Black Churches Conference Strategy for Development

Pernessa C. Seele

During the first national meeting of the newly formed Conference of National Black Churches  (CNBC) several plans for improving the lives of African Americans and underserved communities were presented by bishops, pastors and lay leaders The organization, which represents nine of the largest historically Black denominations with 30 million people and more than 50,000 congregations worldwide, focused on unity around four key issues. Participants traveled from across the country and as far as South Africa to attend the three-day meeting recently held in Washington, D.C.

Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson

The CNBC consists of the following Black Church Denominational groups: African American Episcopal, African American Episcopal Zion, Christian Methodist Episcopal, Church of God In Christ, Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship International, National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., International, National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., National Missionary Baptist Convention of America and the Progressive national Baptist Convention, Inc. “This initial CNBC national consultation was a success because it was more than inspiration and information – it focused on implementation of tactical programs,” said  Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, CNBC chairman and senior pastor of the historic Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York. “We have a comprehensive strategic plan, with specific programs and benchmarks, to address education, health, social justice, and economic empowerment,” he said. Along with the Ford Foundation and JP Morgan Chase Foundation, the CNBC identified other companies, organizations, and programs with common values, interests,  multiple resources and proven track records to collaborate with. For example, the education strategy includes partnering with the Children’s Defense Fund  and United Negro College Fund (UNCF). CNBC will work with Marian Wright Edelman, founder of The Children’s Defense Fund, to launch Freedom Schools for grades K-12 in local churches. CNBC will partner with UNCF by supporting the Historically Black  Colleges and Universities and providing them access to a pipeline of top high school students  seeking a college education.

Marian Wright Edelman

The health strategy includes working with The Balm of Gilead founder Pernessa C. Seele on education and advocacy around a variety of health topics and developing a “Healthy Sunday”  series. One Sunday a month, 10-minutes of time from the pulpit will be devoted to education and awareness on a specific health-related issue. CBNC will partner with three organizations known for their social justice efforts – the NAACP, the National Urban League and the National Action Network – to leverage support on issues of “prophetic responsibility” and  mutual concern as part of the social justice strategy. The economic empowerment partner will be The Vestal Group, owned by multicultural advertising executive Don Coleman. The partnership goals include leveraging the collective consumer dollars of African Americans and increasing financial literacy and  discount purchasing power through cooperative economics. “All participating in this effort demonstrated their gift of servant leadership and commitment to the collective call to action,” said Jacqueline Burton, CNBC President. “The strength of this CNBC movement will be in the many denominations working as one,” she said.
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