Black ministers meet in Augusta for leadership conference

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

August 14, 2006

Several prominent black leaders are in Augusta tonight with a message for churches.

Organizers hope to spark a revival.

Rev. Al Sharpton says black churches need to get back to their roots.

He's brought that message to Augusta, telling over 100 ministers from across the country why their churches have the potential to be empowering agents in the black community.

"A lot of us learned how to shout in Augusta," he said today. "Now we are going to learn how to organize in Augusta."

Rev. Sharpton addressed over 100 black ministers from all over the country about the role of black churches, a role that some pastors say has shifted from important issues in the black community like health, unemployment, and politics.

"We are now focused on the money and the anointing, but not people being delivered and brought to the Promised Land," says Rev. Fred Favors of Springfield Baptist Church in Thomson.

"We have sermons written at the White House rather than church house," Rev. Sharpton said.

"I think one of the things we've go to do is look at those persons we are sending to Congress and the Senate to represent us," said Dr. Clarence Moore of Good Shepherd Baptist. "We have to have people more sensitive to those needs within the black community."

It's a two-day conference to get black churches back to addressing issues that no longer seem to get attention in the black congregation: for instance, the controversial Georgia voter ID bill that is supposed to prevent voter fraud.

Opponents say it will prevent the black vote.

"The voter ID that is nothing but a 21st century way of trying to stop blacks from voting, and churches need to step forward and call it what it is," Rev. Sharpton said.

First African Baptist Church pastor Dr. Thurmond Tillman drove in from Savannah for the conference.

"The black church was a focal point for families," he said. "It was a focal point for individuals. If there were needs one had, one knew they could find it at the black church."

Rev. Sharpton says in order for churches to get back to their roots, they need to start speaking out on injustice and confronting systems of society the way they used to.

This is only the second conference like this. The first was held in Dallas.

Tomorrow's speakers include congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Dick Gregory, and the conference will end with a sermon by Rev. Sharpton.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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