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Millender programs to examine influence of church in African-American community

November 2, 1999

Two upcoming programs, a Nov. 12 luncheon lecture at Wayne State University and a Nov. 13 community forum at the Dexter/Elmhurst Family and Community Services Center in Detroit, will focus on the influence of the church in the black community. Coordinated by the university, the programs constitute the 17th annual Robert L. Millender Sr. Memorial Program, named for the prominent Detroit attorney and political activist who died in 1978.

Theologian, minister, educator and author James H. Cone will deliver the Millender Memorial Luncheon Lecture at noon Friday, Nov. 12, in the ballroom of WSU's Student Center Building. The topic will be "The Power of the Black Church: Myth or Reality."

Cone, the Charles A. Briggs distinguished professor of systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary, will discuss the role of the church in African-American life. His 1969 book, Black Power and Black Theology, attracted the attention of theologians around the world and thrust him into the national spotlight.

A year later, he wrote A Black Theology of Liberation, which links the study of Jesus Christ's life with the African-American experience. The book is described in one encyclopedia as "the first attempt to develop a black theology by investigating major church doctrines through the eyes of the African-American poor."

God and the Oppressed, My Soul Looks Back and For My People are among other works by Cone, who grew up in a poor family in the rural south. He is a contributing editor to the publications Christianity and Crises, Review of Religious Research and The Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center.

The annual lectureship at WSU brings prominent persons from the fields of politics, civil rights and urban development to campus to address matters of urgent public concern. The program is made possible by the Millender Memorial Fund, which also sponsors a WSU fellowship program that assists minorities in gaining experience in public service-oriented careers.

The Saturday, Nov. 13, community forum, titled "The Black Church and Politics: Impact Influence and Power," will begin at 2 p.m. at the community center. It will include a panel discussion with the following participants: Imam Abdullah El-Amin of the Muslim Center, the Rev. Tony Curtis Henderson of St. John Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Nicholas Hood III of Plymouth United Church of Christ, the Rev. Jessica Ingram of Oak Grove African Methodist Episcopal Church, Cardinal Menelik Kimathi of the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Atlanta and the Rev. Ruth M. Mosley of Westside Unity Church. An audience participation session will follow the panel discussion.

The center is located at 11825 Dexter Blvd., (313) 834-4560.

The programs on both days are open to the public. Admission for the Nov. 12 luncheon program at WSU is $20, and for the forum at the community center, $5. For reservations or more information call the office of the WSU associate provost for academic programs, (313) 577-2023.