A former foster child whose life experiences were turned into a feature film will be guest speaker at a national faith-themed conference in Oklahoma City.
Antwone Fisher, an author, screenwriter and film producer, will be banquet speaker at the National One Church, One Child Conference set for Oct. 17-18 at the Marriott Hotel and Oct. 19 at Evangelistic Baptist Church of Christ.
Fisher's life was the focus of the 2002 movie “Antwone Fisher,” starring Derek Luke and Denzel Washington.
Valarie Howard, executive director of Oklahoma One Church, One Child, said Fisher was chosen as speaker because of his inspirational message. She said many young people affiliated with various agencies and organizations will be in the audience to hear Fisher's presentation.
One Church, One Child is a minority adoption recruitment program started in 1980 by the Rev. George Clements, a black priest in Chicago who worked to encourage black churches to help find families within their congregations to adopt black children.
Howard said her father, the late Rev. J.L. Davenport, met Clements and was inspired to start the program in Oklahoma in 1988. She said he did so with the help of another Oklahoma minister, the Rev. Eric Mayes, of Lawton.
She said her agency assists the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in finding foster care and adoptive families within the black community. She said black churches have, over the years, opened their doors and allowed the agency's representatives to speak to congregations about opening their homes to foster care children.
Howard said several local ministers are part of the effort, including the Rev. Gerone Free, senior pastor of Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church, who is board president of Oklahoma One Church, One Child, and the Rev. Teron Gaddis, who is a board member. Also, Howard said the organization's national board president, the Rev. M.C. Potter, is senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Tulsa.
Howard said about 150 to 200 people are expected to attend the conference.
Caring for children is not an option but a mandate defined in Scripture, Howard said.
“Many of these kids come from homes that are war zones,” she said. “They have found kids who didn't know when they were going to eat next, when they were going to be beat again. Their parents were on drugs.”
The conference is designed to bring advocates together to talk about problems facing children in the foster care system and solutions to help them.
“Once our hearts have been open to what children really need from us, then we can help these children start to heal and recover,” Howard said.
She said One Church, One Child founder Clements is expected to attend the Oklahoma City conference.
Registration and a One Church, One Child board meeting and dinner will be Oct. 17 at the hotel. The conference will continue Oct. 18 at the hotel, with several sessions and the 7 p.m. banquet featuring Fisher. The Rev. Freddie Haynes III, senior pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas, will be guest speaker at Friday's worship service at the church. It is free to the public.