FaithReligion

Area Pastors Seek to Empower Congregants

The Ministry Center of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden was filled with pastors and religious leaders Friday for a conference with the message that only the church can fix the plight of African-Americans.

The Collective Empowerment Group’s annual Empowerment Conference — with this year’s theme, “Creating Legacy.COM (Cutting-Edge Opportunities 4 Ministry)” — welcomed George Fraser, CEO of Black Wealth Alliance, as the keynote speaker.

Fraser emphasized the church’s role in lifting the black community.

“It is my vision that the church has to lead the charge when closing the income gap between blacks and whites in America,” Fraser said.

George Fraser, Bobby Manning and lawyer Majet Parker (Hamil Harris/The Washington Informer)
George Fraser, Bobby Manning and lawyer Majet Parker (Hamil Harris/The Washington Informer)

Rev. Jonathan Weaver, pastor of Greater Mount Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church, sat at a front table during the event.  In 1993, Weaver organized African-American pastors who were forced to meet in storefronts after being denied loans and services from area banks.

“It is imperative that the black community, driven by the black church, transform who we are as a people and the only way that we can do this is collectively,” Weaver said, adding that in the era of President Trump, African-Americans must do more for themselves.

The clergymen said the time has come for church leaders to do more to empower their members once they leave the pews.

“One of the last bastions of hope is the church,” said Rev. Anthony G. Maclin, pastor of the Sanctuary at Kingdom Square. “Churches have to come together so that we can raise the conscious level of our people.”

Rev. Bobby Manning, pastor of the First Baptist Church of District Heights, said he host events at laundromats and other neighborhood venues to connect to the community.

“Our churches need to be about empowering people and that is giving them the tools and skills to help them along the way,” Manning said.

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Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the Greater Washington Area. Hamil has chronicled the Million Man March, the Clinton White House, the September 11 attack, the sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the campaign of President Barack Obama and many other people and events. Hamil is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of the Washington Post where he writes a range of stories, shoots photos and produces videos for the print and online editions of the Post. In addition, he is often called upon to report on crime, natural disasters and other breaking issues. In 2006 Harris was part of a team of reporters that published the series “Being a Black Man.” He was also the reporter on the video project that accompanied the series that won two Emmy Awards, the Casey Medal and the Peabody Award. Hamil has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, the American University, the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia. He also lectures several times a year to interns during their semester in the District as part of their matriculation at the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities.

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