Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Minister

          I mastered pastoral theology, the Greek of the Apostles, and all the difficult subjects in a minister’s curriculum.
          I was as learned as any in this country when the Bishop ordained me.
          And I went to preside over Mount Moriah, largest flock in the Conference.
          I preached the Word as I felt it, I visited the sick and dying and comforted the afflicted in spirit.
          I loved my work because I loved my God.
          But I lost my charge to Sam Jenkins, who has not been to school four years in his life.
          I lost my charge because I could not make my congregation shout.   
          And my dollar money was small, very small.
          Sam Jenkins can tear a Bible to tatters and his congregation destroys the pews with their shouting and stamping.
          Sam Jenkins leads in the gift of raising dollar money.
          Such is religion.

Credit


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 7, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“The Minister” is part a longer poem entitled “African Nights” and was published in Others for 1919: An Anthology of the New Verse (N. L. Brown, 1920).

Author


Fenton Johnson

Fenton Johnson was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1888. He was a forerunner of the Harlem Renaissance writers.

Date Published: 1920-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/minister