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NAAF to return to first meeting site

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–The church where the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention held its first official gathering in 1994 will be the site of the Sunday evening worship service that begins NAAF’s 2010 annual meeting.

NAAF’s annual worship will begin at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 13, at Tangelo Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., where Andrew Pollard is pastor. “LoveLoud through the Great Commission,” the theme of the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 15-16 annual meeting in Orlando, also will be the theme for NAAF’s annual meeting.

“I think it will be a privilege to have [NAAF] come to our church,” Pollard said. “It will be a chance for our congregation to see what part African Americans play in the Southern Baptist community.”

Erik Cummings, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Carol City, Fla., will be the worship service’s guest speaker.

Cummings, president of the Florida African American Fellowship, “is giving us great support as we make our plans for the Florida meeting,” said NAAF treasurer Mark Croston, pastor of East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, Va. “He is an innovative leader among Florida Baptists and greatly appreciated.”

Tangelo Baptist, which began in 1961, meets in a beige concrete block building with a white steeple, and a worship center that seats about 300 people.

On Monday, June 14, NAAF’s business session will begin at 4 p.m. in the room W307A in the Orange County Convention Center’s West Building.

Updates are expected on the ongoing crisis in Haiti, with reports from International Mission Board and North American Mission Board personnel, Croston said.

“Hopefully, with the sizable number of Florida pastors expected at this annual meeting taking place in the center of their state, we will hear reports on Haiti from them too,” Croston added. Florida has had an ongoing relationship with Haitian Baptists for nearly 20 years.

The report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force also is likely to be a topic of discussion, Croston said. The GCRTF report is to be released in its final form May 3 and discussed during the SBC annual meeting.

A new president and vice president are to be elected at NAAF’s business session. The nominating committee has recommended James Dixon as president. He’s pastor of El Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md.

Also during the business session, appreciation will be expressed to Michael Pigg, the NAAF outgoing president, for his leadership over the last two years. Among his accomplishments, Pigg led NAAF last year to inaugurate a “Friend of Pastors” award.

In 2009, the award was presented to Ken Weathersby, vice president for church planting at the North American Mission Board. “We have made great strides as a group mainly because of what God has done through him,” Pigg said last year in honoring Weathersby.

“Our objective as an organization is to facilitate the process of African American pastors engaging in God’s work through the Southern Baptist Convention,” Pigg said at the time. “Our executive council determined we needed to recognize when people really deliver, and Ken Weathersby delivers – every time, time after time.”

Representatives from several SBC entities are to make reports to NAAF during the business session. Leon Johnson, longtime pastor of Bread of Life Missionary Baptist Church in metro Chicago, now retired to the Orlando area, will bring a devotional message.

At a banquet Monday evening, the Friend of Pastors Award and other awards will be presented and Pigg will deliver his presidential address.

“The annual meetings of NAAF and the SBC are important times for us to come together, to worship, to fellowship, to network, to be informed, to be encouraged, and to encourage,” Croston said. “It is a reminder to each of us that there may be many things we can do on our own, but there are a multitude of things we can only accomplish as we band together with likeminded believers in Jesus Christ.”

About 3,800 churches that worship in an African American context affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention.

“I like Dairy Queen, but I like Baskin Robbins and Ben & Jerry’s better,” Croston said. “I am not as much into the toppings as I am the ice cream itself. Dairy Queen has two flavors, but Baskin Robbins — 31! The presence of African Americans and all the other ethnic groups makes our convention more like Baskin Robbins and more like heaven.”
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal for the Louisiana Baptist Convention.