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Predominantly Black Church Says Priority in 1990s Is to Fight Drugs

July 5, 1989

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The youth department of a predominantly black pentecostal group said Wednesday its primary effort into the next century is to fight drugs, and it urged other churches to help.

″The church must speak out loud and clear and more effectively,″ Bishop Charles Brewer told members of the Church of God in Christ, which claims 3 million members in the United States and 1.5 million in 44 other countries.

The drug program was disclosed at the 14th annual convention of the church’s United National Auxiliaries. More than 12,000 people are participating in various meetings and activities through Saturday.

″We hope to make an impact across the country″ with drug programs, said Brewer, of New Haven, Conn., chairman of the youth department.

Bishop Floyd Perry of Cleveland, chairman of the convention, said ″the church is the answer in the battle against drugs and crime, and it all starts in the schools.″

″When those who are addicted leave treatment centers they often go back to drugs, and we have to change that, we have to stop that,″ Perry said. ″Treatment is the BandAid, it only patches up the problem, but the churches must do the healing. We have to reach out to our youth to help change man’s lives.

″We also need to change the image of the black community as being drug- oriented. Our 6,000 churches are going to send a message out about drugs that the real permanent answer is spiritual faith, and we intend to cross denominational lines with that message. The church has to change the content of the heart.″

A federal drug official told more than 250 youth delegates that ″the church has to open its doors to work with the addicted and the afflicted.″

″Drug addiction is not only a social problem, it is a spiritual problem,″ said N. John Wilde, Drug Enforcement Administration agent in charge of enforcement in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

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