The final principle of Kwanzaa is Imani, Kiswahili for faith. On Saturday, January 1, the last day of the seven-day festival of first fruits, people of the African Diaspora will light the seventh candle in their homes and at community centers. 

Imani calls on individuals to believe–without reservation–in family, community, culture, people of African descent and the ultimate victory of their collective struggle. This principle underscores the fact that belief in what can be achieved inspires people to build strong families, which are building blocks of communities. Without faith, nothing will be achieved.

Members of Restoration Worship Temple in Bushwick have faith that their church doors will reopen so they could resume serving their community. Pastor Owen Loftman explained to BK Reader that his congregation is raising the funds needed to restore the church building.

“We need half a million to fix the roof. We’re nowhere near,” the minister revealed. “I’m trusting God. I’m trusting Jesus.”

Constructed in 1896, the church building is in poor condition. The Temple bought the building in 2013 for its congregants to worship in. But four years ago, services had to move out temporarily, as the 19th-century church fell further into disrepair. “Does it leak? It’s like the Niagara Falls in here when it rains,” Loftman says, adding that the church is also behind in taxes. Meanwhile, he’s also fending off property prospectors.

By faith, the pastor saw a solution. The congregation is raising money through a church-run thrift store Antiques on Bushwick. Loftman has been driving around New York to buy bulk items at estate sales, assembling and selling them at the store.

Imani will see them through the mountain of challenges. Through the congregation’s faith, Restoration Worship Temple will raise the money it needs to resume its mission of serving Bushwick. Pastor Owens shared the latest developments in his church’s journey toward restoring their church building.


Beginning on Sunday, December 26, and for the next seven days of Kwanzaa, BK Reader will feature a different local resident or organization that exemplifies one of each of the seven principles! Go here to read about UmojaKujichaguliaUjimaUjamaa,  Nia and Kuumba.

Nigel Roberts

Nigel Roberts is a New York-based, award-winning freelance journalist. During his career, Nigel has written for several newspapers and magazines. He has extensive experience covering politics and was a...

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