July 20, 2023 - Mayor Tom Henry today announced that he will partner with a number of African American pastors to launch a new group called the Ubuntu Collaborative. Ubuntu means “I am because we are,” and the hope of the newly developed group is to reignite the rich history of advocacy and collective impact that was present in the generations of unified African American pastors that came before. Also, the goal is to further engage and serve the African American community by uniting the strengths, talents and passions of all of the pastors who will be a part of the Ubuntu Collaborative. Mayor Henry will host quarterly meetings with the pastors with the intent of combining the collective wisdom and diverse resources of the pastors along with the resources of the City of Fort Wayne to effectively address the various needs and challenges that exist within our community.

Other leaders who attended with a desire to partner include Fire Chief Eric Lahey, Allen County Prosecutor Michael McAlexander, Allen County Juvenile Judge Andrea Trevino, Councilwoman Michelle Chambers, Councilwoman Sharon Tucker, Adams Township Trustee Denita Washington, Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director Joe Jordan, Community Foundation President & CEO Brad Little, Fort Wayne UNITED Chairman Iric Headley and Surack Enterprises Founder Chuck Surack. 

The Ubuntu Collaborative will focus on:

  • LEADERSHIP – Mentorship and Development
  • COLLABORATION – Strengthening and Securing Assets
  • CONNECTION – Build Disciples
  • FAMILY – Marriage and Parenting
  • ECONOMIC – Finances and Development
  • PASTORAL SUPPORT – Support and Collaboration Between Pastors
  • MINISTRY ADMINISTRATION – Operational Support

“As we embark on this journey of collaboration, it is our aim to model unity, love, and compassion to the community,” said Pastor Payton. “We believe that by working together, along with Mayor Henry, we can become a catalyst for positive change, leaving a lasting legacy of transformed lives and thriving neighborhoods.”

“Since I took office, I’ve strived to do everything I could to make our community more inclusive,” said Mayor Henry. “That’s why starting Fort Wayne UNITED to help the black men and boys in Fort Wayne gain respect and value was so important. And it continues to be a critical component of our learning and leading in the most equitable ways. But, as I’ve said, Fort Wayne UNITED, United Front, and all of the programs under the Fort Wayne UNITED umbrella, are parts of a unique journey to becoming a community where everyone is treated equally and has a chance to reach their full potential. My partnership with the newly formed Ubuntu Collaborative is just another layer that I believe will have a lasting and meaningful impact because we’re combining our strengths and working together.”

Leaders of Ubuntu Collaborative:

Pastor Anthony Payton – Come as You Are Community Church

Pastor David Spearman – Kingdom First

Pastor Anthony Pettus – Greater Progressive Baptist Church

Pastor Robert Bell – True Love Baptist Church

Denny Howard – LIVStyles/Vitality Care Institute

Heath Lisenby – Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Iric Headley – Fort Wayne UNITED and Surack Enterprises

David Nicole – Headwinds Consulting

Pastors that attended today’s press conference:

Luther Whitfield

Karen Staton

Kim Curry

Isaac Davis

Jesse Beasley

Devon Debase

Gonzalee Martin

Jack Fitzpatrick

Maurice Culver

Crystal Thomas

Timothy R. Williams

Mitchell N. Griffin

Raymond Dix Jr.

Greg Rowland

Marcus Neal

Thayer Williamson

Jimmie Ruffin 

Gary Griffin Jr.

Fort Wayne UNITED is a Mayoral initiative that places two national efforts, Cities United and My Brother's Keeper, under one umbrella. It is designed to answer the call to enhance opportunities, advance youth advocacy and help create a safer city for all, but more specifically for black men and boys. By bringing together a group of passionate and committed leaders, the initiative will educate, inform and engage the community in an effort to make positive change one neighborhood at a time.

Fort Wayne UNITED’s vision is for every black male in Fort Wayne to be respected and valued with an opportunity to reach their full potential. The mission is to advocate for and implement policies, practices and procedures to ensure equity and opportunity for black fathers, brothers and sons at home, work, school, and the community through collaborative efforts.