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The "Great Gathering"

March 1 - 3, 2010   |   Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina

The “Great Gathering” in Columbia will attract 12,000 attendees and seeks to combine the congregational, social, political and spiritual strengths of the three African American Methodist denominations whose collective histories date back more than 215 years and whose aggregate congregants currently total more that 7 million.  In the words of the event’s organizers, “This gathering of three powerful denominations will be a major signal to all that the Church will now take an even more proactive and aggressive role in addressing the critical problems that are hurting our communities nationwide”.

One of the most pressing issues recognized by organizers of the “Great Gathering” is the “State and Condition of the African American Male.”

Despite the ascendancy of an African American male to the position of President of the United States, Black men in this nation continue to be much maligned.  The large number of Black men who are incarcerated as opposed those attending institutions of higher learning; Black-on-Black crime; poverty; unemployment; fatherhood avoidance; and self-esteem issues are but a few of the myriad of problems African American men must face on a daily basis.  The haunting, ever-growing question is, “What can we do about this situation?”

Nationwide, there are a number of national mentoring and self-help programs designed to assist and motivate African American males in a positive fashion.  There are also a litany of local and regional programs and initiatives aimed at turning Black youth around to the benefit of the community.

However, to date, there has not been a nationwide effort created and implemented by one of the most influential and powerful segments of the African American community, the Church.  Such a movement to address the many issues affecting and influencing Black men would indeed have a major impact.

The development of such an initiative, targeting African American males from age 12 to 25 years old, is one of the major goals that the AME, AME Zion and CME Churches hope to accomplish during the historic meeting of the churches in March 2010 in Columbia.

The possible approach and elements of the initiative can be developed prior to and during the “Great Gathering” and ultimately implemented by the AME, AME Zion and CME Churches collectively.  The proposed elements of this Initiative are consistent with the historic missions of all three Churches that stress spiritual uplift, education, community outreach and economic empowerment.

Based on the critical and wide spread needs of this initiative, the Churches are seeking support from willing corporate, government and non-profit partners.

In conclusion, the “Great Gathering” in itself has true historic implications for the African American community.  But the real impact will be realized in the months and years to come, when more young African American men can be guided and assisted in becoming positive and productive members of our community.