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NAAF agenda: exec. dir., black church plants

HOUSTON (BP) — Hiring a full-time executive director, holding regional leadership conferences and helping blacks attend college and plant churches are on the agenda for the National African American Fellowship’s annual meeting, June 9 and 10 in Houston.

The recommendations will be addressed during NAAF sessions held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 11-12 annual meeting at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, said A.B. Vines, NAAF president and pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif.

“My last year of being the president, I want to have scholarships rolled out, the interim … executive director hired, start raising [the] NAAF funding budget and the planting network — those are my four main agendas,” Vines said, “and also to … help promote mission trips for African Americans. If I can get three of those five things done in my last year, I’ll think I’ve done OK.”

The priorities were approved at the NAAF annual board meeting in March for presentation to the full group at the annual fellowship meeting Monday, June 10, from 4–6 p.m. in Rooms 362D-E on Level 3 of the convention center.

NAAF plans to hire an interim executive director in June, transitioning into a permanent position, Vines said, to cohesively implement NAAF’s yearly agendas and give the group’s president more time to serve his pastorate.

The executive director will “ensure that the mission and vision of those agendas are executed in a timely manner to make sure they’re effective,” Vines said. “That will be his full-time job to make sure those things are being handled.”

Hosting four regional black church leadership conferences in addition to the Ridgecrest Black Church Leadership Conference aims at reaching churches unable to attend the national event, Vines said.

“It’s difficult for everybody to get to Ridgecrest, especially from the West or the Midwest,” Vines said. “So we’re going to put on four different ones and make Ridgecrest the national one and still be able to support people in their church growth needs, but do it more locally.”

The regional conferences, in addition to nurturing church leadership, will help people transition to and better understand SBC life, Vines said.

NAAF, in planning to institute two annual $5,000 scholarships, intends to help African American high school graduates enroll in four-year universities, issuing the scholarship each year to one male and one female, Vines said. The NAAF College Scholarship will receive financial support from NAAF and various SBC entities, he said.

“We want to be a party to helping kids go to school,” Vines said, citing a low college enrollment among African Americans. “We would love for them to go to a Southern Baptist school, but any approved, accredited college, we’ll give money to it.”

An NAAF church planting network, with a goal of planting 20 African American churches in the first year also is a priority, would be designed to attract godly, committed and gifted African American church planters who may not fit within the funding guidelines of the North American Mission Board, Vines said.

“I understand their guidelines and I get it,” Vines said, “but there are some great people out there who would love to be part of the SBC.” As an example, he said NAMB does not commission church planters who have experienced divorce, even if it occurred before they became born-again believers. The rule disqualifies potential African American leaders when the SBC is in need of such, he said.

“We feel we can bring some great resources to the African American community by having another way of planting churches through the SBC,” Vines said. “They’ll still be part of the SBC …, but we’ll plant them ourselves, instead of having to go through the process.

“This way, we develop our own funding stream,” he said. “We can help those guys who are good, who have proved themselves faithful and worthy and [are] in a good marriage, to help them plant Southern Baptist churches.”

The NAAF board in March recommended current officers for second terms, including president Vines; vice president K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia; treasurer Mark A. Croston Sr., pastor of East End Baptist Church in Norfolk, Va.; and secretary Byron Day, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Laurel, Md.

Don Conley, pastor of Encanto Southern Baptist Church in San Diego, was recommended to represent NAAF’s western region, vacant the past year. Recommended for second terms are regional leaders Brian King, East; Roscoe Belton, Midwest, and Garland Moore, Mountain.

NAAF’s calendar in Houston includes the annual worship service, June 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Fallbrook Church, 12512 Walters Road, where Michael Pender is pastor. Terry Turner, president of the African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, will preach.

Vines will speak at NAAF’s annual banquet, Monday, June 10, from 6:30–9:30 p.m. in Rooms 360A/B/D/E on Level 3 of the convention center. Tickets, $55 each, are available by contacting Croston at 757-539-3324, [email protected] or [email protected].
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).