By Pamela Bratcher-McMillan
I recently attended an event for the grand opening of a small coffee house on the South Side of Chicago. The place was abuzz with excitement. It was an innovative spot with big screen TVs, free WiFi and a healthy selection of food and exotic coffees. The new owners were beaming with pride and joy as they should be. Frankly, it is no small feat to open a business. And it was obvious that their efforts and hard work had finally paid off.
One of the things that really stood out to me and others, was that one of them mentioned their church had put a lot of support and encouragement behind them by offering business startup classes and workshops. That is awesome that in times like these there is a church that is showing appreciation to their parishioners by showing them how to be independent and make their own money in a economy that has shown little mercy to the Black community.
Although the buying power of Blacks is trillions of dollars per year in the US, little of that money is funneled back into the community. When we want to have a good time, there is a tendency to spend our dollars downtown, near North and South or in the Suburbs. The sad thing about this is that the community misses out on jobs, opportunities and a beautiful environment by not keeping the dollars in their own communities.
How wonderful it would be if more churches would get involved with empowering their parishioners with free training and workshops with the very dollars the community has provided to them. After all, shouldn’t the church community look out for the well-being of their flock? Those evenings when many of these huge structures do nothing more than take up space while empty, there could be energy and lots of ideas being developed and nurtured to bring more money into the church and community pockets.
So if you belong to or work for one of those huge churches that sit quietly on the Southside, consider asking your church to provide these opportunities for young and old so they can figure out ways to make money on their own and not be at the mercy of those outside of their community to feed them. And if they don’t give back anything other than hand-outs, shame on them! Change over to a church that is willing to help out.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published on 7/12/13.