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From The Pulpit

By Rev. Frank C. Brown, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Atlanta
Excerpted from The Conductor

As the moral compass of our community, we seek to be intimately engaged in the decision making process that affects the lives of all people. In other words, we want to be called and consulted first, when problems develop, exist or persist. And we will respond to those calls with all deliberate speed and due diligence, based upon our common values of faith, family and community. It is our position to be proactive, not reactive, and to utilize the ingenuity of our membership to develop initiatives and programs that will lead us from the ravages of an impoverished condition. Because when people live with their backs against the wall, they need to know that there is someone who stands on the side of the oppressed.

It was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who once said that life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others? And by virtue of our common cause, we are called upon to do the work that will liberate people from the depth of their circumstances. Our mission is to provide leadership, advocacy, and service to the homeless, helpless and hopeless in our community. With God as our guide, faith as our foundation, and deliverance as our aspiration, it is my sincere heartfelt prayer, that together we will build upon the great legacy that began twenty eight years ago, which seeks to serve the least, the lost, the locked out, the marginalized and oppressed people in our society. We will make it our priority to continue to create outreach programs and partner with civic, community and other non-profit organizations that are addressing the needs of the homeless. The homeless population is expanding, while services and resources on the state and federal level are diminishing. But as a people of faith, we are called upon to be sensitive to the plight of the poor. We cannot turn our backs on this systemic problem.

The CBC has a partnership with the Wells Fargo Corporation to address this challenge in our community. It is an initiative that developed at the height of the foreclosure crisis to help people remain in their homes, and learn to better manage their resources. This program seeks to connect clergy and their memberships with relevant banking products and services that promote neighborhood stability and financial success in our communities. In addition to this initiative, it is imperative that we leverage relationships with other corporate sponsors such as Habitat for Humanity and 1st Choice. Both of these outstanding organizations provide first time homebuyer workshops and other educational services relative to homeownership.

I recognize that the issue of homelessness is extremely broad and complex and that it is not limited to those who reside in shelters and sleep under bridges. But it is also represented by those who are living in the basement of family and friends, or perhaps living in extended stay motels. There are many variables that cause and create homelessness. Chief among them are the economic conditions under which we live. Unfortunately, the greatest disparity between the rich and the poor in this nation exist here in the city of Atlanta. We also hold the dubious distinction of being the poorest city in the US for children with the largest number of homeless children. So in our quest to deal with the homeless issue, we must not overlook our brothers, but we must channel our attention greatly to women and children.

We must continue to support and create programs and services that address the employment issues in our community. The employment market will never be what it once was. This is why we must help our people develop a spirit of entrepreneurism. It is imperative that we encourage and educate our communities on how to create and support small businesses in our community. We want to provide resources for good business practices that develop into the tools necessary for creating sound business plans to provide consistent quality customer service which is critical product delivery, access to financial resources the sustainability of capital. All of which work together to eliminating homelessness and poverty.

We are called upon in the words of the prophet Micah, to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. It is my prayer that as God leads me, God will lead this organization with the same sense of urgency and focus that has been demonstrated by our founding members. But I have learned that a leader is only as good as those who follow them. And I have absolutely no interest in being a lone ranger in this mission. Independently we can accomplish some things, but together we can accomplish so much more.

Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta’s Salute to Black Families

 Excerpted from The Conductor – 3rd Quarter 2012 

In celebration of the many contributions and accomplishments of African American families, the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta, presented their 2012 Annual Salute to Black Families Celebration on Saturday, November 3, 2012, at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, Georgia. The theme for this year’s celebration was “Realizing the Beloved Community.” We were proud to honor numerous outstanding families in our churches and other community leaders in areas such as education, business, politics, religion and medicine. More than 800 people attended the event as we celebrated the outstanding work of some very deserving persons in our community.

Concerned Black Clergy, better known as CBC, was officially chartered in 1983 in response to the problems emerging in the city related to missing and murdered children. The founding leaders, both clergy and lay, were concerned about the negative black male images that were prevalent and being internalized by black children, especially black boys. The idea emerged that CBC needed to aggressively tackle the problem of negative black male images prominent in the black community. As a result, the salutes to the black community, to its heritage, to its leaders, and to its achievements were launched. Since the beginning of CBC, it has sponsored yearly salutes to the fathers, to the mothers, and to the black heritage as a way to promote positive images not only for black boys but also for black girls.

With so much negative press permeating through the African American community due to high rates of divorce, single parents, and out of wed-lock births, we have witnessed an all too familiar story of our families being ripped apart due to a constant cultural crisis that often leads to people being kicked to the curb. If we continue to allow our families to fall apart, our society will remain on a path of increasing deterioration. Systemic problems related to education, racism, lack of resources and institutionalization are major contributors to this persistent problem.

As servants of God, the CBC believes that our number one ministry is our family. Therefore, we believe that this event is significant because the heart of the black community is family. As one of the key anchor institutions for our people, family has always been the social fabric which moves us forward. Family provides a safe, nurturing atmosphere where children can be conceived, born, adopted, disciplined, loved, encouraged, instructed, and ultimately released to form their own families. It’s the place that is designed to meet our basic human needs. A place to experience belonging. It’s a place to teach established social, community, moral and spiritual values. Family provides us with a safe place to discover the meaning of life. Everybody needs a family.

Subsequently, CBC is sounding the trumpet to engage people of faith and goodwill in an effort to celebrate the highest ideals of our people, and place emphasis on establishing and developing strong familial relationships.

Historically, part of the CBC salutes has been the effort to recruit other churches into the process of honoring and promoting people who have made significant contributions to the positive uplift of the black community. Consequently, individual black churches select several people from their congregations who will be publicly honored at the salute as well. As we continue to expand our reach, this will enable us to make a more impressive impact on our community at large.

Some of the benefits for clergy being involved in CBC are that it provides an opportunity for clergy to identify resources for doing ministry; gives them a platform to discuss and share ministry ideas and challenges with other clergy; consistent engagement of the issues that adversely impact the lives of people, and persistent fellowship opportunities. As the primary, principle centered, proactive organization of faith in metro Atlanta, we pray that our efforts will always serve as the catalyst by which change occurs in our community as we address the systemic, social, economic, political, and cultural ills affecting our community.