Guest Author, 6/17/20, positiveexperience.org
Today’s post is based on an interview with Rev. Darrell Armstrong, pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church of Trenton, NJ for the past 20 years. He is considered a national leader on issues pertaining to child welfare and family strengthening. Most questions contain links to video excerpts of the original interview. To watch, click the link on the corresponding question.
Introduce yourself to our blog readers?
My name is Darrell Armstrong. I’m in my 20th year pastoring the Shiloh Baptist Church of Trenton, NJ, a multicultural, multi-generational, and multiracial community of Christian faith in the capital city [of New Jersey]. Our church is the oldest Black Baptist Church in Trenton, 140 years old, so we’ve got a rich history and foundation upon which to build and make families stronger.
Originally from Los Angeles, California, I moved to the Bay area in 1987 to do my undergraduate work at Stanford University and came east to New Jersey in 1995 to do my graduate work at Princeton Theological Seminary. I got an opportunity to serve under a very renowned pastor, the late Reverend Dr. S. Howard Woodson Jr., who was the first African American to ever be elected speaker of a state legislature since reconstruction. He spent 53 years as pastor here at our church. His predecessor spent 42. I’m the third pastor in 116 years.
In my official capacities as the first Director of the Division of [Child Abuse] Prevention and Community Partnerships, I got a chance to implement the Strengthening Families Initiative here in New Jersey. Since leaving State government service, I’ve sought to integrate the protective factors into my Pastoral work, like bible studies, into sermons, etc. We’ve also created what’s called a Strengthening Families Covenant, a 12-point covenant that I ask leaders of houses of worship to sign. One of the things it encourages is that you don’t have to recreate the wheel. Every April is child abuse prevention month, May is foster care awareness month, October is domestic violence awareness month, November is adoption awareness month. Pastor, Imam, Rabbi, Father, Priest, during those four months, invite someone in. The best way to prevent child abuse is to equip families with the resources they need before they get into crisis. Part of my work has been bridging chasms of language, semantics, and practice.