Watts is a ten-block-square area in south central Los Angeles. But to most whites, it’s any place in the city where most of the Negroes live. Watts skyrocketed to fame during riots there in 1965.
South central Los Angeles is predominantly black—93 per cent—with a scattering of Mexican-Americans. Within this area there are 600,000 people and more than 500 churches—everything from the traditional denominations to a group called House of Prayers.
Whatever their architecture or style, to Edward V. Hill, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Watts and one of the nation’s foremost Negro clergymen, these churches have great significance. Last January Hill helped found the World Christian Training Center, a unique organization created to renovate the spiritual atmosphere of ghettos.
“The Negro is a church-oriented person,” Hill explains. “Only 20 per cent of the people here do not attend church. The problem, therefore, is very dissimilar to the white community’s dilemma. There, getting people into the churches in the first place is difficult. Here, the problem is … what they should be doing—and aren’t—once they get there.”
The CTC, as the training center is called, evolved to train Negroes to be more evangelistic, more capable of teaching Bible studies and leading others to Christ, and more aware of both the demands and the abundance of the Christian life.
The commission of the CTC is threefold: Set your church on fire, win your block to Christ, and win your family. Its strategy is to recruit nuclei of persons out of local churches and neighborhoods and train them in witnessing, biblical fundamentals, and evangelism. Since Hill believes most people don’t really know Jesus, participants are given an in-depth course on the Person of Christ ...1
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