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African American Fellowship readies for news from churches

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Gabriel Missionary Baptist Church, it its new building northeast of downtown Indianapolis, will host the worship celebration of the SBC’s National African American Fellowship on Sunday, June 13.

Gabriel’s previous building was acquired by the city through the law of eminent domain. With the money received for their old building, church members were able to buy for $100,000 a property valued at $500,000 “complete with pews, hymnals and all,” said Doug Simpson, director of missions for Metropolitan Baptist Association in Indianapolis.

“The building is bringing the excitement of newness and growth to the congregation,” said pastor Clifton Russell Sr., pastor of Gabriel Missionary Baptist Church, where about 170 people attend Sunday morning services.

“We’re excited to be hosting the African American Fellowship,” Russell said. “It’s an honor and a blessing to welcome people from across the Southern Baptist Convention in to worship with us.”

The worship service will begin at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 13, at the church at 5169 N. Norwaldo Ave. Jerry Dailey, the guest speaker, is president of the African American Fellowship of Texas and pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in San Antonio. He will be joined by the Gabriel Choir, led by Denise Carpenter and Angela Rowe.

On Monday, June 14, the National African American Fellowship’s annual meeting and banquet will begin with a business session at 4 p.m. in the Sagamore Ballroom 1 in the Indianapolis Convention Center, site of the June 15-16 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. The NAAF banquet is to start at 6 p.m. in Sagamore Ballroom 2.

Mezzo-soprano Jacqueline Anderson will minister in song at the Sunday evening service and the Monday evening banquet. A trained classical singer, Anderson has inspired diverse audiences throughout the United States for many years. She recently released her first CD, “Til the First Lady Sings,” a recorded live concert of sacred music. She is the wife of the fellowship’s president, Robert Anderson, pastor of the Baltimore-area Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown.

Frankie Harvey, NAAF secretary, told Baptist Press, “We do have larger African American churches, but, for the most part, the fellowship is made up of smaller churches. We’re making a statement by meeting for worship with a small congregation. We’re saying that small churches are just as important to God’s Kingdom as are large churches.”

About 300 people are expected to participate in National African American Fellowship events.

For the Sunday evening service, NAAF President Anderson said, “expect a rich and delightful time of praise and worship, enhanced by a great time of fellowship in the spirit of Christ, and climaxed by the strong preaching of the inerrant Word of God.”

This year’s SBC annual meeting theme, “Kingdom Forever,” also was adopted by the NAAF.

“We believe God is leading our convention,” Anderson said. “It is our desire to support increased church planting and evangelistic efforts. Furthermore, it is our passion to help people in need in every way possible from outreach to the poor and homeless, structuring programs to build strong families and healthy marriages, to helping churches in the area of economic development. Bottom line, we want to continue to foster good relationships with all in the SBC family.

“We think the Lord has done many fantastic things within the African American church, and we have a lot to offer to the convention as a whole,” Anderson continued. “We want to position ourselves to be able to share with, as well as learn from, all others in the convention.”

Reports from the state and regional African American directors are among the highlights of each NAAF annual meeting, Anderson said.

“It’s exciting to hear what God is doing among us,” he said. “It’s exciting to rejoice with each other and, when appropriate, to celebrate with each other in the Lord.” The SBC’s 43,000 congregations include about 3,000 that worship in an African American context.

An election of officers also will take place at the annual meeting. Officers for 2003-04 include Anderson as president; vice president, Mark Croston of East End Baptist Church, Suffolk, Va.; treasurer, Leon Johnson, Bread of Life Baptist Church, Chicago; secretary, Frankie Harvey, Nacogdoches (Texas) Baptist Fellowship; parliamentarian: Michael Thompson, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Cleveland, Ohio; and historian: Robert Franklin, Greater Missionary Baptist Church, St. Louis.

“If you are looking for a wonderful time of fellowship, song and preaching the Word of God, you don’t want to miss this annual meeting of the National African American Fellowship,” Anderson said. “Second, if you are looking to hear what God is doing among African American Churches in our convention, this is a must-be-present event.”

For information about the NAAF’s annual meeting or joining the fellowship, call Anderson at (410) 655-1080.