As the year 2017 closed out, various leaders and organizational representatives have already placed their bids for 2018. Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC21) conducted a ‘press announcement and stakeholders luncheon’ to increase awareness about the annual summit. Widely known as the National Prison Summit on Mass Incarceration, this year’s host is Bishop Jerry Maynard, senior pastor at the Nashville based Cathedral of Praise Church.
Rev. Dr. Fred Allen is the national director for SBC21, and he is already working with a dedicated team of individuals to assure its success.
“I’m interested in connecting with others who share the vision, not just in Nashville but anywhere else in the nation and internationally,” said Allen. “The problem of mass incarceration and warehousing people is growing, but we can work together for do-able solutions.”
Ms. Toska Medlock Lee, National Prison Ministry Program and Meeting Planner for SBC21, moderated the informative luncheon. In attendance were local elected officials, including: Council-woman-at-Large Sharon Hurt; members of law enforcement, e.g., Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway, Davidson County Criminal Clerk Howard Gentry); Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School representative, Rahim Buford; United Methodist Church officials, including Director of Civil Rights and Society Jeanie Ray Moore; Gospel music entertainment mogul, Tammy Taylor; One Entity; and many others from church, business and community. Amid the beautifully unique art work and the healthy lunch served, some major decisions were discussed and implemented.
SBC21 is a national program of the United Methodist Church, and is committed to offering trained professional coaches to local church settings assigned to clergy, partner congreg-ations and annual conferences in a contractual agreement.
The goal of this network is to identify clergy and lay leaders with proven expertise who are willing to be trained as SBC21 coaches and deploy them to work with clergy and lay leadership teams in local church settings.
A United Methodist Church spokesperson said: “We are designed to assist predominantly Black congregations to become more efficient in mission and ministry. SBC21 works directly with clergy and laity as a resource system that connects local congregations with best pracices and strategies for effective results-driven ministry. The partner churches receive rene-wed hope, inspiration, and encouragement to go forward with the vision God has given the church.
The group believes in the power of the Holy Spirit who directs guides and helps the church carry out its great commission.”
The annual Summit on Mass Incarceration will take center stage in Nashville in 2018.