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1999 NCC News Archives

First-Ever Training for Church Leaders in Effective Black Parenting
After March 24-27 Training in Atlanta, 25 Grads Will Train Others in Effective Black Parenting

March 22, 1999, ATLANTA, Ga. ---- How are churches helping to strengthen Black families for the new millennium? Here’s one way – a pioneering national program sponsored by the National Council of Churches.

March 24-27 in Atlanta, Ga., the first 25 of 50 Black Family Parenting consultants are to complete their training – the first-ever such national training for church leaders. The training – "part one" of which for this group was February 24-27 in Atlanta -- draws on faith resources and on the history and strengths of the Black family.

When they return to their home communities across the United States, the consultants are committed to recruiting at least two churches to provide at least two Parenting Seminars apiece during the coming 12 months. (A second group of 25 consultants will begin training May 19-22 and complete it June 16-19 in Nashville.)

The trainer, the Rev. Dr. Bennie Thompson of Chicago, is no stranger to a faith-based perspective. The Rev. Joe Leonard, Director of the NCC’s Office on Family Ministries and Human Sexuality, described a session during which someone quoted the Bible’s warning "Spare the rod and spoil the child" and asked Dr. Thompson to explain. He interrupted the session to conduct a mini-Bible study delving into that text, the Rev. Leonard said.

But this is the first training that Dr. Thompson has done exclusively with church leaders, said the Rev. Karen Bernstine, Coordinator, NCC Black Family Ministry Project. "Usually he works with agencies and with parents mandated to take the training. Neither have church leaders interfaced before with this kind of training."

The Effective Black Parenting initiative is made possible by a $134,760 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. and is being conducted by the NCC’s Office of Family Ministries and Human Sexuality in cooperation with 10 denominations, including historic African American churches and other denominations with significant African American membership.

The grant also will enable two national Black Family Ministry Conferences, one in 1999 in Atlanta (Theme: "Strengthening Black Families for the New Millennium") and one in 2000.

The focus on parenting grew out of work from 1991-95, funded in part by an Endowment grant, that aimed at strengthening Black families in many areas of life. During those years, 100 consultants were trained to help congregations be more aware of the needs of Black families and to be more intentional in ministering to them. The project also published a manual, Church and Family Together, edited by Karen Bernstine (Valley Forge, Judson Press 1996).

Experience led the project team to believe that there is a critical need to address faith formation in African American households, to provide places for parent education in Black congregations and to develop new resources to undergird programs of Black family ministry.

The Rev. Bernstine, who was trained and served as a consultant for the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., during that first project, is project coordinator for this second project. She is currently serving as a chaplain in the Office of Pastoral Care at New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Participants in the March 24-27 training hail from: Chicago, Harvey, Gurnee and Maywood, Ill.; Brooklyn, New York; Garner, Charlotte and Whitakers, N.C.; Hyattsville, Md.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Nashville, Jackson and Memphis, Tenn.; Orangeburg, S.C.; Paterson, N.J.; Detroit, Mich.; Carson, Calif.; Dayton and University Heights, Ohio, and Valley Forge, Pa.

Participating Denominations: Black Family Ministry Project
African Methodist Episcopal Church
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church

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