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SBC DIGEST: Black SBC visionary dies; EC amicus brief denied

Editor’s note: This article was updated after initial publication to add comments from SBC Executive Committee Chairman Philip Robertson.

Rochelle Davis, founding member of Black SBC fellowship, dies at 87

By Diana Chandler

DETROIT (BP) – Rochelle Davis Jr., a missions visionary and founding member of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention (NAAF), died Dec. 4 in Detroit at the age of 87.

He pastored Temple of Faith Baptist Church, the congregation he founded in 1968, throughout his entire 53-year pastoral career, transitioning to pastor emeritus in 2021. He was an active leader at various levels of SBC life.

Photo from Temple of Faith Baptist Church website

“Pastor Davis’ profound impact on the community, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and the National African American Fellowship resonates through the decades of unwavering service and dedication to God’s work,” NAAF said in a press release, terming Davis a “visionary in missions” and a “passionate SBC activist.”

He helped found NAAF in 1993 as the African American Fellowship of the SBC.

Missionally, he coordinated trips to Botswana, South Africa, and participated in mission trips to Kenya, St. Lucia, Brazil, and locations in England.

His “pastoral influence and commitment to missions was so profound,” NAAF said, “that three years after he retired and the pulpit was vacant, the Temple of Faith Baptist Church was recognized … as one of the top 10 African American SBC churches giving to the Lottie Moon Mission Offering.”

He held several leadership and service positions at the associational, state and national levels, including an executive board member of the Greater Detroit Baptist Association, president of the pastors’ conference of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM); BSCM first and second vice president and executive board member, president of the African American Fellowship of Michigan, a member of the former SBC Committee on Boards and Agencies and an International Mission Board trustee.

He served his community as a member of the Detroit Neighborhood Reformation Team and the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance.

He was preceded in death by his wife Mariah Drayton and is survived by three children.

Davis was funeralized Dec. 16 at Temple of Faith Baptist Church.

Executive Committee denied motion to file amicus brief in McRaney/NAMB case

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — An amicus brief filed by the SBC Executive Committee in the case of Will McRaney versus the North American Mission Board was denied by Judge Dana M. Douglas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Douglas did not provide a reason for the denial.

“I am surprised that our motion to file the amicus brief was denied, and the court did not give any explanation for its denial,” SBC EC Chairman Philip Robertson said in written comments to Baptist Press. “We simply do not know why the court made this unusual decision, and any guesses would be pure speculation. However, I am confident that our amicus brief correctly stated for the record our polity as a convention, which was the purpose for the brief. Unfortunately, we are in a litigious season within the SBC, and it is important that our polity be clearly communicated to the courts.”

The EC originally filed an amicus brief on Dec. 4. However, no permission to file had been granted, which led to the document being received but with no action taken at that time. Two days later McRaney filed in opposition to the EC’s amicus brief filing; the EC filed a reply to that opposition Dec. 12. That preceded Judge Douglas’ Dec. 15 denial of “the opposed motion of the Executive Committee … to file an amicus brief.”

Another brief filed Dec. 12 in support of NAMB was accepted by the judge. That brief was joined by the Religious Freedom Institute, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists and several others.

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