Black churches in the U.S. have been urged to become driving forces toward the goal of a "new world order" based on values of race and class equality and new global consciousness.
Participants here at the second annaul conference of the Black Theology Project (BTP) were told that black churches historically have been leaders of the U.S. black community in the civil rights struggle. Black churches now must expand their vision to worldwide justice, speakers told 300 black church leaders attending the three-day BTP conference at Mount Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church.
The Black Theology Project, with a national membership of 1,000 black leaders, is directed by the Rev. Muhammad Kenyatta, former Philadelphia director of the Black Economic Development Conference (BEDC). The BEDC received wide publicity in the early 1970s for its Black Manifesto and demand for "reparations" of $500 million from white churches and synagogues.
Mr. Kenyatta said two goals of the BTP are to build a Christian liberation coalition of minority races and whites in the struggle for social justice, and to bring back church theology into local churches again.
The black church has been "the main institution in the black community" throughout history, Mr. Kenyatta said. He said he believed the black church is "the best model of Christianity in America."
The Rev. M. William Howard, chairman of the National Council of Churches' (NCC) Commission on Justice, Liberation and Human Fulfillment, told the BTP conference that the effectiveness of black churches is threatened.
"The black church is bobbing and weaving in the uncertain currents of the world around it," he said ". . . More and more, the black church, which teaches upward class mobility - consumerism - is a black church designed to be doomed by its own sermons."
The "chains that bind us" are not confined to a neighborhood or country but to a "worldwide economic system which thrives on cheap labor, cheap natural resources, racism and mindless consumerism. Our new agenda" should be to "plant the seeds of new values, of global consciouness." But it is unlikely that a new world order that would be guided by values of love, race and class equality, ecological conservation and full employment will occur without church guidance, he said.