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African American Baptists ready for national growth

ST. LOUIS (BP)–With a goal of establishing a local presence in every state convention, the African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention has named four regional directors in the last six months.

And, with a goal of electing an African American to an SBC vice presidency, attendees at the fellowship’s June 10 annual meeting in St. Louis were encouraged to attend the evening session of the SBC annual meeting June 11 when E.W. McCall of La Puente, Calif., would be nominated as second vice president.

Another goal — increasing the number of African Americans in denominational roles — prompted the fellowship to create a resource committee to identify job openings in the SBC and screen potential African Americans to fill those openings.

“The fellowship has reached a level of maturity,” said Leon Johnson, a founding member of the 10-year-old organization and pastor of Bread of Life Baptist Church in Chicago. “We have accomplished some of our goals.”

The fellowship’s 2002 annual meeting began with a June 10 worship service at Good News Baptist Church in St. Louis, with guest speaker Bishop William Jordan, pastor of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church Cathedral in Harvey, Ill.

Ethel Williams, an administrative assistant with the International Mission Board, was honored for 10 years of service to the fellowship.

“She planned all the programs for the annual meetings, kept the records for the churches and developed a database for the fellowship,” said Roy Cotton of Dallas in making the presentation. “She did servanthood work and it was invaluable.”

At the June 11 business meeting, a Memorial Appreciation Award was given in honor of the late Florida pastor Elroy Barber.

“Dr. Barber revived Westside International Baptist Church and led it to become one of the great churches of our state convention,” said Sid Smith, director of the African American division of the Florida Baptist Convention. “In seven years he led the church to start 28 new churches. The North American Mission Board recognized him as a church starter of the year. He was vice president of the Florida Baptist Convention in 1998 and was elected unanimously in 1999 as president of the Florida Baptist Convention.”

Paulette Barber accepted the award and her son, Terry Barber, spoke in her stead of the love Barber had for people, for the Florida Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Convention and for the African American Fellowship.

“He’s left behind a legacy of kingdom-building for us to do,” Terry Barber said. “May you have the strength to carry on in your various capacities.”

The International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, Woman’s Missionary Union and LifeWay Christian Resources reflecting their connection to African Americans.

“Sisters Who Care” is the name for a new WMU organization specifically for African American women. “We use the term ‘sister’ because the term resonates in both the Christian and African American communities,” Debra Berry told the fellowship.

George O. McCalep Jr., pastor of Greenforest Community Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga., closed the evening with his presidential address.

“Matthew 25:14 is my life verse,” McCalep said. “That has been the basis of my ministry. Through the parable of the talents I learned I did not have to be faithful over everything, but over a few things.

“Whatever you do, be faithful over that what God has given you,” he said. “One of the major problems we have in church today is we think the church belongs to us. The church belongs to God and he’s going to hold you accountable. … Use what you got. Stop making excuses.”

Blessings carry responsibility, McCalep said. “You have to be ready to be blessed,” he said, later adding, “What are you doing that you know you couldn’t do without the Holy Spirit?”

In addition to McCalep, officers of the fellowship are vice president, Robert Anderson Jr., pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md.; treasurer, Leon Johnson, pastor of Bread of Life Baptist Church in Chicago; secretary, Frankie L. Harvey, a member of Nacogdoches (Texas) Bible Fellowship; parliamentarian, M.A. Thompson, pastor, New Bethlehem Baptist Church, Cleveland, Ohio; and historian, Robert Franklin, pastor, Greater Fellowship Baptist Church, St. Louis.

Phillip Davis, pastor of Nations Ford Community Church, Charlotte, N.C., is the Eastern time zone regional director; Willie Jordan, pastor of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, Harvey, Ill., Central time zone; Manning Perkins, pastor of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, Denver, Mountain time zone; E.W. McCall Sr., pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church, La Puente, Calif., Pacific time zone.