Pastors address abortion in the African-American community

By Colette M. Jenkins
Beacon Journal religion writer

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Pastor Stephen Broden, Founder and Senior Pastor of Fair Park Bible Fellowship of Dallas, Texas, speaks during the Choose Life Conference at Second Baptist Church, attended by African-American pastors and church leaders to discuss abortion and a response to the issue from an African-American spiritual perspective, on Thursday in Akron. (Paul Tople/Akron Beacon Journal)

Three Northeast Ohio pastors have come together to urge pastors in the African-American church to use their pulpits to address issues affecting the black community.

They’re starting with abortion.

“I am not ashamed to say I am a black pro-life pastor and that the African-American church is guilty of not taking the lead on issues like abortion,” said the Rev. Walter Moss of Foursquare Church in Canton. “As pastors, we need to be able to come together and have a civil conversation about how abortion is affecting us and we need to be equipped with the information to help our people deal with it.”

On Thursday, Moss joined with the Rev. Dennis Butts of the House of the Lord in Akron and the Rev. Roscoe Heath of New Praise Ministries in Cleveland to sponsor a forum on abortion.

The Choose Life Conference, called What If You Were Chosen to Be Aborted?, was hosted by the Rev. Roderick Pounds at Second Baptist Church in Akron. It attracted more than 50 people, mostly pastors and church leaders, and featured talks by Star Parker and the Rev. Stephen Broden.

Broden, senior pastor at Fair Park Bible Fellowship in Dallas, has been a leader in the black anti-abortion movement for decades. He reminded pastors that it is their responsibility to represent the Christian worldview on abortion.

“How is it that we are murdering our kids at an alarming rate and why does it seem that no one is saying anything about it? Pastors, there is a judgment that awaits us for our silence,” Broden said.

“Pastors play a strategic role in turning this around. We are witnessing a war on black babies, a war on black women and a war on black families and we must stop it.”

During the conference, Heath shared statistics from the Ohio Department of Health that detailed abortion rates. The report showed that black women represented about 37 percent of the 28,123 abortions performed in Ohio last year. Of the 10,528 abortions performed on black women, 4,032 were done in Cuyahoga County; 526 in Summit County; and 169 in Stark County.

“The black pastor is still the most influential person in the black community and still has a voice among his constituents,” Heath said. “The church is supposed to be an agency of life and the issue of abortion flies in the face of everything that God stands for. Abortion takes away life, so it’s not of God.”

Heath said the initial conversation this week with church leaders was the beginning in working to enlighten pastors. He said that he hopes black pastors were persuaded to view abortion as a moral issue rather than a political issue, noting that African-Americans make up about 12 percent of the nation’s population and 40 percent of the abortions performed.

Star Parker, of Washington, D.C., shared that she is one of the women represented in those statistics. The founder and president of CURE (Center for Urban Renewal & Education), Parker has had four abortions.

Parker, who now shares her anti-abortion message throughout the nation, said she didn’t think there was anything wrong with her promiscuous lifestyle until someone confronted her with the question of what God would think.

“It wasn’t until then that I began to realize there is something wrong with killing our own offspring. Abortion is deeply embedded in our community and we have to be outraged,” Parker said. “The work of the body of Christ is not being done, particularly in the black community. … This may be legal but it is not lawful in God’s eyes.”

Butts, Heath and Moss said they are committed to helping leaders in the African-American Christian community formulate a strategy for helping address abortion and other issues, including economics, crime, AIDS/HIV, deficiencies in education and drugs. They said the movement begins with educating pastors on how to deal with members in their church communities.

“We need to know what’s going on with our people and we need to be able to help them with whatever they’re going through,” Moss said. “In dealing with the issue of abortion, we need to be ready with information to help women better understand all of their options, including adoption. We need to embrace those who have already had abortions and let them know that we love them and that God loves them.

“Abortion, like so many issues facing our community, has become political. It’s time we stood up, as pastors, with the support, resources and help that our people need to make a well-informed, moral decision.”

The pastors are planning another forum about abortion in the Cleveland area. For information, contact. Butts at 330-864-9073, ext. 227

Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or cjenkins@thebeaconjournal.com.


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