We all have heard of separation of church and state, but should there be a separation of church and business?
On August 2, 2012, I had the opportunity to attend the Hempstead Rebirth Open House. Hempstead Rebirth CDC is a nonprofit, faith-based organization founded by Pastor Curtis Riley. The goal of this organization is to improve the quality of life of low to moderate income individuals and families through community economic building strategies. In addition to improving the community through housing programs and economic building strategies, the organization has an empowerment resource center. This resource center aids entrepreneurs and business owners in finding resources to improve their businesses. One resource the center provides, is a 12 week training for businesses and individuals through the e-Xtraordinary Business Building System. The center also allows for students and those who have been previously incarcerated to receive community service credits.
The event was truly a reflection of the Hempstead Rebirth’s mission of community building.
Phil Andrews, 100 Black Men of Long Island, was the host for the day and guided the conversations. Pastor Patrick G. Duggan, Abundant Communities Together, Inc, opened up the event with prayer and reflection. He set the mood for the day by stating it takes vision, ability, and desire to see transformation. He supported this statement by quoting Albert Einstein “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
As the event continued many Long Island organizations and community members either spoke at the event or attended. Long Island’s own Cablevision was in attendance to record the event and hand out door prizes. TD Bank representatives Sharon Hamlin, Hempstead Branch and Robert Bullock, East Meadow Branch, stressed the importance of working in the community and providing financial resources to bring small business owners to the next level. Pastor Curtis Riley, Hempstead Rebirth, highlighted the importance of if you “stay with something long enough, something happens.” He went on to discuss the importance of moving out of isolation and into collaboration. This movement of building community can be accomplished by combining: church, family, education, government, media, arts/entertainment, and business/philanthropy.
Gail Lewis, The Communication Depot, discussed crafting an elevator pitch that highlights an owner’s business. The keynote speaker James Nemley, Building Better Business, started off his presentation with a bang, by using story analogies and crowd interaction to show that excuses do not run businesses, excuses fail businesses. Nemley, broke down different methods used by Fortune 500 companies and let the audience know that running a business the right way is essential to success. He made a strong argument for having systems in place. A business that has a Doing Business As certificate, is not a business without having a marketing, sales, customer service, human resources,leadership, profit margin, and financial management systems in place. I loved when he said knowledge is power, the way you use it is wisdom.
Unfortunately, I had a meeting to attend, so I did not get the chance to network with all the great people in attendance, but I did learn a lot about business and reflected on how I could improve my own business models.
Attending this event allowed me to see how a faith-based organization can operate as a business liaison to the community. Faith-based organizations have the backing of the community and the leadership from pastors and reverends. To run a church, is like running a business. The brick and mortar (the church) has to be kept up and managed. The finances (tithes) have to be kept in order and budgets need to be made. A CEO/Owner (priest, pastor,etc) has to run the organization’s visions. A customer (church patrons) is needed to keep the business afloat. A pastor has community ties, community backing, and the leadership skills to build a strong business development center. This is what I saw in the Hempstead Rebirth open house event.
What do you think? Should there be a separation of church and business?
An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.