Friday, August 17, 2012

The Southern ACTION Coalition: A More Fair and Balance Representation of the Black Faith Community


R3 Contributor

When the President made his stance regarding Same Sex Marriage I feared that there would be a certain backlash from a contingency within the black church.  What I didn’t prepare for, however, was the media’s local and national recapitulation of the black preacher, church and community being consistent with the stance of a particular segment.  If one is novice or untrained regarding the particularities and diversity of the black faith experience it may be easy to assert that all black people of faith are homophobic, hypocritical, anti-intellectual and that black faith leaders are all pimpish priest and not prophets.  To be clear, there have been a few exceptions projected nationally (and even fewer locally, in Memphis).  Yet, in a broader sense there seems to be a strategy by some to demonize, reduce and re-project black faith as buffoonery at worse and misguided spirituality at best.  This mythical, monolithic portrayal has seemingly diluted the divinity of our complex faith, expressions of love and hope in the American Democratic system and cast it as a divisive and demonic display of opportunism. 

I believe God calls us all in our various vineyards to raise our voice (not always in agreement, that’s unison, but still in harmony) to adequately represent the beautiful hues of our humanity and the complex cords and tones of our theology to continue to help us progress.  We must find a way for all of these voices to be adequately and authentically represented. 

For instance, on the issue of marriage equality, the black faith community is varied in its perspectives and convictions.  The problem emerges when one faction of our community is portrayed as speaking for all of the community (i.e. the Coalition of African American Pastors – I’m an African-American pastor... and they DO NOT speak for me!).  We need a more fair and balanced representation of who we are.  

To that end, we have been led to form the Southern ACTION Coalition (SAC) - a diverse cadre of thinkers and ministerial leaders who are deeply committed to a faithful representation of the diversity of theological thought and practice that represent the legacy of the black church. We seek to provide a fresh and relevant perspective as well as offer substantive suggestions and actions that will advance the cause of social justice in our various faith communities. While we honor and appreciate the work of other ministerial organizations, we aim to offer a new vantage point that seeks to demonstrate a more representative group of ministry leaders. 

Going forward the SAC will be faithful in our pledge to be a body of faith leaders who “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.” Our goal is to empower, educate & inspire the entire community, including those from different backgrounds of faith (and those who do not identify themselves with any particular faith) through action. 

 Below is our press release we issued on Thursday, August 16, 2012

THE SOUTHERN ACTION COALITION PUSHES “SOULS TO THE POLLS” CAMPAIGN Local Body of Ministry Leaders Call for Diversity in Political Talk & Initiatives

The Southern ACTION Coalition (SAC) is a diverse cadre of thinkers and ministerial leaders who are deeply committed to a faithful representation of the diversity of theological thought and practice that represent the legacy of the black church. We seek to provide a fresh and relevant perspective as well as offer substantive suggestions and actions that will advance the cause of social justice in our various faith communities. While we honor and appreciate the work of other clergy organizations, we aim to offer a new vantage point that seeks to demonstrate a more representative group of ministry leaders. Moreover, we desire to depict varied viewpoints of the black church while not assuming that our community must arrive at a singular opinion about any matter simply because we share ancestry.

The SAC currently consists of 15 local ministerial leaders and 12 local ministries. Other leaders in the greater Memphis area and beyond are in the process of pledging their support and involvement, collaborating where they feel led. In light of the scope of social ills that plague our communities, we have decided that the first of our many public presentations and stances will focus on the November 2012 election. Voter apathy and suppression have inspired us to begin to develop the “Souls to the Polls Campaign.” This campaign is an extension of efforts that have taken place around the country – therefore, we stand in solidarity with any group who is involved in similar efforts to register, identify and transport all voters.

Furthermore, the SAC, while varied in regards to our individual stances on marriage equality, is collectively committed to ensure that our local communities are informed and inspired to participate in the November election. We believe that the issue of marriage equality should not skew our vote one way or another and definitely ought not to deter us from voting at all. Moreover, we do not assert that one opinion regarding any political issue can sufficiently represent all of the black church given the varied denominations of churches and diverse experiences of each believer.

Going forward the SAC will be faithful in our pledge to be a body of faith leaders who “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.” Our goal is to empower, educate & inspire the entire community, including those from different backgrounds of faith (and those who not identify themselves with any particular faith) through action. For contact information, please call 901-303-8898

3 comments:

Chandra Kamaria said...

Quick question: How will you ensure that this doesn't become another collection of talking heads? We have enough of those....

Pastor_Earle said...

We have been in deliberations about that fact... Hence the reason ACTION is stated in all caps. One of our "thematic priorities" as we have dubbed them is:

"We seek to be a group focused on providing resources and strategies for MOVEMENT and ACTION in Black Churches."

The movement and action will be BOTH individual AND collective. We will move individually in our local faith communities as well as collectively in regards to statments, legislative proposals, community service projects and ministerial ventures as well.


Notice that our first public gesture was NOT a press conference. Not to suggest that press conferences are counterproductive, however, they have come to be associated as "hot air" in recent years.

Chandra Kamaria said...

Yes press conferences are also publicity opps for many. I look forward to seeing this in motion in the community, especially Memphis but I think this has the ability to be national, in spite of its moniker. The Black Power Movement was born in a Mississippi field when Stokely Carmichael uttered the phrase for the first time. The point is that our movements have historically been born in the South. The SAC has a legacy already in place so the only thing is to extend it and make its presence felt.

I'm glad that there is a representation now for us within the faith who have another view of the Christian walk. As a Christian, I find myself disassociating from many within the Black Church bc of elementary, traditional, and largely unquestioned & unsubstantiated teachings. Often times, I have to wonder are many of them reading the same Bible as I am. You have my full support. Of course, this will be met with some opposition. But I know you can handle it.