By Edward C. Lee
The African American church has long been the launching pad for lasting social, political and economic change in and for the African American community. From the days of slavery on through the Civil Rights movement, the church has been the most consistent voice of change and hope of unity to address concerns facing our community.
It was announced last week that a group of 10 pastors has partnered with the National Fatherhood Initiative, Urban Ministries, Inc., and The National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting, to initiative a “Call to Action” that will recruit clergy from around the country to join together and take the lead in working toward reversing destructive trends pertaining to declines in marriage and rise in fatherlessness in African American homes.
This Call to Action specifically states, “Similar to how the church had a central role in the civil rights movement of the 20th century, we believe that now is the time for the African-American church to lead the way in reversing the alarming decline in marriage and the exponential increase in father absence that we have witnessed in the African-American community over the past several decades. The consequences are too great for the church to accept anything less than a leadership role in joining the national movement to renew marriage and fatherhood, starting in the African-American church.”
The organizers of this new initiative have targeted five broad strategies to ensure their goals are met and the African American community is best served:
- Acknowledge and eliminate the barriers to promoting marriage and fatherhood in the church.
- Be a voice and a guide for God’s plan for marriage, fathers, and families.
- Advocate for strong marriages and help others to enjoy them.
- Help and encourage men to be the fathers their children need.
- Enlist and guide the community in strengthening marriages, fathers, and families.
In addition, several specific tactics for each of the five strategies will be distributed nationally to clergy, along with a Pastors’ Toolkit containing sermon notes and information about programs provided by the movement’s partners. For example, National Fatherhood Initiative provides several fatherhood skill-building resources that churches can use to help men be better dads, such as the 24/7 Dadâ„¢ Power Hour, a small group discussion kit for fathers.
The leaders and founding signatories of the Call to Action are: Edwin Bass, Founder and Senior Pastor, The Empowered Church (Church of God in Christ) and President of COGIC Urban Initiatives, Inc., St. Louis, MO; Alex Gee, Founder and Senior Pastor, Fountain of Life Family Worship Center, Madison, WI; David Guy, Associate Pastor, Life International, Research Triangle Park, NC; Rob Harrison, Founder and President, 4ever Marriages & Families; Ray Johnson, Senior Pastor, Calvary Revival Church Peninsula, Newport News, VA; Bernie Miller, Founder and Pastor, New Covenant Fellowship Church, Chattanooga, TN; Johnny Parker, Men’s Ministry Director, First Baptist Church, Glenarden, MD; John Penton, Founder and Pastor, Greater Roosevelt Heights Church, Tacoma, WA; Clarence Shuler, President and CEO, Building Lasting Relationships; and Sherman Strong, Pastor, Restoration Temple (Church Of God in Christ), St. Louis, MO.
Personally, I am really excited about this “Call to Action” and am looking forward to participate in any small way I can. Although, this movement is organized and initiated by Pastors and their partners, anyone that is interested in showing their support and getting involved can sign the Call to Action. For more information go to www.fatherhood.org/calltoaction.
What do you think BMWK, will you support this initiative by African American pastors to take a stand for marriage and fatherhood?