According to the 2010 Census, of the 168,000 children living in Memphis, nearly 67,000 — about 4 in 10 — are living in a family with a female householder and NO FATHER PRESENT.
Later this month, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton will host the Second Annual Memphis Training Camp for Dads. (Wharton is writing a guest column about the issue that will run with your response.)
From your perspective, how big is this problem? How do you see if effecting your congregation, your community, the culture at large? What can/should be done about it?
A few days ago six fathers sat around a table in my home. We had gathered to mentor my son Jacob as he prepared for his baptism. Jeff spoke words of wisdom. Trent shared spiritual insight. Sean encouraged Jacob in his next steps. Kirk and David, who have taught Jacob in Sunday School the past year, urged Jacob to keep pursuing God. I shared some thoughts from my own spiritual journey. And Ron, a seventh father, unable to be present that night, coached Jacob via letter. We prayed together. Ate together. Dreamed together of God’s work in and through us.
It was one of the holiest moments in my life. I suspect it will be the same for Jacob.
The event reminded me not only of the importance of my role as Jacob’s father, but of the importance of raising Jacob in a community of fathers. One of the greatest blessings my children have is their experience of belonging to a congregation full of father-figures–godly men who are investing in their lives.
And this, I believe, is one of the greatest roles for the church to play in the society of the fatherless. During an era when so many fathers cannot be found at home, may the church rise up to be fathers to the fatherless and to point to the Father.