The NAACP’s 80th annual Texas state convention began Thursday with a ministers roundtable luncheon at Shilo Inn in Killeen. A crowd of almost 70 people, mostly ministers from across Texas, discussed important church-related issues.
Moderators included Carol Moore, Texas State NAACP Health chair, and Ann Boney, Texas State NAACP Religious Affairs co-chair.
Moore called the ministers the front runners of the people because, “When the pastor speaks it, they respond,” she said.
In his remarks, Killeen Council Member Gregory Johnson, said it seems society is trying to persuade us to push God out of schools and communities, but religious leaders are needed.
“The triangle of success is having elected officials, community and religious leaders work to move our communities forward,” Johnson said.
The conference opens every year with the roundtable, but this format was unique because each of the eight tables had a card listing a different topic, such as teen suicide, drug addiction and domestic violence, among others. A table had 15 minutes to discuss its topic with a pastor reporting the group’s answers to the audience.
The Rev. Alfonzo A. Leathers, of Westside Baptist Church in Killeen, presented suggestions on child abuse.
“Most of us said it’s about training for parents and children, and in our church, we put on programs on human trafficking,” he said. “Even when a child wants to shut down, keep the communications open.”
Teen suicide was another issue discussed by the Rev. George V. Clark, Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Austin, who said the churches have been redefined by society.
“A lot of churches don’t want to establish standards of ethics and morality anymore,’” said Clark, “and when the giver of life is taken out of the picture, the teens don’t have anything permanent to hold onto.”
The “Nasty Nurse” was how Nina Cobb, outreach educator for Bell County Health District, introduced herself to the crowd, who spoke about the increases in STDs.
“In Bell County, we have some of the highest STD rates in the state and one of every four students has come in contact with an STD,” said Cobb.
The roundtable format continued throughout the afternoon rotating among the tables. Mark Price, pastor at Grace Christian Center enjoyed his first NAACP conference.
“It’s good to hear from other pastors on our topic, which was elder abuse,” Price said.
Gary Bledsoe, NAACP state conference president and national board member concluded the event with a special presentation.
The recipient of the Rev. Nehemiah Davis Civil Rights and Health Care Advocacy Award went to the Rev. George V. Clark, of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Mrs. Dorothy Davis, widow of the Rev. Davis, presented the honor. It took several seconds for Clark to compose himself before speaking.
“This award is heartwarming, humbling and challenging,” said Clark.
Churches and the NAACP have a long history of mutual support and cooperation by exchanging ideas, said Ora Washington, second vice-president of the Fort Worth Branch.
“The dialog today was excellent and I like the feedback from the pastors,” Washington said. “We don’t always view topics from the same angle, so it’s a good opportunity to different perspectives.”