THE BIBLE constantly reminds believers that God has a soft spot for the poor and vulnerable, and those that help the disadvantaged and dispossessed will experience God’s favour and blessing. James also stated that those who followed religion which was true and pure were to "look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
There’s no doubt that over the years Britain’s black churches have provide a welcome respite for the disadvantaged in our community. When churches were first started by the West Indians who came to Britain during the 1950s and 60s, they provided black people with somewhere they could get practical support, encouragement and spiritual inspiration, as they came to terms with life in the UK.
Whilst the first generation of church leaders may not have had access to the finance and education that their modern day counterparts enjoy, they did the best they could to provide care and help for their congregations.
In order to surpass the achievements of that first generation of ministers, churches now need to start putting structures in place to establish full-time ministries, and employ professional staff who can meet the growing and demanding needs of their members. One complaint I hear often is that UK churches do not serve as the centre of the community, as is the case in the US.
American churches not only provide a platform for ministers to preach, they also provide numerous community services such as food banks, soup kitchens, counselling, housing projects and education establishments.
Some of the increased sums of money that now pass through several of Britain’s black majority churches should be used to set up initiatives that combat some of the key issues facing our community. The Church of God of Prophecy (COGOP) is a good example of what churches can achieve when they utilize the financial and human resources at their disposal to serve the community.
Over the years COGOP has established a housing association, based in the West Midlands, which provides homes for the elderly and single parents, three family centres that offer therapy and counselling services, and helped facilitate the establishment of the National Black Boys Can Association. The Association is helping to improve the educational achievement of black boys across the UK, and assist them in getting places at some of Britain’s leading universities.
[from The Voice by Marcia Dixon]