Dr. Lula Ballton
By Cora Jackson-Fossett
Sentinel Religion Editor
Applying divine principles to neighborhood revitalization is the focus of the Christian Community Development Symposium sponsored by the Church of God in Christ, Inc. The daylong conference, set for Friday, April 29, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be held at the USC Galen Center, 3400 South Figueroa in Los Angeles.
‘Creating and Sustaining the Beloved Community’ is the theme of the event open to individuals, churches, non-profits and other entities interested in restoring the community, said Dr. Lula Ballton, an award winning, nationally recognized community development expert.
“Christian community development is looking broader than jobs and business. It is looking to see that people set their own agenda under the lordship of Jesus Christ and not be the object of other people’s agenda,” said Dr. Ballton, who was recently appointed Director of Community and Economic Development for the worldwide COGIC denomination by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr.
Explaining further, she said, “In Christian community development, you don’t come and do a needs assessment like the government would do. Generally, in our community, the center of that knowledge is in the church. That is where we identify our best and brightest.
“Also, if we do a needs assessment, we won’t see people loving one another or see the children helping the seniors and the seniors loving and directing and guiding them because institutions come between us based on where we get our resources from instead of who we are.”
Utilizing Christian doctrines, the symposium will share information on the tools and strategies needed to transform communities throughout the greater metropolitan area. The agenda will feature a wide range of speakers and topics as well as breakfast and lunch.
Bishop Blake heads the meeting as the Vision Caster. Other noted speakers include Thomas S. Sayles, USC vice president of Governmental Relations and Civic Engagement; Pastor Edwin C. Bass, president of National Urban Initiatives, COGIC; Dr. Preston N. Williams, Harvard Divinity School professor and founder of the Summer Leadership Institute; Rev. Mark Whitlock, executive director of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Civic Engagement; John Sotoodeh, Wells Fargo Bank regional president; Gladys Ross, West Angeles COGIC chief operating officer; Dr. H. Spees, senior vice president of Leadership Foundation of America; Hyepin Im, president of the Korean Christian Community Development Association; and Tunua Thrash, executive director of West Angeles Community Development Corporation
Among the topics are ‘Funding Your Vision: Show Me the Money,’ ‘Sharing the Vision: Build Your Brand through Technology and Social Media,’ and ‘Best Practices: How Practitioners Have Created the Beloved Community.’
“Success is measured, not in the dollars you’ve generated, but in the community transformations and that is a part of being a Christian,” said Dr. Ballton. “We’re supposed to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we transform ourselves, we position ourselves to be able to work inside the community to help bring about transformation.”
For information or to register for the symposium, visit www.westangelescdc.org.