The congregation inside the Roxbury church on Sunday prayed for the boys and young men in their community, vowing to continue to mentor them and help them find paths to success.
Then they listened to Roderick L. Ireland, the chief justice of the state’s highest court and a longtime member of the church, recall the story of a certain African-American boy from the South Side of Chicago who worked his way to became governor of Massachusetts.
Ireland and Governor Deval Patrick, the first African-Americans to hold their respective positions, headlined a “Men’s Leadership Day” service at Eliot Congregational Church focused on helping African-American boys set out on the right path as they become men.
Three judges from the community, including Ireland, led a responsive blessing as about a dozen boys and teenagers, from age 8 to 17, in the church’s mentorship program stood before the congregation.
“Lord, give us wisdom to stop the spread of crime, violence, and hate amongst our men,” one of the judges said.
“God help our young men to be instruments of transformation,” the congregation responded.
In his remarks, Patrick noted that in policymaking circles, boys such as those who stood before the church are described as being at risk.
“It’s at risk of the ravages of poverty, of violence, of despair, of broken neighborhoods and broken families,” Patrick said. “I’ve been there. I understand that risk.”
But, he added, if the larger community, beyond the boundaries of any certain neighborhood, does not internalize the idea that we are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, then we are all at risk.
“Being in a community is understanding the stake you have in your neighbor’s dreams and struggles as well as your own,” he said to murmurs of “Amen!” from people in the pews.
Patrick, the second black person to be elected governor in the United States, referenced My Brother’s Keeper, a recent national initiative from President Obama aimed at helping boys and young men of color get ahead. And the service on Sunday highlighted one of a number of local church efforts at steering young men away from violence.
SOURCE: Joshua Miller
The Boston Globe