Rev. Dr. Cecil ‘Chip' MurrayRev. Najuma Smith-PollardRev. Mark Whitlock
By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
The Cecil L. Murray Center for Community Engagement opens in January 2012 and its namesake is already laying the groundwork for success.
The Rev. Dr. Cecil ‘Chip' Murray, one of the busiest ‘retired' pastors in Los Angeles, conveyed his energy and excitement about the new endeavor aimed at assisting faith-based and non-profit organizations to uplift their communities.
"USC was kind enough to name it after me and the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement will be reaching out to underserved black, brown and Asian communities. We have three goals: financial development, community development and project development," said Dr. Murray.
"We want to help people who have commitment to outreach to the community and they just need empowerment. We will teach you the finances, the politics, how to raise the money, and how to apply for it.
"Also, we shall have as resources professors from the 18 colleges on campus at USC. We will draw from the business school, law school, and policy and planning school. They will sit and lecture and help equip the students. We will also have special classes to introduce them to financial planning and budget development and after the completion of each cycle, the students will be assigned a community project," he explained.
The sessions will last one year and students will receive a certificate upon completion. After graduation, students enter the mentoring component of the program consisting of a committee assigned to participants to monitor progress and enhance their chances of success.
"We plan to make this a ‘wrap-around' program to make each person and organization complete," said Dr. Murray.
Joining the staff are Rev. Mark Whitlock, pastor of Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church, who will serve as executive director, and Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard, pastor of St. James A.M.E. Church, who will be the executive administrator and office manager.
"Our primary goal is to use the experience gained through the A.M.E. Church and pour that information into the community. This is an ecumenical effort and we will work with Baptist, Methodist, Church of God in Christ, Pentecostal, Catholic, Assemblies of God, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists to create jobs and improve the economic fiber of our community," said Rev. Whitlock.
The program kicks-off on January 26 and 27, 2012, with a community development conference. Also, interested persons and organizations will be able to sign up for the sessions.
For information, call (213) 743-2046 or email