Is the Black church a visitor in the Black Community?
By Roger Caldwell
In Washington Shores there are over 50 Black churches located in a five mile radius. With this many churches located in one area, there should be a plethora of positive activities and organizations working to improve the quality of life for its residents. Somewhere there is a divide, because there is more Black on Black crime, drugs, and violence in this community.
It is very easy to blame these conditions on, lack of money, the system, lack of police presence, the mayor, or the NAACP. But the Black Church opens its doors every week in the community, and nothing changes. Each week the Black Church generates thousands of dollars in the Washington Shores community, but, very little is invested back in that community.
There are churches such as the Hope Church that owns many different businesses in the community. They are providing jobs for residents with many different investments, and they are making a difference. There is also the New Covenant Baptist Church that has built a senior citizens apartment building, but the investments have been limited, when we see over 50 churches in the community.
To the people in the community, most of these churches are on lock-down most of the time, and they very rarely do anything in the community. In 2015, these low income communities are begging for help, and most of the churches know very little about their neighbors, who live next to the church. There is a pervasive mental health issue in this community, and there are very few programs accessible to the residents.
If Washington Shores community is going to improve its quality of life, the business owners, school leaders, civic organizations and churches must collectively come together with a short range and long range empowerment plans. Many of the church members do not live in the community, and they make sure after the service is over, they are out of the community.
It is easy for middle class Blacks to talk about being Black and proud, but it is extremely difficult to put money and action in these communities. If Black pastors believe they have a responsibility to change economically challenged communities, they must start by opening up their churches first to the children. Many of these children need after school a place to come that is safe, and they can do their homework with computers.
If the focus is on the children, the mothers will also come. With the mothers, the local churches can hold workshops and teach them about healthy eating and the importance of voting. As the churches after school programs grow and expand, the churches become an integral part of the community.
Finally in the Washington Shores community the Black churches should have a functional economic/civic organization, whose goal is to bring more businesses and economic empowerment zones to the community. It is time for the Black church to gain trust in the community, by opening up their church, and stop being a commuter church. If the Black church is committed to improve the quality of life, they cannot be a visitor in the Black community.