Hinton: 'Angels' needed to help children, families in crisis

 

The preacher speaking at the pulpit almost paused as a man walked into the church.

The Rev. Darrell L. Armstrong was delivering the eulogy at his mother's funeral in 1998, and he was startled, then angered, to see his mother's longtime companion — a man who had abused her, as well as Armstrong and all three of his brothers, a man who had been with her when she fatally overdosed.

Armstrong wanted to leap out of the pulpit and chase the villain out of the church.

Only his grandmother's audible weeping kept him from ejecting the abuser.

Armstrong told an audience of metro-area spiritual leaders that the moment made him even more determined to continue helping children and families in crisis.

"I again rededicated myself to helping families become stronger," he said Tuesday at a clergy training conference in Oklahoma City.

The New Jersey minister served as keynote speaker for the Faith Communities Protecting Children: Recognizing and Responding to Adverse Childhood Experiences Conference, an interfaith event held at Metro Tech Business Conference Center, 1900 Springlake Drive.

The conference was sponsored by the Potts Family Foundation, Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Center on Child Abuse & Neglect, Department of Human Services Office of Community & Faith Engagement and Oklahoma Conference of Churches. Organizers said Oklahoma children are among those at greatest risk for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), according to recent America's Health rankings, and the conference was designed to share information on prevention and protection with faith leaders and groups who work with children and youths in houses of worship.

Armstrong, 50, shared knowledge gleaned from his background as pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, New Jersey, and as founder of the Institute for Clergy Training, which seeks to train spiritual leaders in ways to protect children and strengthen families. He shared statistics he has compiled as a Stanford University and Princeton Theological Seminary graduate, as an expert in the prevention of child abuse and as a respected leader in the national and international child welfare and family strengthening movement.

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