The group hopes to reinvigorate church membership and participation among African-American men.
The National Black Church Initiative kicked off its latest initiative Sunday aimed at bringing 10 million African-American men back to church.
The National Black Church Initiative is a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African-Americans and is committed to bringing African-American men back to church. The seven-year plan will include partnerships with major Black religious leaders and denominations nationwide to provide technical assistance to aid churches in reaching African-American males and sustaining their membership.
“The Black church must commit to reaching African-American men to mold Black males into strong fathers, husbands, members of society and protectors of our community. A society cannot exist without sober, ethical and functional men participating and leading families into a new age of African-American successes. The Black church must impart Biblical mandates for individuals, families, the community and the nation,” said a statement from the organization.
The initiative is a part of NBCI’s larger Healing Family Initiative, which seeks to bolster African-American families against the tide of violence, poverty, moral depravity and failure.
"Given the serious issues facing African-American men, including rising levels of incarceration, drug use and unwed fatherhood — we can no longer stand by while our men openly defy God's word," said Rev. Anthony Evans, president of NBCI.
"There is something missing from the heart of the Black church — the presence of our Black brothers," Evans said. "The sisters have all the power and will have to stand down to create a balance. There will be some push and pull in the congregations, but this is a sacrifice that we all will have to make. You cannot have a church where women are in lead of every ministry,” he said.
However, not all Black clergy accept the claim that Black men are underrepresented in the church. According to Rev. Dr. Charles E. Collins, Jr., an associate minister in Duluth, GA, Black men continue to have a presence in African-American churches.
"Actually, according to the population and where Black men are the percentage is probably very appropriate," he said. "We hear they are locked up or on the streets. I would say...Black men are in church at the rate they always have been, and...very much in the roles they have been,” Collins told NBCI.
(Photo: The Plain Dealer/Landov)