Symposium strives to create stronger leaders

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Reverend Dr. Judith C. Moore, dean of the Institute of Ministerial Training, fore­casts a bright future for the leaders of the Black church.

“We want to empower and equip all of God’s servants to become the leader that God has called you to be—a vessel that glorifies God and serves with gladness,” said Moore, pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Clairton where ministerial training is held.

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LAWRENCE HAYNES III plays the piano.

Moore and the members of the board of examiners of the AME church put together a day-long leadership symposium at Clairton’s Morning Star Baptist Church to help current Black church leaders lead more effectively and ultimately tackle some of the problems that the Black Church faces today.

“We need to make the church more relevant to the needs of the people. We want bodies in church, but we need to go to the people where they are because that is going to be a part of the new church,” Moore predicted. “The church has to meet people where they are. We need to understand where people are now and then bring God in. We as leaders have to make ourselves available to people.”

Some of those issues include declining congregations, bringing the Word of God to people outside of the walls of the church, better utilizing the role of women in church and allowing them to have a bigger voice in church.

“Leadership requires knowing where you are going. Sometimes people want the title, but there is more to it than just having a title. There is work that needs to be done,” Moore said. “We want to challenge the leaders to be more sensitive to the role of women. There are so many untold stories that women have and we want to be able to give women the voice they need to be empowered and heard because women are involved in the church now more than ever. We need to speak to the women because they are the majority of the congregation that makes up the church.”

Pastors and church leaders from various denominations were on hand to teach workshops during the symposium.

Topics for the workshops included “Your Calling,” which was presided over by Rev. Dr. Helen Milner Burton, pastor of The New Ebenezer AME Church in Aliquippa.

“There are many persons who are entering the ministry and there’s a way to do it while understanding it,” Burton said. “My goal is to make sure that every person who has a call to the ministry will be able to step out and provide that ministry. There are other significant calls in ministry besides pasturing. A call to ministry is a personal thing between the caller and God.”

Reverend Timothy Caldwell, pastor of Miracle Temple Evangelistic Ministries in Duquesne, spoke about the need for intergenerational harmony in the church.

“We’re trying to get back the child and parent relationship in the church. We have been separating the two and that’s why some of our kids are out of control,” Caldwell said. “The same things that God has given to adults need to be given to our children. We need to get our children back. If you’re going to have kids in a different location in the church than the adults, then they need to be taught the same things and both can present the same perspectives when they are at home and that will bring out families back together.”

The church leadership symposium culminated with a panel discussion asking the question: “Is The Black Church Dead?”

Participants in the discussion included Rev. William C. Callaway, Mt. Olive First Baptist; Elder Alexander McLean, Gethsemane COGIC; Bishop Thelma Mitchell, Living Waters International; Rev. Dr. Jerome Stevenson, Morning Star Baptist and MAD DADS advocate, Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire.

“I’m hoping that we can put a plan together to see how we can incorporate all of the information that we have gathered into a format that we can all learn from. We are not trying to recreate the wheel. We just want to address everything and figure out how we can better equip our leaders,” Moore said.

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