What’s in a Name?

The Real Reason Why We Chose Mars Hill As Our Name

When someone asks, “what’s the name of the church you pastor” and I respond, “Mars Hill,” three things happen:

  1. A blank stare
  2. They ask: “Are you affiliated with the church that disbanded in Seattle, WA?” (NO! We were Mars Hill before they were)
  3. They ask: “Are you affiliated with Rob Bell and the church in Grand Rapids, MI?” (see #2)

History makes one’s life richer by giving meaning to the origin.  It broadens one’s outlook and enables one to grasp an understanding of one’s being by shedding light on its past.  Since it is Black History Month, I would like to share the history behind why we chose Mars Hill as our name.

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Athens, Greece | Photographs of Mars’ Hill, Acropolis

The Origin of our Name

The Areopagus or Areios Pagos is the “Hill of Ares” or Mars Hill.  It is located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens.

In classical times, the Areopagus functioned as the chief homicide court of Athens.  It is known as the location where Ares was supposed to have been tried by the Gods for the murder of Poseidon’s son, Alirrothios.  Also, the hill was said to be the site for the trial of Orestes, for killing Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, his stepmother and her lover.

In pre-classical times (before the 5th century BC), the Areopagus was the council of elders, in the city, and were much like the Roman Senate.  Similar to the Senate, its membership derived from those who held high public office, in this case that would be the Archon.  In 462 BC, Ephialtes put forth reforms, which deprived the Areopagus of mostly all its functions, except the murder tribunal.

At the foot of the Areopagus was a temple dedicated to the Erinyes, where murderers would find shelter, in an effort not to face the consequences of their actions.  Near the Areopagus, the Basilica of Dionysius Areopagites was constructed.  The basilica was a rectangular building used as a town hall and law courts.  It was used in the Christian period and served as the blueprint for early churches.

It’s More Than Just Another Month – What Black History Means To Me

Black History Month means different things to different people.

As a Nation we have a month of recognition and silence for the mighty men and women of color who paved the way for all of us. We recognize them for their hard work, tears, and for those who died fighting for equality for people of color. I am proud to be a man of color born in America.

As we take time to celebrate this notable occasion, I would like to share what Black History Month means to me.  For me, Black History Month is a time of reflection, rejoicing, and recommitting to reach the next generation.

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5 Books You Should Read During African-American History Month

Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

Research has found that the proportion of young people who are daily readers drops has dropped dramatically in recent years. According to some studies, since 1984, the percentage of 13-year-olds who are weekly readers dropped from 70% to 53%. Even worse, the percentage of 17-year-olds who are weekly readers fell from 64% to a startling 40%. It’s jarring news.  Therefore, I’m sharing my list of reading recommendations.  Here are a few titles that had an impact on my life and that every African-American should read.

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The Mis-Education of the Negro – Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D.

The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that African-Americans of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools.  This conditioning, he claims, causes African-Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. He challenges his readers to become autodidacts and to “do for themselves,” regardless of what they were taught: History shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end.

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