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Welcome to the Spiritual Growth Study on Exodus: The Journey to Freedom. Christine Keels and the Rev. Bernard Keels have provided a deep river of content to draw us through the historical journey of African American Methodists in the United States. For these modern-day successors of the ancient Hebrews whom Moses led out of slavery in Egypt, there is a river between their desert wandering and the promised land; it is the river Jordan, and those traveling to the promised land have to go through it.

Exodus can be read as an ancient history of the Hebrews, showing the power of our God, whom we worship in church each Sunday. This is important. But the United States has its own Exodus story to tell, and we have not crossed over Jordan yet. Many generations have passed since our Civil War, and many have forgotten the story of how freedom was won for an enslaved people in this country. There is no annual commemoration like that of the Jewish Passover. No bread is broken, no wine is spilled, and no story is told about why "this night is different from all other nights" in remembrance of the African American freedom story. There is no solemn celebration to remind the people of the present about the lash and chains suffered by their forebears and about their ancestors‚ brave resistance and long journey toward freedom.

This more recent freedom saga is complex. The story of Black Americans cannot be told without the story of White Americans. The stories of Native Americans, Spanish descendants, and a multitude of immigrants - the Germans, Irish, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and a host of other transplanted people, some willing, some coerced - are entwined with the story of a nation founded on the genocide of the peoples native to the land and on the slave labor of the Africans.

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