

In attendance were Global Mission Fellows, Sarah Roemer and Janjay Innis – both who are assigned to Tacoma Community House. Each shared how this event will help them in their work in their community.

IDEAS_CornelWest“I thought it was very important to hear from Dr. West about the Black collective and voice. We need to be intentional about hearing people, so we’re not ignoring, placating, or sort of creating a ‘lesser-known’ emphasis on their issues,” shares Roemer.

“Its important that people like Dr. West are spreading the news and bringing the media light, especially to people like me who can never fully understand or relate to something this complicated. We seek to be an ally for that voice. Anytime I can go outside the walls, to hear voices of young people and the oppressed, it’s an opportunity to bring it back to Tacoma Community House to do what we can do to intentionally serve the community.”

Janjay Innis’ favorite moments from the event included music from The Total Experience Gospel Choir. Innis points out how West sees music as transcending all of our cultures. In a time where we live in a multicultural world, music is what connects us.

“West was telling the story of Black prophets who felt deep wounds of racism and did something about it,” shares Innis. “While listening to West, I felt as if he was telling a story. In my work as a social justice advocate, I am listening to their stories, empathizing with them so we are able to walk alongside them. Sometimes we are to be angry, but not vengeful, we have to be gentle, we have to love. Love sets us on a path to achieve the goal of bringing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.”

For more information on Queen Anne UMC and The Well,
including a schedule of upcoming guest speakers, visit
Sarah Roemer as a community organizer and Janjay Innis is a social justice advocate,
both as Global Mission Fellows assigned to Tacoma Community House.
Jesse N. Love serves as the graphic designer & print manager for the PNWUMC.


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