Local pastor lectures about black families

By Linda M. Linonis

The pastor discussed ‘what was’ and ‘what ought to be.’

YOUNGSTOWN — Pastor Avan M. Odom of New Fellowship Baptist Church in Warren zeroed in on “what was” good about his topic, “The Black Family,” during his lecture at the 50th Congress of Christian Education conference sponsored by the Eastern District of the Ohio Baptist State Convention.

Today, he speaks on “what is” and Friday will address “what ought to be” in the form of solutions. The conference is at Greater Friendship Baptist Church, 646 Lakewood Ave. Pastor Odom’s talks are at 11 a.m.

The event’s theme, “Construction through Instruction with Love,” was the backdrop for Pastor Odom’s talk, which didn’t mince words. He mentioned the Nigerian proverb of “it takes a village to raise a child” and asked his audience to consider the deep impact of the phrase.

“It means it is a community effort of responsible parents and the extended family,” he said.

Pastor Odom put it bluntly — “villages have vanished. ... Let’s talk about what it’s really like.”

Using statistics he gleaned from many sources, Pastor Odom mentioned the number of dropouts, suspensions, suicides, homicides and out-of-wedlock births plaguing the black community. “The truth doesn’t define us, but it describes the conditions,” he said.

Then he focused on “what was” in terms of the church and asked for input from his audience seated in the sanctuary.

The church was family-oriented, prayer meetings were filled and it was a place of discipline, respect and love. This is “what was” in the black community — neighborliness, trust, sharing, no disrespectful talk, pride, black-owned business and black-owned homes and affordable living.

This is “what was” in school — education was valued, discipline enforced, no fights, and prayer.

“What you have now are fractured families, fractured churches and fractured communities,” Pastor Odom said. “It’s not irreparable. It can be repaired and restored.”

His talk today is addressing the “plight, problems and pressures” of what is happening today in the community.

Pastor Odom questioned why black culture hasn’t kept pace when compared to achievements in American society. Two areas he mentioned were reading and math skills.

Getting to “what ought to be” involves reclaiming “what was.” He said it wouldn’t be easy, but it was necessary. “There’s no Band-Aid fix, but there are solutions,” he said.

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