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Black network elects officers, gives awards

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — The Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network installed officers and gave awards to four individuals during its meeting prior to the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans.

The group discontinued the office of executive director, stating that the late Sid Smith, the network’s founder, had established the group so well that there is no longer a need for the position.

“He was able to put us in a position where we don’t need an executive director now,” said Willie McLaurin, ending his term as network president. “There’s not another Sid Smith. We honor him and appreciate him.”

Elected as the network’s new officers are president, Eugene McCormick, a strategist with the Florida Baptist Convention’s African American church development team; vice president, McLaurin, a Tennessee Baptist Convention strategist for leadership development/seminary extension; secretary, Charles Grant, a LifeWay Christian Resources church consultant; and treasurer, Jeffrey Curtis, also a LifeWay church consultant.

Jay Wells, who retired this year as director of African American ministries in LifeWay’s church resources division, was honored in his absence with the Sid Smith Denominational Leadership Award.

The network honored Ken Weathersby with the Kennedy Boyce Award for trailblazing service as the North American Mission Board presidential ambassador for ethnic church relations. He previously was NAMB’s associate vice president for ethnic mobilization. The award is named for the pastors of the first two African American churches to join the SBC in 1953.

Robert Anderson, a Maryland pastor ending eight years as an SBC Executive Committee member, received a denominational appreciation award. Dexter Hardy, an African American church starter strategist with the Baptist State Convention of Michigan in Fenton, also was recognized with a denominational appreciation award, although in his absence.

McLaurin was invited to serve a second term as president but said his responsibilities coordinating the Tennessee convention’s transition in selling its Brentwood, Tenn., property will occupy much of his time during the next 18 months.

In his presidential address, “Taking Care of the Father’s Business,” McLaurin encouraged the network in seeking the lost and bringing them to salvation, focusing on the Gospel of Luke’s accounts of the nativity, deity, divinity and ministry of Christ.

“Jesus is inviting you and I to be about the father’s business,” McLaurin said, encouraging the network to anticipate tribulation while being assured of peace.

“Whenever you encounter the Gospel, it is a Gospel that invites storms,” he said, “but it is also a Gospel that brings peace.”

The network also heard updates from various SBC entities and network committees.

Jeffery Friend, pastor of Suburban Baptist Church in New Orleans and president of the Louisiana African American Fellowship, hosted the June 17 meeting.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer.