This week on KBIA's Thinking Out Loud, Darren Hellwege talked with the Reverend C.W. Dawson about work Dawson is doing to bring together the area's African American clergy for activism, education and fellowship.
Dawson is a Columbia minister, an adjunct professor and founder of the African American Clergy Coalition of Mid-Missouri. The coalition was formed, Dawson explains to address three main challenges:
Our purpose is... first to provide an opportunity for people who have no voice or feel that they have no voice, to have a prophetic witness to be able to speak for them... Every time I go to testify on behalf of someone in the courts, most of the people who are convicted have no idea what is being said about them. Generally, they will have a public defender who is overworked and underpaid... Who speaks for those who have been muted?
A second purpose of the coalition is to better equip African American clergy and clergy in general with education and information. Dawson said:
Lots of clergy-folk in this area who have not had the opportunity to go to school. They haven't been able to go to seminary. They lack a theological background... What we wanted to do was to provide for clergy an opportunity to better equip themselves theologically or biblically.
To that end, Reverend Dawson imagines local higher education institutions catering ongoing classroom offerings to the area clergy's theological needs.
Third, the Dawson's African American Clergy Coalition of Mid-Missouri is providing fellowship to local African American ministers. He sees ministers often not coming together because of denominational differences. This was disheartening to Dawson as he sees "..the issues of joy and struggle that those churches face are the same. There needs to be a way in which we fellowship together to talk about our joys and sorrows and I did not see that happening here, so the African American Clergy Coalition of Mid-Missouri was formed."
Listen for part two of Darren Hellwege's conversation with Reverend C.W. Dawson on KBIA's Thinking Out Loud at 6:30 p. m. next Tuesday, February 10.
February is Black History Month. Here is a schedule of events planned at the University of Missouri.