A historic Conference of National Black Churches (CNBC) convenes in Florida forming the largest collective of Black ecumenical leaders in the nation to address crucial issues in the African-American community and African diaspora—
Contact: Rachel Noerdlinger
Thursday, February 18, 2010–Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, the nationally renowned faith leader and Pastor of Grace Baptist Church convened an unprecedented gathering of ecumenical leaders from historically African-American denominations under the banner of the Conference of National Black Churches (CNBC) from Tuesday, February 16th through Thursday, February 18th in Miami, Florida. This historic event was keynoted by Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network and one of the country’s foremost leaders for civil rights.
The movement re-launched by CNBC hasn’t existed in nearly a decade and revives a remarkable tradition of activism and ecumenical Black church traditions. Together the groups within the CNBC represent more than 21 million African-Americans and people in the African Diaspora and the collective forms the most unified Black church voice around the issues of service, social justice and activism. In the last ten years there has been no united voice of the Black faith community and this may be the first effort of its kind since the civil rights movement to focus so decisively on policy and social justice issues and social service needs.
The historic conference was an assemblage of denominations including The African Methodist Episcopal Church, The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, The Church of God & Christ, The National Baptist Convention of America Incorporated International, The National Baptist Convention USA Incorporated, The National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, and the Progressive National Baptist Convention Incorporated.
According to Dr. Richardson: “This is the latest expression in the long journey of the black church’s engagement in the empowerment of black people. I’m highly honored to stand in this tradition, and on the shoulders of the faith strugglers that have preceded before us”
Highlights of the conference included four major broad areas of interest that the group will take action upon that impact African-American life: The HIV/AIDS crisis and all of the other health issues that disproportionately impact African Americans; Education; Social Justice and Public Policy; and Economic Empowerment and Development. The institutional partners that CNBC has chosen to work on these issues include in the health arena, the Balm in Gilead which has done outstanding work in the United States and Africa, and Family Wize which has the support of United Way in distributing pharmaceutical discount cards to people without adequate insurance while allowing them to afford the medicines they need.
In Social Justice and Policy, the CNBC has partnered with National Action Network (NAN), presided over by Reverend Al Sharpton and Chaired by Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson. NAN has a national membership that has a vast reach within the United States and internationally and is leading the way in the civil rights and activism. Around the issue of Education, CNBC has partnered with The Children’s Defense Fund founded and led by Marion Wright Edelman who has agreed to play a pivotal role. Finally, in Economic Development the primary partner is Global Hue Advertising, an international marketing firm founded and run by Donald Coleman that is the largest African-American marketing and advertising entity in the country.
The CNBC also has strategic dialogue regarding support in a unified way the people of Haiti and each of the denominations shared what they are doing to provide aid to Haiti in their respective regions. CNBC will aid Haiti with reconstruction that extends beyond immediate relief efforts.
Religious leaders left the conference feeling rejuvenated including Senior Bishop George W.C. Walker, Dr. Sr., of the AME Zion Church who stated: “I am absolutely impressed with the energy that I’m feeling and seeing around the restoring of the CNBC. The scripture is right and where there is no vision the people perish. Dr. Richardson has the right vision for this organization. I believe the time is right for its resurgence.”