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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Minnesota’s only Black-led PC(USA) church addresses the opportunity gap for Black youth


Churches ‘have to be about the business of taking care of young people,’ says co-pastor of Liberty Community Church

January 27, 2024

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The 21st Century Academy is part of the ministry of Liberty Community Church. Liberty Community Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota has created numerous programs to address systemic issues in its community. Liberty is a Matthew 25 church. (Photo by Rich Copley/Presbyterian Mission Agency)

“We have to be about the business of taking care of young people. It can’t be all about just us here within the church confines. It’s got to be about other people,” said the Rev. Dr. Ralph Galloway, co-pastor of Liberty Community Church.

As a new church development more than 20 years ago, Liberty Community Church listened to the voices of young people in their community to develop programs that would improve their sense of safety and hope for the future. A survey conducted by two teenagers set in motion an evolving and expanding set of services that started with youth drop-in services and a Freedom School in the summer. Today, after-school and youth programs focused on academics, arts enrichment, financial literacy and college enrollment bolster the efforts of the congregation to “close the school-to-prison pipeline” and pave a path to advanced education and financial opportunity for their community.

“I’m not amazed; how could it not grow? It’s the result of love and dedication,” said the Rev. Jermaine Ross-Allam, the founding executive director of the church’s 21st Century Academy, describing how the after-school program that he helped to start under the mentorship of the Revs. Drs. Ralph and Alika Galloway has blossomed over the years to serve young scholars in kindergarten through 12th grade in North Minneapolis. At a time when Historically Black Colleges and Universities struggle and historically Black Presbyterian churches face closures due to the long legacy of slavery and structural racism resulting in the historic racial wealth gap, Ross-Allam, who is now the director for the PC(USA)’s Center for the Repair of Historic Harms, lifts up the African American community’s belief in and commitment to education and faith and the opportunities church communities have to foster them together.

“Working with the Revs. Galloway really showed me that it is important for us to take that tradition and continue to build on it,” said Ross-Allam. “It makes sense to have a church building. It makes sense to have educated clergy. It makes sense to use the space available to educate children. And it makes sense to pray without ceasing for their well-being.”

Prayer is essential for building on our tradition of faithful community education and expanding programs that serve the community in life-giving ways, according to Ross-Allam: “It makes sense to pray and to continually be inspired about ways to further the interests of our people, our community, our faith, and to give more life and to give more hope.”

 Beth Waltemath, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus: Black-led PC(USA) church addresses the opportunity gap for Black youth

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Molly Atkinson, Administrative Assistant, 1001 New Worshiping Communities, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Yesenia Ayala, Mission Specialist, Financial Aid for Service, Theology, Formation & Evangelism, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray

God of every generation, we gratefully praise you for calling and claiming people of every time and place — guiding us and inviting us to follow you. Be with us on our pilgrimage, granting us refuge in this ever-changing world until our hearts find peace and rest in you. Amen.