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Black Servants Network receives 3rd journal edition

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The third volume of The Journal of African American Southern Baptist History was presented during the annual meeting of the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network June 19 in Nashville, Tenn.

The future of African American organizations in the SBC also was discussed, awards were presented and new officers installed during the session at Berean Baptist Church.

“Black Baptists have been a significant part of Baptists in America,” said Kevin Smith, co-chairman of the African American Southern Baptist History Project, which produces the journal for the Servants Network. “I feel very encouraged by the example of black Baptists who have gone before.” Smith is a Ph.D. candidate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and pastor of Watson Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.

Among the eight journal entries: “Implications of Multiple Affiliation for Black Southern Baptists” by Harold T. Branch, retired pastor of St. John Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas; “The Genesis of Texas African-American Baptists” by Marvin C. Griffin, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Austin, Texas; and “The Sounds of Silence: Tennessee Baptists and Civil Rights” by Tim Boyd, a doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Robert Anderson, president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Rosevelt Morris, president of the Servants Network, both spoke of the need for ongoing unity between NAAF and the network. Anderson is pastor of Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md.; Morris is director of prayer and spiritual awakening for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Dennis Mitchell, director of the strategic readiness team at the North American Mission Board, reported that several of the 200 or more African Americans serving in a denominational role have left their positions with an association, state/regional convention or an SBC entity in the last few years. Meanwhile, 400 associational directors of missions are set to retire within the next three years, many of them in areas where it would be appropriate for the DOM to be an African American.

Mitchell spoke of the “urgency of time” and the importance to African Americans and all members of the SBC that African Americans be among the decision-makers in the convention. “It makes a difference when you’re at the table,” Mitchell said.

Sid Smith, retiring from the Florida Baptist Convention after more than 40 years as a denominational servant, announced that he will not be retiring from his post as executive director of the Servants Network. Rather than list his career accomplishments, the audience was referred to an 11-page autobiographical booklet that was distributed to the 50 or more people who participated in the network’s afternoon session.

As executive director of the Servants Network, Smith passed out certificates of appreciation to 2003-05 officers: Ken Ellis and Dennis Mitchell, both of NAMB; Michael Evans of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; and Maxie Miller of the Florida Baptist Convention.

Rosevelt Morris received the President’s Appreciation Award, while Elgia “Jay” Wells, director of black church development at LifeWay Christian Resources, received the Denominational Appreciation Award.

William J. Campbell, retired regional director of black church relations for the Florida Baptist Convention, received the Servanthood Award. Campbell started the first black Southern Baptist church in Tennessee, Berean Baptist, host church for the Servants Network meeting. He went on to start at least 40 churches in Florida.

W.T. Moore received a Hall of Servanthood award for such career contributions as authoring “His Heart Is Black,” a collection of stories about Anglo pioneers in race relations in the SBC.

T. Vaughn Walker, professor of black church studies at Southern Seminary, received the Denominational Leadership Award for outstanding leadership in preparing African American ministerial students at the doctoral level. More than 25 have received doctorates under his direction, Smith said.

The Kennedy-Boyce Award, named in honor of the two men who made history when they led their churches into the SBC in 1951, was awarded this year to Jimmy Terry, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Clarksvile, Tenn.

“This is an outstanding church and an outstanding pastor,” Smith said.

Smith closed the award presentation by honoring his longtime assistant, Alma Surrency, specifically for her help in compiling, formatting and producing The Journal of African American Southern Baptist History for each of the last three years.

Servants Network officers for 2005-06 are: President, Dennis Mitchell; vice president, Ken Ellis; secretary, Jeffrey Curtis; treasurer, Alma Surrency; parliamentarian, Joshua Smith; executive director, Sid Smith.