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Pastor looks to reunite community
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Listening to Pastor Carlton Mathis speak, it is easy to tell he is very passionate about every aspect of his life and the lives of those around him.

From preacher to entrepreneur, from community activist to loving father, only a man as fervent as Mathis could juggle so many responsibilities at once.

Six years ago, Mathis heard the calling of God and the congregation of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church who were in need of a new pastor. Since accepting the position, Mathis has been a man on a mission to organize what he describes as a tremendous congregation.

Last August, Mathis organized the "Critical Hour Family Conference" which addressed the rising rates of drug use, gangs and poor school performance in the African American community in Newton County. The conference was such a success, Mathis is already preparing for Critical Hour Two in August.

"It is going to focus on the increasing number of young men who are dropping out of school," Mathis said. "In the African American community, only 35 percent of males graduate with a degree. We are going to focus on the dropouts and the increasing number of gang activities that are taking place in the Covington area."

Mathis hopes to send a clear message that people need to stand up and have a voice in the community.

"We want people to take on responsibility in their own community and to show an alliance between parents and kids," he said. "We want to bring parents and young kids back together again to where the parents are involved with their children's lives."

The conference will also address the importance of family values as it relates to a successful community. Of particular importance will be the father's role in his children's lives.

"If you don't have a male parent in the home young black men are more susceptible to committing crimes and getting into gangs and getting into drugs," Mathis said. "If you don't have strong parents in the home you open the door for tragedies to take place. I believe we need to re-look at the family especially in the African American community and see that we cannot allow our young women to raise our men by themselves. We have to put the male back into the picture."

Those interested in becoming involved before the August conference can also participate in several meetings at Macedonia Missionary throughout the winter and spring. The church will host separate men's and women's breakfasts in March with a goal of community discussion on the major issues facing young mothers and fathers. This includes how best for a father to raise a young man and how mothers can keep their daughters away from images and ideas they should not be exposed to at such young age.

In February, Mathis will lead a financial seminar aimed at educating the community on the basics of refinancing while the mortgage rate is going down and learning to plan for the future.

"I'm passionate about this," Mathis said. "For a long time in the African American community, we've had a mentality that everything we get coming in financially, we spend out without having the responsibility of saving money and investing money. When we don't invest, we don't prepare to leave an inheritance for our future generations and we have got to break that cycle. Until we change our mentality, we are never going to come out of the poorhouse so to speak."

Mathis is a man who surely knows of financial responsibility. Three years ago, he began his own business called Advanced Occupational Solutions. Previously, he managed one of the leading orthopedic occupational clinics in Atlanta where he solicited businesses for their accounts when an employee was hurt on the job. While with the company, Mathis landed major accounts including the City of Atlanta, Atlanta public schools, Delta, FedEx and AirTran.

One day I was taking to Atlanta Mayor (Shirley) Franklin and she said, 'If you can get businesses for somebody else, why wouldn't you get it for yourself?'" Mathis said. "It prompted me to think and to go back and strategize. I decided I wanted to be outside of the box. I don't want to just work for somebody. Instead of punching the clock, I wanted to own the clock."

With the support of his wife LaShanda, Mathis founded Advanced Occupational Solutions. Since starting the drug testing company, Mathis has signed up several large accounts in the Atlanta area.

When he is not preaching or working, Mathis spends his time with LaShanda and their three children, Nicholas, 8, Alia, 4, and Kaela, 6 months old.

"I've been married 13 years and I absolutely love it," Mathis said. "I don't hear enough men talking it up. It is the best thing a man can do. It completes you. My wife is awesome."

For more information about Mathis and the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church programs, please call (770) 922-2661.