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Historic Brooklyn church commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by supporting anti-poverty and intergenerational community initiatives

CHARLOTTE HUNTER | 2/13/2014, 11:18 a.m.
L to R: Senior pastor Gary Simpson, Christ Fund board chair Lisa Bing, 500 Men Making a Difference Executive Director Wayne Devonish, 500 Men volunteers and former New York City Comptroller John Liu

On Sunday, Jan. 19, in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the Concord Baptist Church of Christ presented grants to the Brooklyn Arts Council, the Brooklyn Family Defense Practice and 500 Men Making a Difference. This historic Brooklyn congregation annually disburses monetary grants in support of organizations that actively promote community development, engagement and empowerment.

Brooklyn Family Defense Practice is an interdisciplinary law office dedicated to achieving equality for all Brooklyn families and changing government practices that punish families for being poor. A diverse team of attorneys, social workers and parent advocates provide families with tools to stay together and improve the quality of their lives.

The Brooklyn Arts Council supports and connects Brooklyn’s arts community. The grant from the Concord Christ Fund will connect Brooklyn seniors with approximately 50 sixth-graders at Middle School for Arts and Philosophy in East Flatbush in an intergenerational storytelling and writing workshop in partnership with Elders Share the Arts.

500 Men Making a Difference is dedicated to increasing the level of civic engagement of young minority men in their community. Through its programs and volunteers, the organization empowers men by providing training in the fields of new media, emerging technology and cultural preservation.

In observance of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, senior pastor Gary V. Simpson delivered a statement called “Winning the Battle Against Ignorance.” He said, “The reverse of racism is equality.” Simpson went on to explain that the women of the Civil Rights Movement—among them Fannie Lou Hamer, Mahalia Jackson and Shirley Chisholm—shared a common goal with the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah: “Let the boys live.”

“The only way to win the battle of ignorance is through the uplift of our youth, in particular our young men, and the achievement of true equality. For 26 years, the Christ Fund has endeavored to support these goals,” concluded Simpson.

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L to R: Executive pastor Emma Jordan-Simpson; Brooklyn Arts Council Arts in Education Director Kathleen Christie; Christ Fund board chair Lisa Bing; Brooklyn Arts Council President Ella Weiss; senior pastor Gary Simpson; (second row) Christ Fund board members Wanda Mealing, Wayne Vaughan and Charlotte Hunter

“We are honored to be able to tangibly affect organizations doing radical work in our community,” said Lisa A. Bing, chair of the Concord Christ Fund’s board of governors. “By providing financial resources to groups who exist to positively shape the future of our community, the Christ Fund continues a legacy of inspired giving by our congregation.

“Through grant distribution, the Christ Fund strives to draw attention to issues that impact the growth and success of our communities—this year, bringing light to the plight of families being penalized simply because they are poor, mentoring and supporting intergenerational programming and volunteerism resonated as initiatives in need of support. We honor the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement with our outreach.” Bing is a third generation Concord member and president of Bing Consulting Group Inc.

The Concord Baptist Church of Christ was founded in 1847, and its members have been active in pivotal social movements in the United States spanning the abolitionist movement, voting rights and the Civil Rights Movement. Concord’s outreach in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community is vast and includes the Concord Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center, the Concord Freedom School and the Concord Credit Union.

The Concord Christ Fund was established in 1988 by the largely African-American working class congregation to support the uplift of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Central Brooklyn. Since its founding, the Concord Christ Fund has made grants totaling over $1 million to organizations and projects in active pursuit of community development and empowerment.