As the Republican National Committee descends upon Memphis, Tennessee, the home of the International Headquarters of the Church Of God In Christ, Inc. We welcome the RNC to Memphis and look forward to dialogue and building relationships.
Some if not many would wonder why the Church Of God In Christ would want to engage and have dialogue with the Republican National Committee (RNC)? Over 100 years ago our denomination was founded when black people were predominately Republican and today we are the largest Black Pentecostal faith organization with over 5 million members. The Church's leadership is concerned about the Black Community, in fact, concerned about the entire nation.
We do not deny or shy away from the fact that our members are largely conservative, however in the 21st century we have not had much of a relationship with the Republican Party. Said plainly, the issues are racial in nature but education on both sides would be appreciated, and possibly bring clarity.
A little over a year ago, RNC Chairman Reince Preibus released the Growth and Opportunity Project, which set out an aggressive agenda to engage the black community. Immediately after its release the RNC reached out to Church leadership to begin a dialogue of mutual respect and understanding of our Shared Values and Shared Goals. The RNC has made it clear it wants to strengthen its position within our community and wipe away perceived racial divides.
Under the leadership of our Presiding Bishop, Charles E. Blake Sr., the Church Of God In Christ unveiled our Urban Initiative, which focuses on the following:
2. Economic Development
3. Crime Prevention
5. Financial Literacy
It is upon these key pillars that the Church would promote dialogue to advance opportunity, hope and healing to the black community. As leaders in the Church Of God In Christ, both of us understood that this undertaking could not be done with just having a relationship with the Democratic Party alone.
A recent Harvard University white paper stated that Memphis was the most economically segregated community in America. All politics is local and South Memphis, Whitehaven, North Memphis and Hickory Hill are proof of the following statistics. Obviously, the RNC meeting in Memphis would bring the facts to light in a larger way, with black unemployment at 16 percent, black youth unemployment at 47 percent, black female unemployment at 12 percent and only 1.7 percent of SBA loans lent to black business as well as the recent rule change at the Department of Justice that would eliminate black organizations to compete for grants.
Moreover, black veterans unemployment is at 10 percent; therefore, the Church Of God In Christ leadership has recognized that the needs of the black community were not being addressed and that we could no longer be taken for granted by the Democratic Party and ignored by the Republican Party.
Connor and Hall might not agree all the time; however we are proud that the Church Of God In Christ leadership is leading the way to ensure that both parties will compete for the black vote. Speaking generally and specifically in an ecumenical way we hope that other black organizations will do the same because our community needs to work with those who truly work with us!