While Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to the greater need for social justice in this country for all and where one is, “not judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character,” one African-American church in Bedford-Stuyvesant utilizes the holiday in both word and deed to practice self-empowerment in the community.
The Concord Baptist Church of Christ, an African American congregation at 833 Gardner C. Taylor Boulevard (formerly Marcy Avenue), honors the King Holiday by Investing in Community Based Justice Organizations. Yesterday, the congregation presented grants from its ChristFund totaling $40,000 to four community based organizations working on important justice initiatives.
The 2016 Grantees were The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, The Black Women’s Blueprint, Exalt and Redemption, Inc with each organization receiving a $10,000 grant.
“Each year, the ChristFund endeavors to draw attention to issues that impact the well-being of our community. Each of these organizations represents a critical justice concern for our city,” said ChristFund Board of Governors’ Chair Lisa Bing.
Concord Church Senior Pastor Dr. Gary V. Simpson said that justice has always been the sacred concern of Concord Church. “There is no better way to honor our congregation’s stubborn hope for a just society than by investing in the work of local groups tackling our time’s most critical issues on the ground every day of the year. This, too, is how we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” he said.
The Concord Baptist Church of Christ was founded in 1847 and its members have been active in pivotal social justice movements in the United States spanning the Abolitionist Movement, voting rights, the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The Concord ChristFund was established by the largely working class congregation in 1988 to support the uplift of Bedford Stuyvesant and Central Brooklyn. It was funded at one million dollars and that money was raised through good stewardship and sacrificial giving by the people of the congregation.
Grants from the ChristFund’s interest are awarded to worthy groups each year. Since its founding, the Concord ChristFund has made grants totaling well over one million dollars to organizations and projects in active pursuit of justice and empowerment.
Concord’s outreach in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community includes such initiatives as the Concord Federal Credit Union (with assets over $8 million, and well over a thousand members strong) and the Concord Freedom School, which conducts a free full day summer social justice and literacy program for community youth.
The Black Women’s Blueprint will utilize their grant to expand the reach of the Emerging Sons Initiative to provide culturally and linguistically specific education and messaging to Black men and boys to prevent sexual assault, domestic violence and dating violence and/or stalking within African American communities.
Exalt will utilize their grant as support for the organization’s internship program which serves 150 New York City court-involved youth, ages 15 – 19 annually.
Redemption, Inc. will utilize their grant to support for the Redemption’s Youth Community Council.
The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund will utilize their grant to grow their recently founded organization and increase their capacity to pay bail for low-income Brooklynites accused of misdemeanors. As cases are resolved, funds used to pay bail revolve back to Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, becoming available to help additional Brooklyn individuals and families in need.