Distinguished scholars and ministers will come together as the Brite Divinity School hosts the second annual State of the Black Church Summit and Awards Banquet. The theme of this year’s event is “Linking divine justice to social justice.”Stacey Floyd-Thomas, assistant professor of ethics and director of black church studies for Brite, said this event is an effort to illustrate Brite’s commitment in highlighting the rich heritage of the black Christian church.
This event enables people to “gain wider knowledge of, deeper appreciation for, and increased sensitivity to key issues and developments within the black Christian experience in America,” Floyd-Thomas said in an e-mail.
Robert Michael Franklin Jr., professor of social ethics at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, is the keynote speaker at this year’s event.
“African-American institutions have lost focus, energy and vision” since the Civil Rights Movement and to reverse the situation, the black community and America must be “challenged to support community solutions,” Franklin said.
Floyd-Thomas said the summit involves two separate but related events – the summit/luncheon and the awards ceremony/dinner.
The summit/luncheon is the first event where a panel of five black scholars, ministers and community leaders will discuss issues and concerns related to the black Christian tradition.
Melanie L. Harris, assistant professor of religion, is one of the panelists who will be talking about race, religion and the media.
“I will be looking at how the media, and the images of media are interpreted through religious and racial lens,” Harris said.
She said incidents, such as Hurricane Katrina, have raised issues of racism and economic injustice that will be discussed from the church’s perspective during the event.
Franklin said during the event, he will focus on the topic of his next book, “Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope to African American Communities and American Public Life.”
Floyd-Thomas said the award ceremony/dinner celebrates the creative genius, cultural heritage and liberating mission of the black church tradition with a focus on the accomplishments of leaders of the black church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. will be honored during this ceremony. Holmes is a pastor emeritus of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church of Dallas where he served for 28 years.
Floyd-Thomas said Holmes was designated as the 2006 honoree because of his career full of diverse and stellar accomplishments as a wonderful example of the black church tradition.