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It Really Does Take a Village

Black news from Pasadena - Editorial - National institute needs a villageI am seeking support from the community for an organization envisioned by my son, Dr. Jamal Dominique Hopkins. Jamal, our third of three sons, was born this month (October) and was raised in Pasadena, California and attended schools in the Pasadena Unified School District. He has always been a dutiful, obedient son. He has educated himself and distinguished himself in his career. As he embarks on a new journey, we call on friends and associates who believe the African proverb, "It Takes a Village to Raise A Child," for support.

Jamal has had an interesting career. He graduated from Moler Barber College in Pasadena, received his Barber's license and worked in his own Barber Shop for 4 years. He graduated from Pasadena City College and received an AA degree. He received a BA degree from Howard University, in Washington, DC, a Master's degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, and became a minister, after being influenced by Bishop Benjamin J. Crouch, then pastor of Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima, CA. After graduating from Fuller, he applied for a job. They told him that he needed a doctorate degree. He announced to our family that he was accepted at the University of Manchester in Manchester, England and he was off, taking his lovely wife, Makini, and our baby grandson, Joshua, with him. He earned his doctorate degree and became the, only known, African American expert in the U.S. on Dead Sea Scrolls.

Jamal has preached and taught in many venues all over the United States. He has traveled worldwide, giving presentations on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is a preaching machine who has left me speechless, and that is not easy to do. Dr. Pamela Powell was there, as his silent mentor. She is and was a smart family friend who we will always be thankful to, more than she knows. There are others like Rev. Tyrone Skinner, Pastor M. Tyrone Cushman and, of course, Bishop Crouch.

His lists of accomplishments include: author of "Thinking Out Loud: Thoughts and Reflections on Life, Faith, Culture and Crisis" (Journal Publication, 2013), and "Duty or Responsibility? The African American Evangelical's Identity" published in the Journal of African American Christian Thought (2009); Visiting Professor of Bible and Theology at Victory University in Memphis, TN; a 2010 Wabash Center Fellow; lectured and presented research at Princeton Theological Seminary, Emory University, the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and at the W.E.B. Du Bois Society at Harvard University. Hopkins is a former Biblical Studies Professor at ITC (Atlanta, GA) and at Crichton College (Memphis, TN).

So here's the deal. After not having his contract renewed by the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA, Jamal announced that he was starting a non-profit think tank which he named, Institute of Advanced African American Christian Thought (IAAACT). I was asked by my son to help him get the IAAACT incorporated. I recruited my friends and colleagues, Attorney Gabrielle Woods and Regina Brown Wilson, the daughter of Assemblywoman and fellow publisher Cheryl Brown and her husband, Hardy Brown, publisher of the Black Voice News in Riverside, CA. They got the Institute approved for the nonprofit.

The mission of IAAACT, Inc. is to cultivate critical African American Christian thought among Black seminarians training for ministry, Black Christian scholars in the academy, and a theologically literate Black Christian public. By working to cultivate critical thinking IAAACT will:

  • Invigorate Black academicians to critically think and reflect about whether and in what respect Christian faith has anything meaningful to say to contemporary African American life and thought;
  • Equip Black seminarians training for ministry, and the institutions that train them, with the tools for better understanding the contours of historic Christian orthodoxy that help prepare leaders for ministry in relation to the present day concerns of Christian congregants;
  • Infuse Black communities and churches with well-trained seminarians able to bring critical Christian thinking to the challenges of their ministry;
  • Imbue the Black Christian public with orthodox Christian doctrine that teaches moral values and supports and builds strong families and communities.

For more information, go to the IAAACT website: http://iaaact.weebly.com/about.html.

Now it is time for the Village to do its part. We need $50,000 operating capital to get moving. A bank account has been opened for donations. We have received a couple of contributions from friends of IAAACT, and promises have been made by a few individuals of various community organizations. Look for a fundraiser, perhaps later this year or early next year.

I have received advice from many in the Village, including Bill Flynn at the Tournament of Roses. The Hopkins Family Trust has committed a percentage, and we are looking to the community to help raise the necessary funds for this venture which is national. Right now, we need your dollars to give promote birth to this national institution, dedicated to the magnification of God.

Please send your tax deductible donation to: IAAACT, c/o The Journal, 1541 N. Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91104. Thank you!