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1999 NCC News Archives

19 More Church Leaders Trained In Effective Black Parenting
 Total of 39 Now Credentialed to Train Others in NCC Project’s Faith-Based Curriculum

July 15, 1999, NEW YORK CITY -- 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’ Black Family Ministry Project.

A total of 39 persons now have completed intensive training for church leaders in Effective Black Parenting and have been credentialed to teach this new curriculum, which draws on faith resources and on the Black family’s history and strengths.

These consultants are committed to recruiting at least two churches in their home communities across the nation to provide at least two Effective Black Parenting seminars apiece during the coming 12 months. A first group of 20 was trained in February and March in Atlanta, and a second group of 19 in May and June in Nashville, Tenn., toward a total of 50 consultants in this first phase of the program.

The Effective Black Parenting training is a tried and true program created by the Center for the Improvement of Child Caring (CICC). "We are pioneering this faith-based adaptation, testing how it can move into congregations and help people present it from a Christian perspective," said Josselyn Bennett of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, Chair of the NCC Black Family Ministry Project Staff Team.

The local seminars will be evaluated between now and December 2000, with an eye to recommending the model for wider use by churches.

The Black Family Ministry Project: Effective Black Parenting Training initiative is made possible by a $134,760 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. and is sponsored by the NCC Commission on Family Ministries and Human Sexuality in cooperation with 10 of the NCC’s 35 member 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 December 2-4, 1999 in Atlanta (Theme: "Strengthening Black Families for the New Millennium"), and one in 2000.

The trainer, the Rev. Dr. Bennie C. Thompson of Chicago, a psychotherapeutic counselor and United Methodist pastor, is no stranger to a faith-based perspective. But this is the first time that Dr. Thompson – an experienced trainer of Effective Black Parenting instructors – has done trainings 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."

Dr. Thompson developed the faith-based adaptation at the NCC’s request, and his Nashville and Atlanta training were rich in scriptural principles for child-rearing and for nurturing spiritual development in children. He draws on those principles as he works through the Effective Black Parenting training, which includes modules on how to praise, confront and ignore effectively; modern self-discipline; setting family rules; pride in Blackness; preventing drug abuse, using chit-chat and special incentives.

He also led the consultants in considering ways to bring the Effective Black Parenting training into churches. "Have a role play during worship, as part of your sermon; for example, on how you do a family discussion on drugs," he urged. "Now, some churches will resist that, and say, ‘You are bringing the streets into the church.’ I say, ‘Sometimes the streets are already in there.’"

The focus on parenting grew out of work from 1989-95, funded in part by a Lilly 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 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.

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

Newly credentialed to lead the Black Family Ministry Project faith-based Effective Black Parenting workshops are:

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