African American Churches Celebrate Presidential Inauguration

The leaders of African American churches will commemorate one of the most extraordinary events in American history – the inauguration of the country’s first President of African descent – with a gala celebration. The African American Church Inaugural Ball will be held on Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 6 pm at the Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington, DC. The event is shaping up to be a star-studded affair with representation from the religious, business, arts and entertainment communities. The collective membership of African American Churches, and others, is invited to gather to honor the 44th President-Elect, Barack Obama, and the great history and strength of the African American church and its community.

The Ball’s theme, “We Have Come This Far By Faith,” will be upheld as 25 extraordinary leaders are honored with the “Keepers of the Flame” Award. The recipients are individuals who have an unshakable commitment to our future and an undeniable place in the African American book of history. Confirmed honorees include: Bishop John Hurst Adams, Ms. Donna Brazile, Mr. Robert J. Brown, Dr. Marion Wright Edelman, Bishop Barbara Harris, Dr. Dorothy I. Height, Mr. Earl Graves, Sr., The Honorable Alexis Herman, Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Gardner Taylor, Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, Sr.

“We must honor this time in our great history, struggles and strength as well as make a commitment to the future of our community,” said Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, II, Inaugural Ball Chair and pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon, NY.

The Executive Producer is Pernessa Seele, who also serves as the Founder/CEO of the gala’s fundraising beneficiary, The Balm in Gilead. The Balm in Gilead is an organization that provides health education and service delivery systems within African and African American faith communities to address HIV/AIDS and other health concerns which disproportionately affect Black people.

A new day has dawned, as the leadership of African American churches mark this historical moment in America’s history, while making a commitment to address one of the biggest threats to African Americans in the United States-HIV/AIDS. The rate of HIV/AIDS, in some African American communities, is becoming greater than those in some undeveloped African countries. According to Seele, “With lessons learned from working in both African and African American communities, we look forward to working with President-Elect Barack Obama, and contributing to the development of a national agenda to fight AIDS in the United States – while continuing to do great work around the world.” Seele, whose voice spans continents, was included in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Persons in the World and Essence Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women Shaping Our World, along with Oprah Winfrey.

Other leaders of the event include: Inaugural Co-chairs Bishop George E. Battle, Jr., Presiding Prelate, Northeastern District African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Senior Pastor, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Cleveland, OH.

Honorary Inaugural Ball Chairs include: Bishop John Bryant, Sr. – African Methodist Episcopal Church; Bishop William H. Graves, Sr. – Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. Dr. Arlee Griffin, Jr. American Baptist Church, USA; Rev. Dr. William J. Shaw – National Baptist Convention, USA; Bishop Horace E. Smith, MD – Pentecostal Assemblies of the World; Rev. Dr. Paul Smith – The Presbyterian Church, USA; Rev. Dr. Stephen J. Thurston – National Baptist Convention of America; Bishop George W. C. Walker, Sr. – African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; and Bishop Orris Walker – The Episcopal Church.

SOURCE African American Church Inaugural Ball