Summit on Black Church to explore 'ministry with the poor'

By the Rev. Jeffrey Salley

COLUMBIA—“Being in Ministry with the Poor” is the focus of this year’s Summit on the Black Church, a gathering of United Methodist African-American clergy and laity held every other year.

The South Carolina Annual Conference and Connectional Ministries African-American Ministries Division will sponsor the 2014 event, set for Oct. 2-4 at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton, 2100 Bush River Road, Columbia.

The Summit on the Black Church celebrates the presence and ministry of African-American congregations in South Carolina and provides resources and training to further strengthen, equip and empower local congregations to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

This will be the third Summit. The gathering features keynote worship addresses, several plenaries, a banquet and practical workshops for clergy and laity focusing on leading effective ministry in the local church.

The 2014 Summit will aims to equip and empower congregations to impact the variables that cause poverty in their local context. Energies will center on how congregations can directly impact their communities and the variable related to poverty.

The keynote speaker is Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, resident bishop of the Western Ohio Annual Conference. Plenary speakers include the Rev. Rudy Rasmus, senior pastor, St. John’s United Methodist Church, Houston, Texas, and author of “See the Love, Be the Love, Share the Love;” the Rev. Romal Tune, author of “God’s Graffiti” and founder of Faith for Change; and Bishop Kenneth Carder and Dr. Carolyn Prince, of the Campaign for Children in Poverty.

Case studies will be presented by Wesley UMC, Columbia; Edisto Fork UMC, Orangeburg; Bennettsville-Cheraw Area Cooperative, Bennettsville; and the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council. The case studies will focus on various ministries such as feeding the hungry, HIV/AIDS and children in poverty.

The workshops scheduled for Oct. 4 include “Where Have All the Prophets Gone? Reclaiming Prophetic Preaching in your Context,” Dr. William Bobby McClain; “HIV and AIDS Awareness,” the Rev. Paul Gasque; “How to Help your Church Engage its Community,” Jada Charley; “Strengthening Children and Families,” Dr. Carolyn Prince and Joan Johnakin; “Building Relationships with Schools in Your Community,” Dr. Debbie Rice and Robert Maddox; “The Evolution of Housing Solutions: A Habitat Perspective,” Stefanie Barnette, the community outreach director for Habitat for Humanity of York County; “Finding the Voice of Advocacy,” Bernie Mazyck; and “Creating Healthier Communities,” Lee Porter and Birley Wright, Children’s Trust of South Carolina.

Two workshops, “Identifying Opportunities for Ministry with the Poor in Your Community,” will be led by Dr. Sheila Elliott, Mazyck and General Board of Global Ministries’ Regina Henderson and Mary Ellen Kris.

Summit will also have two poverty simulations facilitated by the Rev. Beth Templeton. These poverty simulations will serve as a catalyst to help persons conceptualize the myriad challenges impacting local communities.

South Carolina Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston will lead the closing worship service and sending forth celebration as attendees are challenged to go forth and create corridors of faith, hope and love with those who are the least among us.

Through the Summit on the Black Church, organizers hope to challenge lay persons and clergy to find strategies for ministry to meet the needs of the community, equip leaders with a “voice” to address the needs of the community and make the Gospel of Jesus Christ relevant as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Churches, businesses and individuals are encouraged to purchase souvenir ads. For further information concerning the souvenir ads, hotel accommodations and registration, visit

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