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African American Fellowship president calls pastors to spiritual renewal

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–A Christlike compassion on the people who are like sheep without a shepherd was urged by the president of the African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention in a June 11 luncheon.

Joseph W. Lyles of Fort Washington, Md., declared that to be effective witnesses Christians must be willing to “travel through the storm” as the disciples did with Jesus to get “to the other side.”

Pastors must provide for their own spiritual renewal to be adequately prepared for the challenges inherent to preaching the gospel, said Lyles, addressing more than 100 fellowship members and supporters at the Omni Rosen Hotel in Orlando, Fla.

Lyles said pastors must provide for their own spiritual renewal to be adequately prepared for the challenges inherent to preaching the gospel. “Even Jesus took time away from his disciples,” he observed.

When church leaders lose their compassion and ability to deal with “the common man and his struggles,” Lyles warned, “instead of a warm doxology, we end up with a cold theology.”

Lyles also expressed concern for churches having “church administration, but no spiritual inspiration.”

Throughout his message, Lyles emphasized the need for compassion from church leaders and within church ministries while expressing the need from strong pastoral leadership.

Lyles challenged the fellowship to do what is necessary so they and their churches may “reap his harvest.”

Prior to the presidential address, several denominational representatives brought greetings and presented awards on behalf of their respective agencies.

Leroy Fountain of the Annuity Board outlined services and benefits available to pastors and other church employees through the Dallas-based SBC agency.

Elgia Wells, black church development consultant at LifeWay Christian Resources, presented the Black Church Development Christian Education award to Houston pastor Ameal Jones and Mount Ararat Baptist Church. Jim Culp of the Baptist General Convention of Texas accepted the award on Jones’ behalf.

Following Wells’ presentation, E.W. McCall of La Puente, Calif., acknowledged the fellowship’s gratitude to the Annuity Board and LifeWay for their contributions toward underwriting the annual luncheon meeting. McCall encouraged fellowship members to learn more about LifeWay resources.

Fellowship members applauded as George McCalep, pastor of Greenforest Community Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga., announced an agreement with LifeWay Christian Stores to increase their inventory of African American titles by carrying books produced by his publishing company, Orman Press.

David Cornelius, former career missionary and International Mission Board director of African American church relations, presented the 2000 Simmons Award to Isaac Durosinjesu Ayanrinola. The award is named in honor of Willie Simmons, the first African American employed at IMB in the area of African American missions involvement. Cornelius introduced Ayanrinola as “a product of your mission dollars, your missionaries and of Southern Baptist work in his native country of Nigeria.”

Three awards were presented by Robert Wilson, manager of the African American church planting unit of the North American Mission Board.

The Victor T. Glass Award, given annually for contributions made by Southern Baptists toward racial reconciliation, was presented to Daniel Page for his reconciling work in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina, as well as for contributions he has made since his retirement from full-time denominational work.

Acknowledging a changed focus within the North American Mission Board from cooperative ministries to planting indigenous African American churches, Wilson then presented the Church Planter Award to W. Charles Howard, who has planted more than 17 churches in the state of Florida.

Rochelle Davis, pastor of Temple of Faith Baptist Church, Detroit, Mich., was presented a church sponsor award “for outstanding leadership in sponsoring congregations.” During his 32-year tenure at Temple of Faith, Davis has led his congregation to sponsor five church starts. Additionally, under his leadership as associational chairman of the missions development council, nine churches have been planted in the Detroit areas this year alone.

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  • Olivia M. Cloud