In his book, “The Black Church is the Black Community’s Cornerstone,” Horace Baldwin wrote: ”For over two hundred years the black church has played various roles in the black community including a temporary refuge from the oppressions of slavery, a needed sanctuary on the ‘Freedom Trail,’ a place of emotional release from racial discrimination, and vehicle of social change.”
In many ways some black churches have continued that legacy of service to our communities. However, given the rise in poverty, black on black violence, the disproportionate number of black men in prison and number of black women raising children alone – it is time for the church to re-establish its leadership position. Below are 5 actions we believe the black church can take to help move us forward.
Transform black buying power into black wealth
As the largest socioeconomic institution in the community, the black church is central to economic development. There have been many “buy black” campaigns launched in our neighborhoods, but few of them have had the widespread support of the majority of black churches. If African-American congregations decided to spend 10 percent of their weekly expenditures with black-owned businesses and invest another small percentage in life insurance or other similar investment instruments – the economic and political power created by the community would transform it almost immediately.
Invest tithes and offerings into black-owned businesses
According to the National Black Church Initiative website, the main problems confronting small minority businesses has always been lack of capital and qualified manpower, and the inability to sustain cash flow and market share. The NBCI has developed a program to help small businesses overcome these problem areas through seminars that introduce new techniques and strategies.
But the NBCI initiative doesn’t go far enough. The black church manages financial resources primarily taken from black families and which must be returned to our communities through direct investments in small to medium-sized black-owned businesses.
Reestablish itself as the moral authority of the black community
Historically, the black church has been the genesis of great leadership. Black preachers inspired and shaped the leaders of the civil rights era who were routinely at the forefront of efforts to free black people from the injustices of a racist society. African-Americans today need the church to regain its national moral authority and leadership. At the very least, the church should serve to check and balance the demoralizing content and values that are streaming into our community via mainstream music, film and politicians.
Convince its members to bank with black-owned banks
According to Dr. Amos Wilson in his book titled,“Blueprint for Black Power: A Moral, Political, and Economic Imperative for the Twenty-First Century,” if African-American congregations transferred their full bank accounts or a sizable portion thereof from white financial institutions to black ones, it would make hundreds of millions of dollars – perhaps billions, given black purchasing power in 2013 – available for economically empowering the black community.
Declare a National Health Emergency
The National Black Church Initiative has issued a Health Emergency Declaration for its 34,000 churches that will initiate proven health prevention strategies and models that will begin to alter, transform and eliminate the negative health status of blacks in this country.
This is a good start, however, more black churches should be encouraged to join the initiative. Additionally, more than just suggesting that folks visit their doctors more frequently and eat more fruits and vegetables, NBCI should partner with local health practitioners to develop holistic health and wellness strategies to transform the health and well-being of the black community.