BROOKSVILLE — Men will be encouraged to become better leaders, better role models and godly husbands and fathers at one Brooksville church event this month.
At another, men will be urged to come together to serve God in the church.
"Men of God Doing God's Will, God's Way" is the theme for a "Men in Black" program at 4 p.m. Sunday at Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church, 824 Leonard St.
"This will be a service where we try to encourage men to come to church and praise God," said church secretary Vanessa Maner. "It's a service with preaching and singing."
Maner said Cpl. Vincent Parnell of the Florida Highway Patrol, who is also the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, will be the guest speaker.
"The service is for everybody in the community and includes both men and women," said George Hoskins, chairman of the church. "We're trying to get men together. That's the whole story."
Hoskins said Brooksville Mayor Frankie Burnett will be the master of ceremonies for the worship service.
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On Nov. 28, the Rev. Clarence Clark, director of Shiloh Problem Solvers and pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, will be the speaker at a 6:30 p.m. dinner sponsored by the Methodist Men at First United Methodist Church, 109 S Broad St.
The dinner is open to the public, both men and women, and costs $5 per person.
Clark will discuss the need for men to be active in local schools as mentors.
"Men need special encouragement, because sometimes we think our role as a man has to be biological, and it doesn't," Clark said. "Men need to understand that they can reach children that are not their biological children. God said we are to train up a child in the way he should go. God did not say specifically your (own) child."
Born and reared in Brooksville, and a community leader with a record of working with homeless and troubled children, Clark, 44, says he has a special insight into the community that makes his ministry effective.
"I'm able to go to young people and young men and talk to them, because I know their parents," Clark said. "I knew their absent dads. I know their grandparents that are taking care of them."
A graduate of Hernando High School, Clark returned to Brooksville after serving six years in the Army Field Artillery. He worked in the rock mines, married and had three children. During that time, he felt called to the ministry.
Wanting to help in the community, Clark volunteered as an assistant football coach at Parrott Middle School and Hernando High, where he had played.
"The Lord spoke to me and told me these children need life coaching more than football coaching," he said.
Through Shiloh Problem Solvers, Clark has been involved in providing assistance to homeless and needy children. In partnership with the Hernando Youth Initiative, the group has mentored in three elementary schools. It has also worked with a Grace World Outreach Church ministry to provide backpacks with food for homeless and other needy children.
According to a news release, the group also works with the Watch Bunch program at Parrott Middle, where volunteers monitor classes of students who have been identified as potential dropouts, encouraging them and serving as liaisons between them and teachers.
Clark has initiated several programs to help men and women become better parents and role models. One of them, Operation SHIFT (Sowing Hope into Family Training), has been taught in a conference setting in surrounding counties, as well as locally.
At the Nov. 28 dinner, Clark will encourage men to do something to help children, lest the men become part of the problem, he said.
"We cannot wait until problems manifest in our own home before we do anything," he said.
Clark will also talk about a program in which he hopes the men listening will want to become involved.
"It's our date violence program," Clark said.
He said the program is used at Hernando High and helps young men know how to treat young women.
Clark said dating violence is on the rise.
"God developed men with a warrior mentality," he said. "Nobody is training those young men that their warrior mentality is not to be used to abuse. If we don't train them, they won't know how to channel that warrior mentality and the energy that they have."
Clark grew up in a neighborhood where young men didn't receive that kind of training.
"In my neighborhood, young men grew up in homes where their biological father was not there," he said. "There were other guys coming through the house as 'daddy' for a little while, but not taking the responsibility of being that role model for that young man."
Clark said he was inspired to want to help children by a documentary called Elephant Killers, which he watched on television years ago.
"They had a reserve with elephants in it that was getting overpopulated, so they took the adult male elephants out," Clark recalled. "When they did, the young bull elephants began to be destructive, killing all the animals. It was because the adult male didn't have the opportunity to train that young male how to utilize his strength and be productive."
Clark will show how the same behavior exists in some of today's youth.
"When a man doesn't know who he is, he doesn't know who to follow, so he'll follow anything," Clark said. "We blame the children, and it's not their fault. The Bible has charged us as parents, adult men and women, to train them in the way."
The presentation at the church will have a positive message for men and women, Clark said.
"It will be an encouraging message," he said. "We as church leaders have to realize, if we don't give men something positive to do and we don't encourage them, they're not going to do anything."