SAN ANTONIO - The energetic call and response style of African American preaching garners the attention of those who have witnessed its finest practitioners.
But "the art of Black Preaching" is found in the heart of its message: transformation is possible through Christ.
Pastors call African American churches to cling faithfully to Christ, no matter how difficult circumstances become, Kinney said. Historically, African American preachers have done this well through trials and struggles.
"The black preacher never loses focus that I am to take what's broken and provide a word to bring it back together," John W. Kinney, dean of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, said during the Black Preaching Conference, sponsored by Texas Baptists' Office of African American Ministries and Baptist University of the Americas.
Charlie Singleton, director of Texas Baptists' African American Ministries, said African American pastors connect with their congregations because they understand the context. They often live in the same neighborhoods as their congregants. They see the struggles.
"We're preaching in the context," he said. "We've been through some of what people have been through."
African American pastors are free to address the ills of their community, said Oscar Epps, pastor of Community Missionary Baptist Church in DeSoto and president of the African American Fellowship of Texas. They aren't confined with concerns of being politically correct or offending someone. They follow calls to preach truth.
"The freedom of preaching, the liberation of black preaching, is there are no limitations to stay within the parameters of your congregation," he said.
Kinney said each week, African American pastors are called to bring the entirety of themselves to the pulpit, including what is happening in their respective communities, what's happening in their lives and what God is teaching them.
"God formed you from the dust of the earth," he preached. "That's the physical. Then He did what? He breathed life into you. That's the spiritual."
Kinney re-emphasized his point: "You want to be in the pulpit whole."
The Black Preaching Conference is a unique event that is a collaborative efforts of Texas Baptists' Office of African American Ministries, the African American Pastors Fellowship and the Academy. It is a combination of preaching and instruction from leading African American preachers and academicians. This year's conference preachers were Kinney, Charles Booth of Columbus, Ohio and William Blocker of Houston.
The Blacking Preaching Conference seeks to equip, encourage and engage the African American pastor and preacher in their craft and calling as ministers of the Gospel. To that end, this year's conference theme "The Preacher: Preaching Through Conflicts", intended to highlight the varying challenges and conflicts of preaching and ministering while undergoing personal and parish conflicts. Addressing the relevant question, how does the preacher maintain while going through conflicts in and around them.