Opinion: Pastors Support Coal Terminal for Jobs and Economic Development


A newly formed group of local pastors made a powerful appearance before the Oakland City Council Tuesday evening, Dec. 8, to speak out in favor of a maritime project that will bring long-awaited jobs and economic development to a number of local communities.


The Ecumenical Economic Empowerment Council is comprised of a core group of 14 pastors from throughout Oakland, and primarily West Oakland, who have come together in an organized fashion to pursue ways that will empower and sustain our local communities.


The focus will be on jobs and job training, public health and safety, youth development, education, housing, and economic development.


The issue being considered by the Oakland City Council is whether or not a local African-American owned business will be permitted to move forward without further delay on its construction of a multiple-bulk commodities maritime terminal at the former Oakland Army Base.


Although the terminal will handle the transport of numerous bulk commodities like cattle feed, agricultural grains, iron ore, soda and pot ash, the City Council is reviewing testimony and findings to determine if there is, in fact, a health and safety risk associated with the transport of coal, which is one of the other commodities that will be transported through this terminal.


The group of pastors, having met with Jerry Bridges, the African-American CEO of Terminal Logistics Solutions, the company that will build, own, and operate the terminal, expressed to the City Council their full support for the project and their confidence in the commitments made by the operator to mitigate all of the local environmental concerns raised by opponents.


“The innovative design of this project and TLS’s commitment to accept only covered rail cars and to move, store, and transload products using state of the art technology and innovation, are convincing and provide the kind of assurance we needed to, in good conscience, support this project,” stated Bishop Joseph Simmons of Greater St. Paul Baptist Church, president of the EEEC.


According to Bishop Bob Jackson, pastor of Acts Full Gospel Church expressed in his statement to the City Council, “We’re very concerned about the delay by the City in making its determination on this project because it translates to delay in bringing needed jobs and significant economic benefits to some of our communities in Oakland who need it most.”


The pastors stood in united accord along with minority contractors and more than 50 church members who also attended the Council meeting and vowed to return when this matter is scheduled for consideration by the Council in February.


The group of pastors concluded their presentation by providing to members of the City Council a copy of the attached letter that was sent earlier to Mayor Libby Schaaf in sup-port of this project and expressing the intent of the EEEC to lead the way as well on a host of other community empowerment issues that are coming to bear as it sees so many of our local neighborhoods and communities in Oakland changing so rapidly.


Members of the EEEC include:


Bishop Joseph Simmons, president Greater St. Paul Baptist Church; Rev. Michael Wallace, vice president Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church; Dr. Kevin D. Barnes Sr., Secretary Treasurer Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church;


Dr. Gerald Agee, 
Friendship Christian Center; Rev. James E. Bobo Sr., Greater Galilee C.O.G.I.C.; Bishop Keith Lee Clark, Word Assembly Church; Dr. E. N. Crawford, 
Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church,


Dr. Russell A. Duley, 
Kaleo Christian Fellowship; Bishop Bob Jackson, Acts Full Gospel Church; Rev. Anthony Jenkins, Sr.
Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church; Dr. Gregory B. Payton, 
Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church;


Rev. Brondon Reems, 
Center of Hope Community Church; Bishop Dr. Samuel Robinson, Church of the Living God; Bishop C. Carl Smith, 
New Birth Church Oakland.


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