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The A.M.E. Zion Church present at the 51st Annual Legislative Conference hosted by the CBCF

Washington, D.C. - Thousands of leaders from across the globe gathered in the Nation’s capital September 28th - October 2nd for the 51st Annual Legislative Conference hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF). U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Florida and U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada were this year’s honorary co-chairs focusing on the theme “Advancing Our Purpose, Elevating Our Power”.

It was the first in-person ALC since the COVID-19 pandemic led the non-profit to conduct virtual conferences in the past two years. “The return of the in-person Annual Legislative Conference could not have come at a better time,” said CBCF President and CEO Nicole Austin-Hillery. With appearances from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris; panels on advancing healthy equity, Black homeownership, and mental health; and the annual Phoenix Awards Dinner co-hosted by Meagan Good and Omari Hardwick, with a performance by Gladys Knight; attendees were captivated with quality programming from start to finish.

Among the programs at this year’s ALC was the 14th Annual Black Women’s Roundtable Policy Forum: “Leveraging the Power of Black Women’s Leadership in The Fight for Our Rights, Freedoms, Safety, Justice & Democracy.” Hosted by the Black Women’s Roundtable and moderated by April Ryan, the session addressed how Black women drive Black political power and discussed findings from this year’s BWR/ESSENCE Power of the Sister Vote Poll, which measures Black women’s perspectives on policies that affect us.

CBCF calls the Annual Legislative Conference “the leading policy conference on issues impacting African Americans and the global Black community.” For this reason, key leaders from across the A.M.E. Zion Church prioritize this event on their calendars annually. Connectional Zion leaders present include; Bishop and Mrs. Dennis Proctor, Episcopal Leaders for the Northeastern Episcopal District, Ms. Karen Hill, Executive Director for the Harriet Tubman Home Foundation Inc, Mrs. Sandra Crowder, International President of the Women's Home & Overseas Missionary Society, Rev. Sam Brown, Managing Editor for the “Star of Zion”, and Dr. Xellex Rivera, First Vice- President for the Assembly of Christian Educators. Other clergy leaders present were, Dr. Alfred Carson, Presiding Elder of the New York City District, Dr. Keith Harris, Presiding Elder of the Long Island District, Dr. Laticia Godette, Presiding Elder of the Camden District, Dr. Joseph Robbins, Pastor of Fair Promise A.M.E. Zion in Sanford, NC, Washington D.C. Pastors; Dr. Christopher Zacharias, of John Wesley A.M.E. Zion and Dr. Timothy Freeman of Trinity A.M.E. Zion, Dr. Alvin Durant, Presiding Elder of the Washington District, Dr. Rita Colbert, Administrative Elder for the Mid Atlantic Episcopal District, Dr. Adrian Nelson, Pastor of Lomax A.M.E. Zion in Arlington, VA, and Dr. Tina Nelson Director of Christian Education for the Philadelphia & Baltimore Annual Conference.

Bishop Proctor is indeed no stranger to this conference as he also serves on the National Board for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “These are the type of ecumenical gatherings where we should always have a presence. It is here where the “Freedom Church” and entities like it can be at the forefront of shaping policy that positively impacts the communities we serve, thus making our congregations more viable to the communities they serve.”, commented Bishop Proctor.

Most of the A.M.E. Zion members present were there to attend the “National Day of Healing”- formerly known as the “National Prayer Breakfast." This is the faith-based component of the conference that intentionally brings together various faith leaders to express their respective resolve as informed by their individual faith experience. The keynote speaker for this was Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III, Pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, IL. There were performances by the Howard University Gospel Choir, and special guest solo artist Le’Andrea Johnson, season three winner of BET’s Sunday’s Best. “We are committed to supporting this event annually, faith must be the primary pillar on which we stand in our fight for justice and equality. We simply follow the example of one of our stalwart Zionites, Harriet Tubman,” commented Karen Hill to the Star.

Other A.M.E. Zion members while not representing the church in an official capacity were present because of their own personal and professional commitment to the Freedom Church’s foundational principle for freedom. Mr. Louis Romain, Political Director for Congressman Jamal Bowman of New York’s 16th Congressional District, and Rev. Lakesha Womack, Founder of Rethinking Church Strategies. Mr. Romain states, “The A.M.E. Zion Church’s designation as the “Freedom Church” is what attracted me to it at a young age. I am here because the quest for freedom is prophetic so we must remain actively engaged in the work in all circles at all levels, at all times; it is our Christian mandate!” These two individuals are leaders in their own right and labor in many capacities within Zion. Rev. Womack was a featured author for the conference and held a book signing for the work “UnLynched”, a doctrine of economic empowerment for African-Americans.

Next year’s conference will be held in Washington, D.C. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, dates are forthcoming.

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