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Black leader encourages ‘theology of presence’ in SBC leadership

PHOENIX (BP)–The way to become a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention is to become known and respected, the denomination’s second vice president said.

E.W. McCall Sr., longtime pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church in La Puente, Calif., spoke on the subject of denominational leadership during the inaugural seminar of the Black History Project, June 14 in Phoenix at Bethesda Community Baptist Church prior to the June 17-18 SBC annual meeting.

“Get involved on the local level,” McCall said. “Stay involved when you’re popular and when you’re not.” Though whites may ignore you and blacks castigate you, be a friend and be friendly, he said. Over time, you’ll make friends and that will lead to making a difference.

“Show up at local, associational, state and national events; at Glorieta [Southern Baptists’ conference center in New Mexico] — and not just Black Church Week,” the California pastor said. “And bring your people with you.

“There’s something to be said for the theology of presence, what you do, the way you carry yourself,” McCall continued.

He spoke of laboring on, despite indifference or opposition.

“You can’t be a quitter,” he said. “When you’re not given opportunities, you can’t give up. You can’t get discouraged.”

McCall exhorted listeners to lead their churches to give to the Cooperative Program, the SBC’s primary method of supporting global Kingdom growth.

Jumping ahead to get a glimpse of what it might be like to move from the bleachers to the field of involvement, McCall spoke of the need for those who are elected for various positions to do a good job.

“Keep it a priority,” he said. “You must serve well when elected. You’re there to help, not hinder. Listen twice as much as you talk. Be known as a team player. Do your part. Carry your load.”

McCall challenged his listeners to examine their theology to ensure it is biblically correct so there will be no conflict on that score with others in denominational service.

“We can’t be so Afro-centric,” McCall said. “We must be Christ-centered.”