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The House of the Lord Church where Black Political Power and Culture was born and Nurtured Part 35

The History and Spirit of the House of the Lord Church

Through Reverend Daughtry’s prophetic activism and institution building, he has continued the legacy that was left by his father. The legacy and spirit of Bishop Alonzo Daughtry can be clearly seen in four areas:

  • A break with the family tradition

  • To the bewilderment of Bishop Daughtry’s contemporaries including the family as he left his father’s church which was one of the most prestigious churches in Savannah, GA and his father was among the most prominent ministers in the city, to follow Bishop Grace who was an itinerant preacher with no church building in Savannah. They worshiped in a tent.

  • Why would Bishop Daughtry leave his father and all of the prestigious trappings and wealth that his father possessed and follow Bishop Grace was a question discussed for years in the family.

  • Resistance to Authority

  • Bishop Daughtry resisted the power and authority of Bishop Grace.

Keep in mind that Bishop Grace was a very powerful man who had wrapped himself in religious garb. As stated, people had come to worship him. Additionally, Bishop Grace had ordained Bishop Daughtry and sent him to Augusta. So Bishop Grace was Bishop Daughtry’s mentor, his teacher, his trainer, and his Bishop. Yet, Bishop Daughtry challenged him and the congregation by using Scripture as the basis of his argument. There in Augusta surrounded by Bishop Graces’ fanatical followers, he stood firm and bold on Scripture. And as we have seen, it caused a boisterous reaction from Bishop Grace’s devotees. On the night that this happened, Mrs. Daughtry's mother with two babies had to crawl out of the tent along with those who sided with Bishop Daughtry.

  1. Challenge Segregation Laws of the South

  • As stated, in the House of the Lord Church, the legal name is the House of the Lord and Church on the Mount. The members and supporters only used the House of the Lord when referring to the church. But the legal name as stated above was given to the church by one of the founding members, Christine Carey, who gave the church its legal name. She said that she saw handwriting that wrote the name of the church shall be, the House of the Lord and Church on the Mount, the meaning was that everybody should be in the House of the Lord. But only sincere, dedicated, Holy Ghost-filled members could be members of the Church on the Mount. And only God can separate the two. It was a unique way of interpreting Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tare go together and that God would separate them on the day of judgment. Matthew 13:24-30

  • As the church began to grow significantly all races came to worship. It was a direct violation of the Southern law for races to mix. Bishop Daughtry was told to cease the integration worship. Again, citing Scripture, when Peter and the disciples of Jesus were told to stop preaching, or else they would be thrown in jail. Peter’s response was, “We must obey God rather than man.” Acts 5:29. Peter courageously refused to bow before lawful officials of the state and so did Bishop Daughtry. Black and white, and whosoever desired continued to worship together. He was threatened both with physical harm and with jail, but he boldly continued the integration worship.

What we see in Bishop Daughtry’s attitude and behavior was “the courage of his convictions” and the audacity to stand up for what he believed.

  • First, it was a break with tradition in that he left the family's history to join another minister and another church.

  • Secondly, we see the courage to challenge religious authority. He challenged his mentor and powerful leader and the leader's followers. What we say in sports, is “his home field”. This challenge was too religious authority.

  • Finally, he stood up against the power of the entrenched racism in the South. Even when it was undergirded by legality and intimidation, the threat of violence. By his actions, Bishop Daughtry fearlessly challenged state power.

Bishop Daughtry was to set the tone and tenor, the spirit of the House of the Lord church which was to be the driving force of the church throughout its history. Of course, all of it, all that the Bishop was and did, he believed that he was doing the will of God.

  1. A synthesis of religion and economic

From the beginning, Bishop Daughtry saw religion and the people’s that material well-being were joined together. When growing up the Daughtry family remembers wherever there was a House of the Lord church there was some kind of business. There was a wood yard selling wood, a watermelon stand, an auto-repair shop, and a restaurant. When the church expanded to Brooklyn, NY around 1942. Bishop Daughtry opened one of the first of what we have come to call bodegas. The store was on the corner of Dean St. and Saratoga Ave. Not far from Junior High 178 which was up to Dean street and not far from where we lived down Dean street.

One of the major businesses was a burial society observing the insurance companies' policies was life insurance. Our people, I’m not sure it was for all people, paid for the policies for all their lives when they died they only received enough money for the funeral and burial and the rest of the money was kept by the insurance companies. When the insurance companies became aware of the Church’s Burial Society, they sought legal. Bishop Daughtry saw the unfairness, really economic exploitation. He decided to do something about it. Yes, he started a burial society with the church members (and maybe others). In time, the insurance companies became aware of the church’s burial society. Again, Bishop Daughtry was commanded to cease the business. And again, he refused. He was taken to court by the insurance companies with the support of black morticians. They saw in Bishop Daughtry’s burial society a threat, at least so they claimed, to the success of their businesses.

As the children of Bishop Daughtry and the children of the morticians played together, they would jokingly ask each other, “I wonder whose father won in court today?” Well, the insurance companies and the mortician won. However, eventually, Bishop Daughtry was vindicated and insurance companies had to refund those who held said policies.

In challenging the insurance companies and refusing to bend to their demands, we observed the Bishop’s fourth challenge to powerful authorities on behalf of the people’s needs, justice, and fairness.

To be continued…

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