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Black church, family conference marks 25 years

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP) — The Black Church Leadership and Family Conference celebrates its 25th year July 16-20 at Ridgecrest Conference Center in Ridgecrest, N.C.

The only year Mark Croston didn’t attend was when obligations at his former pastorate, East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, Va., kept him away, he told Baptist Press ahead of the 2018 event hosted annually by LifeWay Christian Resources.

“Churches from across the country have participated and been blessed by this event,” said Croston, who resigned his pastorate in 2013 to serve as LifeWay’s national director of Black Church Partnerships. “Many who have attended over the years have watched their children grow up together and become lifelong friends. Some are serving in ministry and others are in seminary today preparing for ministry careers.”

The conference theme “Still Turning Things Around,” is based on Isaiah 45:22-25 and is also the focus of the fall 2018 YOU Bible study curriculum, LifeWay’s urban and multicultural series. 2018 marks the curriculum’s 10th anniversary, Croston said.

The conference is designed to encompass transformation and leisure, Croston told BP.

“While other events have come and gone,” Croston said, “Black Church Leadership and Family Conference still seeks to provide the relevant and transformational training that our churches need to meet the challenges of today.”

Croston credits several Southern Baptist Convention groups, the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and the National African American Fellowship of the SBC (NAAF) for the event’s longevity.

“For the past 25 years LifeWay Christian Resources, IMB (International Mission Board), NAMB (North American Mission Board), GuideStone, WMU and NAAF have been coming together to provide training and inspiration in the African American cultural context at Black Church Leadership and Family Conference,” Croston said. “In these latter years the SBC Executive Committee, the ERLC (Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission) and several of our seminaries have partnered as well.”

Biblical edification, worship, fellowship and recreation highlight the event that Croston describes as “a grand reunion of old and new.” Elgia “Jay” Wells, Croston’s predecessor at LifeWay, is expected to attend, and children who grew up in the conference will be among an extensive lineup of ministers and teachers.

Among key speakers are Emory Berry, lead pastor of Greenforest Community Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., and his wife Julie Berry; SBC Pastors’ Conference President H.B Charles Jr., lead pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; Darron Edwards, lead pastor of United Believers Community Church, Kansas City, Mo.; and Tarrance Floyd, lead pastor of Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, Wichita, Kan.

Other key speakers include Vernon Gordon, lead pastor of The Life Church, Richmond, Va.; Dhati Lewis, lead pastor of Blueprint Church, Atlanta; Breonus Mitchell Sr., lead pastor of Mount Gilead Missionary Baptist Church, Nashville; Joe Pace, pastor of worship and arts at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist; and San Pablo, Calif. urban missionary Marshelle Wilburn.

Registration and additional information are available at http://ridgecrestconferencecenter.org/event/blackchurchleadershipfamilyconference#.Wmn0DYeWzq.