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NAAF syncs schedule, strategy to SBC’s

PHOENIX (BP)–The National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention has modified its annual meeting to coordinate with the schedule and emphasis surrounding this year’s SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.

The NAAF annual banquet, which previously was held on Monday evening, has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, in Room 129 A/B, Level 100, at the Phoenix Convention Center, site of most SBC annual meeting activities.

NAAF’s president, James Dixon Jr., said the fellowship is “changing our banquet time because we want to attend the Pastors’ Conference. On Monday night there is going to be a commitment time for pastors to sign up to sponsor a church plant. I think there is a good opportunity for us to participate in the way the North American Mission Board is working to set up a network of churches for church planting.”

NAAF’s schedule also will include participation in Crossover Phoenix activities; a Sunday evening worship service; and a Monday afternoon business session.

“We’re going to give support to and work along with the African-American churches participating in the Phoenix Crossover,” said Dixon, pastor of El-Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md. “There is strength in numbers, and if that strength is empowered by God, we can help strengthen African American churches across the region.”

The Sunday worship service is slated 6:30 p.m. June 12 at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, 931 S. Stapley Drive in Mesa, about 20 miles east of the Phoenix Convention Center.

Canaan, dually aligned with the Southern and National Baptist conventions and started in 1989, has grown to more than 350 families who have “One voice, one vision, one victory,” according to the church’s website. Sherman Fort has been pastor nearly from the beginning of the congregation, when the founding pastor was transferred with the military. The vocational staff includes three other pastors and several ministry leaders.

In keeping with NAMB’s church planting emphasis, Canaan is among the sponsors of the Live Laugh and Love Fellowship in Tempe, which met for its first worship service March 6.

Sunday evening’s guest speaker will be Tyrone Barnette, founding pastor of the Atlanta-area Peace Baptist Church in Decatur. Six years after Peace was established in 1993, it started the first of what are now six church plants across Metro Atlanta. Canaan’s music ministry will provide worship leadership for the gathering.

The annual NAAF business meeting, including the election of officers, will be at 4 p.m. Monday in Room 230, Level 200, of the convention center.

Dixson said the business session will include a discussion of the four new strategies NAAF is embracing:

— Improvements in race relations and unity in the SBC.

— Connection of African American churches to the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence.

— Involvement of more African American churches in mission opportunities from a Kingdom perspective.

— Unification of all the presidents of the diverse SBC fellowships through the formation of a multi-cultural council.

“My objective is to bring about community among all people groups within the SBC family,” Dixon said. “It is my desire to build upon the present foundation whereby people will bring value to, and see value in, what we do as a fellowship.”

At the Tuesday evening banquet, Dixon will deliver the president’s address; representatives of SBC entities will bring greetings; and special recognitions will be made.

“In light of the changes taking place in SBC, our annual meeting this year will be an exciting one for others to come and see the direction we are embracing,” Dixon said. “As we engage the four areas of focus, there are opportunities of interest that may inspire individual involvement and commitment. We are expecting God to do mighty and great things among us.”
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal for the Louisiana Baptist Convention.