The National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., held its inaugural conference at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, 224 N. Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard., in Tallahassee, Florida, October 20-22, 2010, Dr. R. B. Holmes, Jr., Host Pastor. A historical perspective of the movement is chronicled herein.
The Local Perspective
The National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc. initially evolved through the intergenerational family ministries of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida, pastored by Reverend Dr. R. B. Holmes, Jr. The 140 year record of Bethel Baptist indicates that, from its earliest days, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church always represented more than a religious institution. For the past twenty-four (24) years, the Reverend Dr. R. B. Holmes, Jr., has given prayerful, purposeful, and powerful pastoral leadership to the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Today, the church exists as a hub of activity, providing an opportunity for all to serve and benefit from its ministries, including children, youth, college students, young adults, singles, married couples, women, men, retirees, senior citizens, etc.
Because of Dr. Holmes’ vision, Bethel has grown to over five thousand members. He preaches a powerful, fresh word with reverence and relevance for ALL generations.
Through the years Dr. Holmes’ focus on family-based ministries led to the establishment of the following family-focused ministries at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church:
· Establishment of Bethel Christian Academy – Grades Pre-Kindergarten through Five (1992);
· Purchase and dedication of a water well in Caliquesse, Guinea Bissau, West Africa (December 1993);
· Opening of Bethel Family Restaurant (February 1995);
· The Steele-Collins Charter Middle School, grades six through eight, was established in 1996;
· Habitat for Humanity: Building of the “Bethel House” (September 1997);
· Groundbreaking ceremony: “Bethel Towers” –a fifty-five unit senior citizens independent living facility
· Grand opening “Bethel Family Life Center” (January 2000);
· Dedication of “Bethel Towers” – a fifty-five unit senior citizens independent living facility (October 2000);
· Implementation of the Bethel Family Counseling & Outreach Services (March 2001);
· Opening of and dedication ceremony for “Bethel Towers” (July 2002);
· Dedication ceremony for “Bethel Annex” (October 2003);
· Grand opening “Bethel Family Counseling Center” (May 2004);
· Established rehabilitation facility in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake
The National Perspective: The National Baptist Convention’s Singles and Married Couples Conferences Established
Dr. R. B. Holmes, Jr., was appointed President of the National Baptist Congress of Christian in November, 1999. The National Baptist Congress of Christian is an auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. Encompassing nearly 7.5 million members, the National Baptist Congress is the major training evangelistic department of the Convention. Through the ten years of Dr. Holmes’ dynamic leadership as the National Baptist Congress President, his vision for “saving the family” was manifested through the establishment of two national family-based ministries for married couples and singles. Subsequently, two major national conferences, replicated from the Singles Ministry and Married Couples Ministry of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, were birthed in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
Five annual national conferences for married couples were held from 2005 through 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida; Tallahassee, Florida, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Orlando, Florida; and Little Rock, Arkansas.
Four annual conferences for singles were held from 2006 through 2009 in Richmond, Virginia; Chicago, Illinois; Jacksonville, Florida; and Sand Key Resort, Florida. Presenters from both the married and singles conferences collaborated to prayerfully publish two books: Marriage Matters: It’s God’s Will (published in 2006) and Singles: Strengthened, Secured and Spirit-Filled (published in 2007).
These national family-based conferences and publications spawned a national conversation, and network, particularly in the faith based-community and churches across America that has elevated the level of discourse on “saving the family.”
First “Save the Family Summit: Restoration and Revitalization of the Black Family” held in St. Louis, Missouri
On Friday, June 22, 2007, during the 102nd Annual Session of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, in St. Louis, Missouri, the first “Save the Family Now” Summit was held at the Ferrera Theatre in the St. Louis Americas Center. The summit provided a forum at which prominent religious, civic and academic leaders discussed critical issues facing African-American families and provided solutions for pastors, educators, community leaders, parents, and youth.
In his introduction to the St. Louis summit, President Holmes stated:
We must develop the character, creativity, consciousness, competence and compassion to save, strengthen and sustain the Black family in particular, and all families in general. Our families need real solutions and real transformation. Now is the time for our Black leadership to restore and rebuild Black families. You don't have to be a social analyst, a psychiatrist, a social worker, a theologian or a palm reader to see that our families are in real trouble. The appalling and widespread acceptance of the pervasive degradation of our mothers, wives, and daughters must be holistically and strategically addressed in every family, in every church, in every community, and in every state.
The various panelists for this historic summit included:
· A panel of six leading African American mayors
· A panel of distinguished presidents of six historically black colleges and universities
· A panel of six pastors and leading clergymen whose established ministries have demonstrated a powerful effective focus on the Black family
At the conclusion of the St. Louis summit, Dr. Holmes gave a challenge to the nation: “Without a doubt, this "Save the Family, Now!" Summit promises to be transforming and legendary. The potential exponential impact of this historical event on the revitalization and restoration of the Black families of America can provide hope, direction, motivation, and inspiration for a nation in crises.”
The “Save the Family” Infrastructure Evolves through the Media: Live Communications, Inc.
In 2009, the award-winning Capital Outlook newspaper in Tallahassee, Florida, was purchased by Live Communications, Inc., of which Dr. R. B. Holmes, Jr. is CEO and president. Dr. Holmes solidified his vision for “saving the family” by establishing a parallel focus for the already existing WTAL 1450 AM Radio station, also a subsidiary of Live Communications, Inc., and the Capital Outlook.
Live Communications, Inc., has sponsored a variety of family-focused events:
· Weekly Radio Talk Show – “It’s All About the Family” - Hosted by Dr. R. B Holmes, Jr., featuring information, inspiration and education for families
· Features on “Family of the Month” in the Capital Outlook highlighting local families and their triumphs in the midst of struggles Some of the families featured have been Dr. Charles and Barbara Wright, Reginald and Patricia Smith, Joe and Carolyn Bullard, FAMU Coach Joe and Beverly Taylor, etc.
· The first annual “Focus on Fathers” Appreciation Program was held on Father’s Day, 2010.
· The First annual “Amazing Mothers” Awards Ceremony was held on Mother’s Day, 2010.
· The first “Singles and Married Couples Family Cruise” was held in April, 2010, sailing to the Bahamas and Coco Cay.
· The First National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., Cruise” will be held in March, 2011, sailing to Cozumel and Cancun.
Inaugural Conference of the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc.
The Inaugural Conference of the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc. was held October 20-22, 2010, at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, in Tallahassee, Florida. The three day session focused on developing a national movement to strengthen and sustain African American families in particular and all families in general.
The goal of the conference leaders was to bring together faith-based leaders, African American
publishers and a cadre of community-based organizations that understand the
importance of the family.
This National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc. will:
· Develop a 2020 Strategic Plan that will clearly outline policies and programs that champion the family while concurrently advocating the demise of activities that
denigrate and/or demean families.
· Develop a positive, proactive agenda for holistic programs, events and activities that will rebuild, reenergize and stimulate the family structure.
· Establish "Save the Family Now" chapters in twenty-five (25) cities by 2012;
The objectives of the movement are to:
· Reduce the rate of divorces in the Black family by 25%;
· Reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in the Black community by 25%
· Reduce the rate of violence: Black on Black murders by 25%;
· Reduce the high incidence of the HIV Aids virus by 25%;
· Reduce the high-school drop out rate by thirty-three per cent;
· Protect senior citizens and build safe homes for the elderly in twenty-five urban centers across America;
· Significantly reduce the digital divide through a comprehensive advocacy campaign for broadband usage and adoption by underserved populations
A cadre of professional, civic, and faith-based organizations have agreed to partner with the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., including Rejoice Musical Gospel Soul Food Radio Network and Habakkuk Music Company. …Let us march on ‘til victory is won!
Linda T. Fortenberry, Ph.D.
Inaugural Conference Coordinator
National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc.