By Aswad Walker | Defender Network | word in black
This Publish was originally published on Advocate Network
(WIB) – An oft-heard criticism of the black church is that you can find one on every corner in “the hood”, but little or nothing changes. While this criticism is an oversimplification, as there are faith-based institutions that offer varying levels of service to the community, it speaks to the lack of collaboration among churches. There is now an effort to bring congregations out of their individual silos so they can connect with others and together offer services and programs that can meet more of the needs of more people.
This effort, aptly named “Community Connect,” is the brainchild of Dr. Willie Mae Lewis, founder and director of the Women’s Resource Center.
“Community Connect is about creating a network of care so that the institutions and leaders our people most trust, support and listen to – religious institutions and their pastors – can lead the way in answering the call to heal our people. “, Lewis said. .
The idea behind Community Connect has its roots in the ancient African saying “I am because we are”, a concept that emphasizes that a group working together on an agreement is greater than the sum of its parts.
“We bring religious communities together and ask them to share with us what they do best, what their congregations offer in terms of services and programs. One church may have a strong pantry program, while another may have a strong health ministry. Yet another may offer after-school or STEM workshops for young people. By bringing all these congregations and all these services under one tent, our community can then receive the services it needs. And icing on the cake, these services are provided by us for us,” Lewis said.
Community Connect is about creating a network of care so that the institutions and leaders our people trust, support and listen to the most – faith-based institutions and their pastors – can lead the way in answering the call to heal our people.
DR. WILLIE MAE LEWIS, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF THE WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTER
“This holy collaboration also does much to break down the walls between congregations, as I now have a host of other congregations to send my members to if those other congregations are better equipped to provide the services my members may need. And the reverse is also true, these other pastors can send their members to my doors for services in which we specialize,” said Dr. Corey Wilson, Bishop and Pastor of Christian Faith Missionary Baptist Church.
“I fully believe that we honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through this collaborative work that we do,” Wilson added.
“This kind of collaboration is long overdue, but it’s here now, and it’s a blessing. And we are increasing in number day by day,” Lewis said.
Community Connect currently has 10 participating congregations, though Lewis and Wilson expect that number to triple by the end of the year, particularly as we approach the holiday season, a time known to put in highlights community members in need.
Some of Community Connect’s current member congregations include Trinity United Methodist Church (UMC), Trinity East UMC, Evangelist Chapel AME, Black Madonna Shrine, Riverside UMC, St. Mary’s UMC, and Boynton Chapel UMC.
We are more than ready to expand the number of our participating members, as this not only means that we will be able to offer more services, but that more people will be able to meet their intellectual, bodily and spiritual needs,” said Lewis.