Men's Breakfast Report, January 2009

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, January 10 with Tom Watson, pastor of the Eastern Branch Missionary Baptist Church.  Tom is a Brazosport native and has served as a chaplain at various hospitals and prisons. He studied at various seminaries and served in hospitals and prisons throughout the state.  He recently became pastor of the Eastern Branch Missionary Baptist Church and is continuing his prison ministry. 

In his discussion of prisoners he said that many of them are very young.  An entire unit of the prison center has been set up for prisoners under the age of eighteen.  He attributes the large number of young men in the prisons to the lack of good male role models for many of the teenage boys and the excess free time.  The teenagers form gangs which effectively bring them into manhood.  Since there are no adult males guiding them they often turn to criminal activities.  An example he gave was an initiation rite for one gang (not local).  The initiate was to drive around in a car at night with the lights off.  When another car flashed their headlights at him to warn him that he did not have his headlights on, the initiate was to shoot the other car.  There are several gangs in the Freeport area.  They often have gang colors and identifying devices apparent only to other gang members.  For example, one gang may all wear tennis shoes with blue shoelaces. 

We discussed how to reduce the problem.  Tom pointed out that when we were young, church often took the entire day Sunday, which kept the kids out of trouble.  Now many churches are finished by 10 a.m., which leaves rest of the day for the adults to do other things and also for the kids to get into trouble. 

One activity that was discussed was Boy Scouts.  Fifty years ago many churches had Boy Scout troops.  These provided an outlet for the kids and also helped recruit members for the church since parents of the boys would often join the church.  Now almost no church has a troop.  We discussed having several churches sponsor a troop together.  The advantage is that it might be possible to get enough volunteers from several churches where the modern churches have shrunk too much to support troops individually.  Another advantage is that it would encourage people throughout the city to come together and cooperate.  This would be especially useful if the coalition included churches of different ethnicities.  The disadvantage is that the troop would not be an efficient recruiting tool for any one church.  

As usual the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next meeting will be February 14 and all men are invited.