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Forums slated for Black Millennials

Sponsored by the African American Intercultural Congregational Support ministry, discussions are designed to gain insight into a new generation of leaders

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Joshua Eckstein via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — The African American Intercultural Congregational Support ministry announces its inaugural “Black Millennials and the Church” forum. The online event is now scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

You may now register for this initial forum by clicking here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

This the first in a series of Black Millennial listening forums where the church will have the opportunity to listen, understand and acquire insight into perspectives on the future of ministry and mission from a new generation of church leaders.

The forum also provides an opportunity for the broader African American church to gain insight into those issues that often prove to be disconnects between African American Millennials and the church.

“The Black Millennial virtual forum is an intergenerational event,” said the Rev. Michael Lynn Moore, Associate for the African American Intercultural Congregational Support Ministry. “This event will allow us to highlight dynamic African American Millennial panelists and their views, perspectives and visons on the future of the church.”

“African American Millennials cannot be put in the category of the notion of Millennials leaving the church as ‘Nones and Dones,’” Moore said. “But rather than leaving the church in large numbers, it seems many African American Millennials look for churches that seem to fit their preferences.”

Moore says all too often, churches look for ways to increase the number and engagement of Millennials, but don’t necessarily hear what the Millennials are saying they need in order to become or stay involved in the church. He noted that a study by the Pew Research Center indicates that African American Millennials are more religious than other groups, but less so than their traditional elders.

“We’re not seeing a wearing away as much as we’re seeing a move, a transitioning, a repositioning,” he said. “African American Millennials desire to still go to church and be part of one, but it is not the traditional experience they are after.”

“They want the same flavor of traditional Black church,” Moore said, “but entirely different substance, substance that is meaningful and relevant to the season of their lives that leads to substantive action in the world.”

“They know they should be in church,” Moore said. “They just want to attend one that allows them to dress and sound like the culture they love and have an affinity for.”

Their message to the church is this, according to Moore: “‘Give me something to do and open seats at the table because we have a huge amount to offer the church.’”

“We’re hoping this is just the first of many of these types of events in the Black Presbyterian church where we can connect generations, where they take the opportunity to truly listen to each other to advance a common goal,” Moore said.

The event is being moderated by Sarah Bridges, a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) in the African American Intercultural office who is starting a year-long mission in the program.

To date the panel includes:

Troy Cates, Jr.

Troy Cates, Jr. who is studying mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science at Alabama A&M University. Cates is a member of Knox Presbyterian Church in Baltimore.

Olivia Guthrie

Olivia Guthrie, who was born and raised in Baltimore and is also a member of Knox Presbyterian Church. For years Guthrie has been active in her church, including planning events, ushering and attending committee meetings. Guthrie is now off to the biggest faith journey to date — being a deacon.

Malik Murphy

Malik Murphy, a member of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Winnsboro, South Carolina. Murphy is a freshman at Coastal Carolina University and intends to pursue a degree in marine science.

Joy Williams

Joy Williams, a graduate of University of Alabama at Birmingham with a degree in mass communications and a minor in African American studies. She was confirmed in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at age 13 and was most recently a member of Cote Brilliante Presbyterian Church in St. Louis.

The African American Intercultural Congregational Support Office assists the PC(USA) in addressing the needs of African American congregations. It works in partnership with mid councils to nurture conversations and facilitate ministries that will transform African American churches into more vibrant and healthier congregations.

The office emphasizes principles that will encourage, nurture, support, motivate, equip and empower leaders and disciples of Jesus Christ to become more intentional about engaging in spiritual practices that nurture a transformational spirituality and lead toward transforming communities into the Beloved Community or the realm of God on Earth.

In the PC(USA) there are approximately 460 predominantly African American congregations and an estimated 80,000 African American Presbyterians.

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