Story By: Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” - Words of Jesus Christ (Lk.12:48)
PRAIRIE VIEW-The message of the Fifty-Sixth Session of Annual Minister’s Conference at Prairie View A&M University was simple: for preachers to “Preach the Word of God and Empower God’s Church for Social Change.”
Some say preparing the flock for social change is easier said than done, and requires doing more than just talking about it. Preachers gathered from Texas and around the country as far away as Chicago, Illinois, Louisville, Ky, Milwaukee, Wisc. and Irving, Ca. attended the conference with the overall notion of taking back some “fire in the belly” enthusiasm for saving their communities.
Charles H. Lewter IV, Dean of Chapel at Prairie View A&M, said he hoped the them would remind ministers that time is of the essence. Not only is unity needed, but pastors must focus on preaching the true gospel with power and ensuring the message remains relevant in today’s society. “The church must continue to be that vehicle for social and moral change in the communities we serve,” he said. “That happens when we take a dynamic approach to dealing the ills of society and find ways and initiatives that will help us bring the good news to a generation that does not seem to want to hear it.” He said the new road to social change start with a hands on ministry approach that encourages men to come back to the church and be leaders and role models there and in the home.
Pastor F. N. Williams, 85, who was honored at the conference with the Senior Minister of the Year Award, said preachers have been challenged to go back to their churches and not just preach, but to make that real difference. “We are losing ground and slipping further behind each day,” he said. “We must meet today’s changes with the kind of change that challenges our people to change their appearances and goals and teach them to embrace and reflect the true blueprint for Black freedom.” Even though he received an award, he said it was not the priority or the highlight of the conference for him.
According to Williams, the battleground has been drawn and social and economic change for the Black community and there is a need to develop a new consciousness about real priorities and it must start with preachers and the church. He blamed the current dilemma facing the Black community on the selfishness and poor vision of some and the neglect of others. Williams also contends that the struggle between Elitist Blacks and Middle Class Blacks have created damaging divisions in the community and left poor in the community fending for themselves.
“We have hurt ourselves by creating a new class caste system among our own people,” he said. “Churches must now step forward, take the lead again and be the source for change.” He also said efforts must me stepped up to get parents and pastors on the same page when it comes to educating, training and disciplining youth. “We don’t want them to give up, we want them to partner with us and participate in the push for improvements in the community,” he said. “We must save our young people.”
He said African-Americans must also start reading conscious Black newspapers and other valuable information that will educate and help advance the cause of making our people ready for the future.
“Social change starts here.” Williams said.