If you’re involved in Maryland politics, you know who the Suitland-based Maryland Business Clergy and Partnership (MBCP) is and the influence and power it has created by bringing a group of 200 churches and businesses together to support a single platform.

The organization is believed, by several figures in the political arena, to be the first organization of its kind in the U.S. and its Co-Chairman Joe Gaskins said there are plans to establish more chapters across the nation, including the District of Columbia where the organization helped win victories for Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7).

Bruce Branch (Courtesy Photo)

The organization has also helped to deliver 60 percent of Donna Edwards’ voting base when she ran for U.S. Senate and were strong backers of Ingrid Turner in her race for Circuit Court Judge despite the fact she was not endorsed by the judicial system.

From going against the grain and supporting Larry Hogan for Maryland Governor, to advocating for small business interests and jobs during the construction of the MGM National Harbor, to fighting against term limits, in just three short years the organization has become a force to be reckoned with in county and state politics.

MBCP along with the National Baptist Convention DC & Vicinity are scheduled to host an Empowerment Prayer Breakfast, including special guest Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on May 19 at 7:30 a.m. at Southern Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Md. One of the primary sponsors of the $75 per person event is Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin (D – District 9), who may be contemplating another run for office and being aligned with pastors and business owners is a good way to start.

Waters, who has been on a one-woman legislative crusade to impeach President Donald Trump, will lead a discussion for county politicians and residents on the effectiveness of Black elected officials, the 2018 mid-term elections, building and sustaining wealth in the Black community and the role of the church in politics, which is an extremely important issue in light of the fact that President Trump signed an executive order that repeals IRS sanctions on faith-based organizations that are actively engaged in political elections.

“They make a difference for voters politically,” said Fort Washington, Md. community activist and businessman Burt Wheeler. ”They have done an amazing job of bringing churches and businesses together for a common goal, but more importantly they keep us educated as to what is going on behind the scenes… I look for them to be very active in the upcoming election and on issues that impact the African American community.”

The MBCP has held political forums, town hall meetings, advocated for medical marijuana licenses and casino licenses for minority businesses, met with candidates both in and seeking office. Gaskins said when the organization first started, they went to candidates. Now, he said, candidates seek MBCP out looking for support.

“We are an independent voice for the people we serve and those people are voters who sometimes don’t get the real truth about the candidates they are voting for. At the end of the day, we believe the best voter is a well-educated voter and sometimes it’s not a Democrat and sometimes it’s not a Republican. We want the best candidate. Not the best (political) party,” Gaskins said.

Former State Del. Aisha Braveboy said that the group plays a significant role in educating the community about politicians and political affairs. “I think Maryland Business Clergy has done a great job of raising issues that are important to the community, but other people don’t want to talk about. They have had a significant impact because they are forcing (elected officials and candidates) to become more transparent,” she told the AFRO.