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NAAF hears annual sermon, names two women to board of directors

The Wrecking Crew, a worship team from Friendship Baptist Church in Yorba Linda, Calif., performs during the George Liele Banquet June 13 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Photo by Charissa Graves

Photo by Charissa Graves

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Frank Williams, president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, describes two peculiar aspects of salt, a substance Jesus referenced in telling disciples their function.

If salt becomes too diluted, its flavor can no longer be detected. As salt absorbs moisture, it can absorb dangerous substances that ruin the compound.

“It will still look like salt, but until you taste it, you could not tell that something is wrong with it. Its flavor profile is different than what it actually looks like,” Williams said in his sermon June 13 at the George Liele Missions Banquet in advance of the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention SBC Annual Meeting.

“Jesus is saying to us, I don’t just want you to look like salt, I want the flavor profile of your life to reflect what I have invested in you. You are the salt of the earth and I need you to function like salt where I have placed you. Jesus does not just want us to look the part. He demands that we function in that part.”

Williams delivered his sermon following the NAAF business meeting where NAAF announced the addition of three at-large members to its board of directors also composed of national officers, regional directors and state presidents.

New at-large members are Kim Hardy, a Bible teacher, author and wife of Dexter Hardy, founding pastor of Lifepoint Church in Marietta, Ga.; Reginald Hayes, senior pastor, United Faith International Church, Columbus, Ohio; and Peggy Alexander, a Christian education director and wife of former East Bay Baptist Association (San Leandro, Calif.) Director of Mission Lyman Alexander. The new at-large members join returning at-large member Jason Lumpkin, senior pastor of Love Bridge Church in Austell, Ga.

Hardy and Alexander are the first women to serve on the board, according to NAAF Executive Director Dennis Mitchell.

“These individuals, particularly our two sisters, are phenomenal,” Mitchell said at the business meeting. “To be frank with you, it’s been a long time coming. We are looking forward to their coming alongside and helping us be more effective.”

Williams, in his sermon based on Luke 14:34-35 and Matthew 5:13, told banquet attendees that in Jesus’ day, salt was used to preserve meat and also had to be used to season grain offerings.

“So, as a flavor, salt works with grace,” he said. “So when Jesus says you are the salt of the earth, Paul the apostle helps us to understand what Jesus is saying, that salt and being the salt of the earth actually involves how you handle stuff you don’t like.”

Salt, when used effectively as a preservative, kills bacteria. Therefore, you can’t be the salt of the earth by preserving bacteria, but only by destroying it.

“The salt will preserve, but it necessitates that it does so while it disinfects,” Williams said. “If you preserve the bacteria, you leave what it should have protected at risk. You don’t protect the bacteria. You let the salt destroy it.

“We need salty Christians. We need them in leadership,” he said. “Jesus said very clearly in our text, that if you lose your flavor, men will throw it on the ground, and trample you underfoot.”

In biblical times, salt was only produced when ocean waters evaporated, eroded the surface of rocks and thereby exposed sodium chloride.

“It’s interesting to note that if we are called the salt of the earth, and the compounds of salt are released from the earth when the rain beats on the earth, and then the deposits become visible when the water evaporates,” Williams said, “could it be that the storms that rage in our lives become opportunities to get what is locked on the inside of us out to the rest of the world around us?”

Christianity is revealed in our lives and in our environment during storms, Williams said.

“(Jesus) tells them to rejoice when your trials come, rejoice when accusations come. Rejoice when persecutions come. This sound absurd. It’s even scary. They’re about to enter what we would consider a storm, and Jesus says rejoice,” Williams preached. “You are the salt of the earth. Is Jesus then really saying to us, that as it happens in nature, when the rain falls and beats against the rocks, that when it comes in your life, when it beats against your life, that what is on the inside of you emerges, rubs off, flows, is released to those who are around you, and at the same time, preserves you?”

In addition to Williams’ sermon, NAAF also honored at the banquet key leaders in Southern Baptist life. Honored for their service were Rolland Slade, senior pastor of Meridian Baptist Church in El Cajon, Calif., for his service as immediate past chairman of the SBC Executive Committee; Renee Trewick, immediate past chairwoman of the GuideStone Financial Resources board of directors; and Dhati Lewis, a church planter and immediate past president of Send Network of the North American Mission Board.

Business Meeting

In addition to Williams and Mitchell, the returning slate of NAAF officers includes vice president Bucas Sterling III, senior pastor of Kettering Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro, Md.; treasurer John Rollings Sr., senior pastor of Simeon Baptist Church in Antioch, Tenn.; secretary Kevin James, senior pastor of New Creation Bible Fellowship in Tracy, Calif., and historian Robert Wilson, pastor of Light of the Word Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Jeffery Friend, senior pastor of Suburban Baptist Church in New Orleans, completes his service as NAAF central regional director. Leroy Fountain, retired church health strategist of the New Orleans Baptist Association, succeeds Friend in the post.

Returning as regional directors are western region director Greg Perkins, lead pastor of The View Church in Menifee, Calif.; eastern regional director Jerome Coleman, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Crestmont, Willow Grove, Pa.; and south regional director Emory Berry Jr., founding pastor of The Favor Church in Decatur, Ga.

NAAF serves pastors of the approximately 4,000 majority-African American Southern Baptist congregations.