The Ministry Center of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden was filled with pastors and religious leaders Friday for a conference with the message that only the church can fix the plight of African-Americans.
The Collective Empowerment Group’s annual Empowerment Conference — with this year’s theme, “Creating Legacy.COM (Cutting-Edge Opportunities 4 Ministry)” — welcomed George Fraser, CEO of Black Wealth Alliance, as the keynote speaker.
Fraser emphasized the church’s role in lifting the black community.
“It is my vision that the church has to lead the charge when closing the income gap between blacks and whites in America,” Fraser said.
Rev. Jonathan Weaver, pastor of Greater Mount Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church, sat at a front table during the event. In 1993, Weaver organized African-American pastors who were forced to meet in storefronts after being denied loans and services from area banks.
“It is imperative that the black community, driven by the black church, transform who we are as a people and the only way that we can do this is collectively,” Weaver said, adding that in the era of President Trump, African-Americans must do more for themselves.
The clergymen said the time has come for church leaders to do more to empower their members once they leave the pews.
“One of the last bastions of hope is the church,” said Rev. Anthony G. Maclin, pastor of the Sanctuary at Kingdom Square. “Churches have to come together so that we can raise the conscious level of our people.”
Rev. Bobby Manning, pastor of the First Baptist Church of District Heights, said he host events at laundromats and other neighborhood venues to connect to the community.
“Our churches need to be about empowering people and that is giving them the tools and skills to help them along the way,” Manning said.