RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Visionary leader. Over and over those two words were used to describe the late Elroy Barber.
Sid Smith of the Florida Baptist Convention staff used the words to describe Barber as he spoke of his friend. The words were voiced in a video commemorating Barber. And they were printed in the program of a banquet at which Barber was honored as the seventh recipient of the Black Southern Baptist Heritage Award.
Barber received the 2002 award posthumously at LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center during the Aug. 5-9 Black Church Leadership Week.
Barber was pastor of Westside Baptist Church, Hollywood, Fla., when he died in May 2001.
He was elected president of the Florida Baptist Convention in 1998, marking the first time a state Baptist convention in the Deep South had elected an African American president.
Barber also served as moderator of the Gulf Stream Baptist Association; a member of the Florida convention’s state board of missions; and first vice president of the Southern Baptist African American Fellowship. He also had been honored as a Church Planter of the Year by the North American Mission Board.
Barber’s wife, Paulette, accepted the award on his behalf.
“Ministry was an adventure with Elroy,” she said among laughter and knowing smiles. “He always loved Black Church Week and I loved seeing him relax here.”
She said her husband “always had an agenda when he came to this conference. He would meet as many young pastors as he could and just encourage them.”
Barber thanked the crowd for attending the banquet in honor of her husband, saying, “I’ve been to so many of these [banquets] myself, but I never thought that I would be the one standing up here.
“I just thank God that God healed Elroy in death,” she concluded. “But please continue to pray for our family.”
Approximately 1,300 people attended Black Church Leadership Week. The conference was sponsored by five Southern Baptist Convention entities — LifeWay Christian Resources, International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, Annuity Board and Woman’s Missionary Union.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: DECEASED PASTOR HONORED.