Black churches, traditionally a focus of political strength in the black community, must become more sophisticated in understanding the political process and how they can influence it, a procession of Harvard University professors told a conference at Shiloh Baptist Church here last weekend.

Professors of law, government and religion outlined some of the strategies they think black leaders, including leaders of the black church, should pursue in order to be effective politically.

"Getting your candidate elected is only the first step," said Walter B. Broadnax, of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Politically astute black leaders must monitor appointments of the newly elected officeholder at every level, he said.

"It's important to us as black Americans to focus on that appointive process, to see that people are appointed to high-level policy-making positions who will put into effect changes that will reflect positively on us as black people," he said.

Equally important is the next step, he said, of providing "support and pressure" from the grass roots for political leaders.

Christopher Edley, assistant professor of law at Harvard, said that "black churches are natural sources of leadership" in mobilizing the black community politically. "You reach not just the people living on the Gold Coast of upper 16th Street," he said, "but people in all walks of life." He suggested that churches could fill in the gaps left by the civil rights organizations, which he described as "now moribund at local levels."

Dr. Preston N. Williams, professor of theology and contemporary change at Harvard Divinity School, said the conference, the first the school has conducted jointly with a local church, "represents an attempt on the part of Harvard Divinity School to relate more closely to the churches . . . We are learning how to consider some of the questions regarding the church's participation in politics."

Dr. Martin L. Kilson Jr., professor of government at Harvard, urged blacks to pursue a "political pragmatism" modeled on the political alliances formed by such 19th century ethnic immigrant groups as Irish Catholics, Eastern European Jews and others.

For black Americans, Kilson suggested that the most logical political allies today may be the group that in the past has been their most visible enemy--white "rednecks" mired in poverty and political impotence.

Under President Reagan's "political paganism," he said, "the poor whites . . . are beginning to share the experiences that blacks have shared for a long time," he said. Black leaders, he continued, "must devise the ways and means of penetrating the redneck white ranks" and turn age-old animosities into an alliance that would benefit both groups.

Kilson, the first black to become a full professor on Harvard's arts and sciences faculty, also stressed the need for better-off blacks to demonstrate greater concern for their "ethnic kinsmen" at the bottom of the social and economic heap, a concern that he said has been lacking in recent decades.

Unless better-off blacks "become more attuned to the needs of the lower strata blacks . . . there will be expanded conflict," he predicted. He noted the responsibility of whites to address the same problem, but since almost all of the nearly 100 people who assembled for the conference at Shiloh's new Family Life Center were black, he concentrated on black responsibilities.

Kilson was especially critical of black leaders' "romanticizing . . . social chaos" by characterizing black criminals as "revolutionaries" and unwed fatherhood as a "manifestation of black prowess."

"Such rubbish," he said, addin

Kilson praised the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who he said "pounded the ears of black youth" with the need for education and a productive life style. "Unfortunately," the Harvard professor added, Jackson "has not displayed much staying power. It is up to others of us to take up the task."

Williams, called for the black church "to be more consistent in what it says" and "to concentrate on creating moral guidelines for the black community to follow."

He proposed a national convocation of black church leaders to "come together and think through what they want to advocate" on contemporary issues such as disarmament, abortion, family policy.

"We need a change in the way the black church operates," Williams said, pointing out that because the black church is a free church, there has in the past been "lots of pluralism and confrontation." Now, he said, "the church needs to develop ways to coordinate its efforts."

In response to a question, Williams offered a mild criticism of the practice, widespread in Washington black churches, of endorsing mayoral candidates from the pulpit. "The pastors ought to get out of the business of sort of playing God," he said. "What the church ought to be doing is to create interest groups, with organizations working on behalf of the candidate."

"If you want to support Marion Barry, you ought to get your people organized to work for him" and then continue to monitor the appointments, policies and continuing performance of the successful candidate, he said. graphics /photo: By James A. Parcell--TWP Dr. Preston Williams of Harvard addresses conference at Shiloh Baptist Church as the Rev. Henry Gregory, pastor, listens. a productive life style. "Unfortunately," the Harvard professor added, Jackson "has not displayed much staying power. It is up to others of us to take up the task."

Williams, called for the black church "to be more consistent in what it says" and "to concentrate on creating moral guidelines for the black community to follow."

He proposed a national convocation of black church leaders to "come together and think through what they want to advocate" on contemporary issues such as disarmament, abortion, family policy.

"We need a change in the way the black church operates," Williams said, pointing out that because the black church is a free church, there has in the past been "lots of pluralism and confrontation." Now, he said, "the church needs to develop ways to coordinate its efforts."

In response to a question, Williams offered a mild criticism of the practice, widespread in Washington black churches, of endorsing mayoral candidates from the pulpit. "The pastors ought to get out of the business of sort of playing God," he said. "What the church ought to be doing is to create interest groups, with organizations working on behalf of the candidate."

"If you want to support Marion Barry, you ought to get your people organized to work for him" and then continue to monitor the appointments, policies and continuing performance of the successful candidate, he said.