Press Release

100 of NYC’s African-American Faith-Based Community Leaders Arrive in Washington for 2nd Annual Gillibrand Legislative Summit

Jun 15, 2011

Washington, DC – Today, 100 of New York City’s African-American faith-based community leaders arrived in Washington, DC to attend U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s second annual Legislative Summit. The summit, titled “A New Day, A New Revelation, A New Budget Reality: A Game Plan for Faith Based Institutions” was attended by more than 170 leaders from across the state representing faith-based groups, churches and organizations serving African-American communities. 

“During this time of economic difficulty, a growing number of families across New York are looking to faith-based organizations for a lifeline to help them stay afloat,” said Senator Gillibrand. “In order to have an impact on our communities, it is critical that we foster partnerships with faith-based organizations and support many of the vital services they provide.”

New York City leaders that were in attendance included Reverend Henry Belin, Manhattan’s First AME Church: Bethel; Reverend A.R. Bernard, Brooklyn’s Christian Cultural Center, Reverend Dr. Demetrius Carolina, Staten Island’s First Central Baptist Church, Reverend Que English, Bronx Christian Fellowship, and Reverend Gregory Robeson-Smith, Manhattan’s Mother AME Zion Church. A complete list of New York City’s participants is attached.

In addition to Senator Gillibrand and other members of New York’s Congressional delegation, participants will also have an opportunity to meet with Joshua Dubois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, National Urban League President Marc Morial, Reverend Al Sharpton, and representatives from the Departments of Labor, Justice, Education, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, the U. S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, also participated in the conference. Reverand Al Sharpton, who also delivered a key-note address, co-chaired the summit and worked with faith leaders in New York in preparation of the summit.

While every American has been touched in some way by the economic downturn, African-Americans have been disproportionately among those most affected. The current unemployment rate for African Americans is over six percentage points higher than the overall unemployment rate. At the same time, both the private and public sectors are facing intense pressure to limit expenses in an effort to balance their budgets. In the face of this difficult economy and extreme budgetary constraints, Senator Gillibrand’s summit addressed how faith leaders can successfully apply for and utilize federal resources to confront the current challenges facing African-American communities in New York.

Senator Gillibrand delivered an address to the participants in which she recognized the vital role played by churches and faith based groups in providing social services to their communities, as well as the challenges they face in this economic climate. The Senator convenes the summit to educate attendees on what kind of federal grants are available, as well as how to navigate the application process, providing faith leaders an improved opportunity to secure federal resources that would  help them to serve communities in need throughout New York.

Click here for a complete list of New York City participants