By Cheryl Brown
Special to the NNPA from blackvoicenews.com
Rev. Dr. Floyd H. Flake, well known for his passion, his tenacity, and his ability to turn around a community and take it from the bottom to now one of the 100 Best places for African Americans to live in America, brought his message to the Inland Empire and gave a workshop for local pastors at the Crescent Jewel Restaurant in downtown Riverside. The event was sponsored by Black Voice Foundation and Diffenbaugh Construction.
Flake, a pastor of one of the largest churches in America, says he took the management skills learned at Xerox Company and in corporate America and turned it into a business model to run a church.
“The church is a business and you will be successful if you run it as one,” he told the group of more than 40 local ministers.
Flake, introduced by AME Presiding Elder Norman Copeland, is an extraordinary leader with his wife Co- Pastor, Elaine Flake, of The Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica, Queens, New York. He is a former Congressman. But even before his 11 years in Congress he began to transform Jamaica Queens. “That transformation must be bold. Sometimes leadership requires taking an unpopular stand,” he said.
One problem he noted concerned the issue of building a Christian School. The schools were terrible and a survey he conducted said it was the number one issue in the borough. When he tried to build the school he was told by his members that it was not the churches’ business it was government who needed to build schools. He took bold leadership and built a school that is now rated the best elementary school in its district.
But, there was another problem – the street across from the school was infested with drugs and dealers. The only way to control it was to buy the property. His women’s ministry accepted the challenge and raised $50,000 for the down payment with another $300,000 within six months. That property now appraises for more than $1 million.
“The real power in ministry is best manifested by pastoring the community and ministering to its needs. We should be saying Lord, bless me right here,” he said. He had the vision that allowed the church to grow from initially approximately 1,000 to now more than 20,000 members. People needed homes to live in, jobs, and community building was in full swing. He got senior and low-income houses, they needed retail to support their needs so the church provides the center for commerce.
He told the pastors they should know their elected officials. He reluctantly ran for office but while there worked to help his district. As a congressman he was able to locate two federal office buildings that employ 5,000 people. His book – “The African American Church Management Book” was quickly gobbled up by the pastors. The question and answer portion of the workshop was amazing, one pastor said “I have to go back a reformat my church, I learned so much today.”
Those words were echoed by others who felt the workshop was rich and worth the time they spent. It was so successful that a follow up is planned for the first quarter 2011.