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Armed with faith and confidence, the Rev. Dr. Jamal H. Bryant aims to increase the number of disciples for Christ among ages 18 to 45. At the same time, he intends to expose his generation to social activism in the Black Church.
His goals may appear ambitious, but Dr. Bryant declares, “I can do all things through Christ which says there are limitless possibilities for all people who are saved. That kind of daring pushes us to another place.”
Dr. Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, MD, preached a similar message last week while headlining the Summer Revival sponsored by Bishop Noel Jones and the City of Refuge Church in Gardena.
Charging the audience to follow their call and pursue their dreams, he said, “So many people have been stuck with the spirit of hesitation, second guessing themselves and their competence. But I say take a chance on God.”
His acquaintance with Bishop Jones began while in college when noted broadcaster Tavis Smiley, a member of City of Refuge, invited him to church and introduced him to the pastor.
“Bishop Jones gave me an opportunity to preach when I was 21. Now, I’m 41, so he’s been with me, helping to mold and shape me, and making critical deposits into my life. I’m just so grateful to call him not just a friend, but also a mentor,” said Pastor Bryant.
Mentorship as well as leadership play significant roles in Pastor Bryant’s goals to spread the Gospel and revive social activism among the Generation X, Y and Millenniums. As part of those efforts, he’s hosting a ‘Code Red’ conference on August 16-18 at his church in Baltimore.
Clergy and laity will receive intensive training in a concept he describes as ‘Activist Evangelism,’ a practical process that empowers the congregation and the community to grow around Christ and a cause. The conference will also include prayer, praise and worship services.
“We want to win people to Christ and register citizens to vote. We will begin with prayer; lifting up our President, our people and our plight,” he explained.
“There’s a rash of apathy among us. In 2008, all over the Black community, people were wearing Obama hats, t-shirts, bumper stickers. But in 2012, you can drive a block and not see any sign of life, vocalization or involvement. We have a lot of work to do and dare not take the election for granted.”
That work includes reaching out to youth and young adults. Pastor Bryant noted, “We have a whole generation that’s unchurched. It’s not that they’re not going to A.M.E. or Baptist, they’re not going to church at all.
“We’re dealing with a generation that doesn’t know the Lord’s Prayer, can’t say the 23rd Psalm, can’t sing one stanza of ’Amazing Grace,’ and can barely get through John 3:16. A lot has to happen, not just in terms of membership, but in terms of discipleship.”
In his quest to gain disciples for God, Pastor Bryant’s reputation has reached national levels, yet the fame hasn’t gone to his head.
“I have four baby girls and they all make sure I stay grounded. My ‘Daddy duty’ keeps me with humility to know that no matter what I’m doing out in the world, when I come home, I’m still their father and that gives me peace and balance,” he said.
To learn more about Pastor Bryant and ‘Code Red,’ visit empowermentmovement.org.