*The recession has also hit the black community disproportionately hard, shuttering hundreds of churches across the country due to foreclosure. But the greatest challenge may come from a shift in emphasis.

As preaching focuses more on individual prosperity than community uplift, some scholars speculate the decades-old power the black church has exercised as the “soul” of the African American community is “dead” — or on its way there, says Black Christian News.

Sunday (08-28-11) marked the 48th anniversary of the day the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood before 200,000 civil rights supporters and declared, “I Have a Dream.”

Now, with 16 percent of African Americans unemployed and 26 percent living in poverty, King’s dreams of social equality are far from realized. The question is whether the black church will continue to play a role in the progression of the African American community, or if like so many other churches, it will lose grip on its congregations.

The answer to that question will say a lot not just about the role religion plays in the African American community, but the future of black community as a whole.

Read more at BCNN1.com.