EMOTIONAL OCCASION: Rev Dr Carver Anderson (left) with Professor Stephen Pattison
THE SAYING ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is well known, but now its meaning has been extended after a popular Birmingham pastor ‘shared’ his newly acquired PhD thesis with his community.
Rev Dr Carver Anderson organised a unique event at the New Testament Church of God in Lozells where a copy of his completed academic work on the rehabilitation of young black offenders was given to everyone in church as a way of thanking all those who had been involved, giving a whole new meaning to practical theology.
Presented by Bringing Hope which works with the community to help reduce re-offending rates, the evening’s theme was to understand the ‘spirit,’ the root and heart of the streets for young black men.
It was an emotional occasion for Dr Anderson as he spoke of the journey he made to complete his labour of love, supported by his supervisor and tutor Professor Stephen Pattison from the University of Birmingham’s Department of Theology and Religion.
His research was influenced by his work as a pastor, minister and social worker who has worked with black offenders over many years, supporting them in prison and when they are at their most vulnerable.
His work is based on the disproportionate numbers of black youths represented in school exclusions; confrontations with police and the criminal justice system; those who have experienced racism; over-representation in prisons and involvement in gun and knife crime.
Dr Anderson said his aim is to create stronger bonds between these young men and the black Pentecostal church in order to help them build new lives away from crime.
Professor Robert Beckford, one of the UK’s leading black theologians, sent a public note of congratulation. Prof Beckford said he had urged Dr Anderson to write a dissertation that would not sit on the shelf, but would be handed over to the Church to be used to offer practical help to those who needed it.
After a one-man drama performed by local campaigner Nathan Dennis, a panel discussion was led by BBC Radio WM presenter Nikki Tapper. It included professionals in the prison and probation service who fielded questions from the audience on the importance of the community offering jobs to those leaving prison, offering practical help rather than just talk.
Dr Anderson said: “Family and friends of the village please respond to those who are broken, bruised and marginalised. Let this not be a talking shop.”