With a new take on white glove etiquette, a local conference is sounding the alarm, calling all deacons to step outside their comfort zone-- four safe walls of the church--to help impact the lives of the young men on the streets.
The goal is to guide them back to school, to college, to a place of respect in their communities.
Pastor James Baylark, who is hosting the conference, said he hopes that the Deacons for Defense workshops will bring out the crowd to learn some time-tested approaches for hard-to-reach youths, then bring that information back to their own churches.
The event is about helping senior deacons understand their role and responsibility not only in the home, and in the church, but also in the community. He said that there has to be more effort to stop kids from dropping out, and stop the violence.
“This is a call to faith-based men to find out where do they want to stop this?” Pastor Baylark said.“We want to reach out to all churches and work together to deal with some of these issues.”
Pastor Baylark, of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Perris, grew up in South Los Angeles, and recalls his own mother’s efforts to keep the family on track in a tough neighborhood by emphasizing God, education and respect. As a young man, he earned his degree in computer technology, and later his master’s degree in business administration.
The event will be held on July 21 at Moreno Valley Parks and Recreation Center Grand Ballroom from noon till 3:00 p.m.
“When the deacons leave the event, we want to make sure they leave with a different mindset,” Pastor Baylark said. “A lot of times they are locked in because no one takes them out of the four walls of the church. That’s what this conference does.”
Jared Baisley, a youth minister at the church, said teens and youths are wandering aimlessly through life, but he feels they are ready for something different. It wasn’t so long ago that he was among them.
Baisley, 25, battled through the death of a close friend, and set out searching for something real and tangible. He found it, of all places, at church.
From San Francisco, he came to attend the University of California, Riverside. In between getting there and graduating, he dropped out of school, and he realized he wasn’t even close to reaching his potential.
“I was that guy; I was wandering; I didn't have a job. I was just looking crazy,” he said. “Stuff that I had around me wasn’t filling that emptiness.”
Baisley, now a church choir leader, eventually graduated from UCR with a double major in business and history.
These days, he doesn’t feel that church is a hard sell. The past year has seen an increase in teens and youths at his church. He believes they are waking up to see that the social lifestyle available on the streets is not going anywhere. Outreach is important, he said.
“It’s all about visibility, what we try to do is just be seen, out at picnics, at bowling. We just do things out in public,” he said.
Street Positive CEO Terry Boykins is chairing a workshop with Brother to Brother, a national mentoring team of professional Black men. He said now is the time to impact the statistics. Young Black males are getting killed every day.
“With all the issues on the streets, whether violence or drugs, or disruptive behavior to family and community, a lot of people within the church have not ministered to young boys,” he said.
According to a report last year, African American teens and men are 14 times more likely than whites to be killed in California.
Mr. Boykins said the church is historically known for staying clear of the streets where they are most needed. Especially Black churches have had a limited role in stopping school drop-outs, or stopping the violence, he said.
Boykins will hold a workshop on the importance of Black men creating a legacy for their children, and he will highlight mentoring approaches that fraternities and national mentoring associations have successfully used to help teens and youths.
Several of the Divine 9 Black Greek fraternities are also participating.
He said that the other problem is that churches do not seem to network, and faith-based interaction on the issues is limited in the community. He looks forward to the organizations coming together to learn from each other.
“They aren’t getting together often enough at the level of support to address some of these social ills,” said Boykins, a board member of Brother to Brother. “It’s about giving them perspective on what’s really happening on the streets.”
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