Five Baltimore pastors who once led the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance released a statement Tuesday bemoaning the IMA’s diminished role in civic life and its process for endorsing a mayoral candidate in the June 2 primary election. I refer to this in my May 20 Sun column, but not at the length it deserves. So I post it below.

The pastors, all past presidents of the IMA, sent me this statement for a couple of reasons: Many Baltimoreans still associate them with the IMA though they have not been members for years, and they want to make clear they had nothing to do with the IMA’s endorsement of Mary Miller for mayor. Bishop Douglas Miles, right, says he and the other past presidents disagree with the IMA’s current leadership and what they say is a lack of transparency in the alliance’s vetting process of political candidates. “This has nothing to do with Mary Miller,” Miles told me, emphasizing that the IMA’s customary process of interviewing candidates and holding forums had not been followed. Miles said none of the past presidents had yet announced their endorsements in the mayoral election.

Also, the past presidents for the first time are speaking out about the changes to the IMA under the direction of the Rev. Alvin Gwynn. The letter follows, and I will follow with another column soon. The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance was once larger and more influential than it is today, and the changes to the organization over the last decade is a story waiting to be told.

2020 Endorsement of the IMA: Letter from past presidents Bishop Douglas Miles, Koinonia Baptist Church; Rev William C. Calhoun, Trinity Baptist Church; Rev. Johnny Golden, New Unity Baptist Church; Rev. Gregory Perkins, St. Paul Community Baptist Church; and Rev. Arnold Howard, Enon Baptist Church

In any organization that is worth its salt and is about the enhancement of the beloved community, it must always exude integrity, be tenacious in carrying out its mission, be exacting in its history, and be true to itself and the people who will be affected as a result of its actions. This stance was indicative of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance in its former days.

This missive is delivered to the Baltimore metropolitan citizenry, in the hopes of setting the record straight as to the IMA’s history, its processes of endorsements, and the actions taken as voice on behalf of the marginalized, the poor, the disenfranchised, and the disinherited.

The original IMA was always a group that was interracial, cross generational, ecumenical, and made up of clergy men and women from the city and surrounding counties. Its leadership was dynamic in its representation of the group with varied and sundry styles. It was known for its ability to engage the powers that be in both corporate and governmental entities. It engaged ecclesiastical leadership to use its influence for social change and betterment.

The Alliance was the progenitor of two organizations that had and still has a major impact on the lives of people. Firstly it created its brainchild for organizing communities in the city, Baltimoreans United for Leadership Development (BUILD), The Maryland Food Committee, and the precursor to the Associated Black Charities, the Black United Fund. It had the ability to coalesce with other clergy bodies, human and civil rights organizations, and educational institutions.

Unfortunately, we the undersigned former leadership of the IMA feel that the original intent, mission, and actions of the IMA have been obscured by its present leadership. It has lost its raison d’etre and no clear reason that gives qualitative substantive underpinnings for its endorsements. Secondly, according to present candidates running for the mayoral office, and others, many were not included in the vetting process. Thirdly, it has not propagated the issues and concerns publicly as to the community’s agenda. Fourthly, it lacks transparency in that there was no announcement of hosting a forum for citizens to at least see and hear how candidates stood on the issues. The public and candidates were ignorant as to how and what the screening process would be formulated.

We also make clear that the original IMA was an organized body of clergy but not an incorporated one. That was the reason for our ability to endorse. We have learned since that it is an incorporated body. The question is how one can make an endorsement of any candidate under such auspices?

It is our position that the current IMA has wavered from the original founders and succeeding presidents and clergy members. There is clear distinction between the two.

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