Baltimore Pastor to speak at MLK Event

Catherine Damron

Jamal-Harrison Bryant, the founder and pastor of one of the fastest-growing churches in Baltimore, is coming to Bowling Green to speak as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events.

Bryant will be speaking at Van Meter Auditorium for the main ceremony at 11 a.m. Jan. 20.

Bryant is the pastor and founder of the Empowerment Temple located on the campus of Coppin State College. The church is the fastest growing African Methodist Episcopal church in the history of its denomination — growing from under 50 members to over 5,000 in two years.

Linda McCray, chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day planning committee, said Bryant will be an influential speaker for the students.

“We chose him because we thought he would fit in with relevant issues in the community right now,” she said.

C.J. Woods, director of the Office of Diversity Programs at Western, said Bryant, who speaks at five universities a month, is known for his good public speaking.

“Bryant has a working knowledge of the civil rights era and of Dr. King,” Woods said.

“We think he will appeal to a younger crowd and bring out more in the students.”

Bryant said the entire community should be equipped in every aspect of life. He is hoping to motivate his audience Monday to take care of themselves in the wake of a world full of violence and racism.

“We are equipped, we are not co-dependent. You cannot wait for someone else to empower you,” he said. “You have to be ready and willing to do it for yourself.”

Bryant said he started the church after his time as national youth leader of the NAACP because he noticed there was a lack of youth in the church. Now the Empowerment Temple is made of members between the ages of 16 and 35, he said.

Bryant said he didn?t know why his church grew so fast, but he felt people were attracted to the church because of his youth.

“I have dealt with my life struggles, and I’ve embraced who I am as a person,” he said. “I think many of the members can identify with me on some level.”

Wilistine Dargan, a member of the Empowerment Temple, said Bryant has a heart for the people in his church and is willing to empower his church members.

Bryant is known nationally and has made television appearances on BET, CNN, CSPAN and ABC’s “Politically Incorrect.” He also has a televised worship service called “Got Power?”

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