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SBC Executive Committee CEO McLaurin greets key California Baptist leaders

Among attendees at a National African American Fellowship luncheon hosting Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Interim President and CEO Willie McLaurin were, from left, Pete Ramirez, interim executive director of the California Baptist Convention; North American Mission Board West Region Director Shane Critser; Chris Morgan, dean of California Baptist University’s School of Christian Ministries; McLaurin; Charles Grant, SBC Executive Committee executive director of African American relations and mobilization; and Jawane Hilton, pastor of Brister Memorial Baptist Church in Compton, Calif. Photo by Gregory Perkins

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (BP) – Key California Baptist leaders discussed Kingdom initiatives with Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Interim President and CEO Willie McLaurin March 14 in Riverside, Calif., in advance of the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting.

Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee interim President and CEO Willie McLaurin greeted California Southern Baptist leaders at a luncheon sponsored by the National African American Fellowship of the SBC. Photo by Gregory Perkins

Gregory Perkins, West Region director of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC, organized the luncheon on behalf of NAAF at California Baptist University (CBU) to allow discussions between McLaurin and state and national leaders based in California.

“I pray that the connections and partnerships between the Southern Baptist Convention EC and the California Southern Baptist state entities, and national partners, will grow deeper,” Perkins told Baptist Press, “that we will strengthen these partnerships so that we can reach more people with the Gospel, so that we can plant more churches, so that more churches will be revitalized.”

McLaurin welcomed the opportunity.

“Collaborative partnerships and cooperation are strengthened when ministry partners intentionally carve out time to engage with one another. It was my honor to engage with California Baptist leaders as we had the opportunity to pray together,” McLaurin told Baptist Press. “Our common bond in advancing the Great Commission at home and around the world is what makes us better together.

“I am incredibly thankful for Pastor Gregory Perkins for coordinating strategic connections that will strengthen our cooperation. I am excited that the larger Southern Baptist family will have the opportunity to see California Baptist on display during the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim.”

Greeting McLaurin were Perkins, lead pastor of The View Church in Menifee; Anthony Dockery, CBU Board of Trustees chairman and senior pastor of St. Stephens Baptist Church in La Puente; Baptist Foundation of California (BFC) President Jonathan Jarboe; BFC Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Courtney Coates; North American Mission Board West Region Director Shane Critser; Adam Groza, Gateway Theological Seminary vice president and associate professor of philosophy, representing Gateway President Jeff Iorg; Brian Kennedy, Gateway associate professor of preaching and senior pastor of Mt. Zion Church in Ontario; Pete Ramirez, California Southern Baptist Convention interim executive director; Mike Carlisle, director of missions, San Diego Southern Baptist Association; and A. B. Vines, senior pastor of New Seasons Church in San Diego.

Perkins described the meeting as an opportunity to leaders to hear updates and pearls of wisdom from McLaurin in advance of the SBC Annual Meeting June 12-15 in Anaheim.

“We are excited that we will be able to showcase the rich diversity of California Southern Baptists and we will be able to share our unique ministry environment to our Southern Baptist family,” Perkins said. “And we’re also excited that if they want to go to the beach, it will be 15 minutes away. If they want to go to Disneyland, it’s a five-minute walk. If they want to go to Hollywood, it’s a simple 30-minute drive. If they want to go to San Diego, it’s just 45 minutes away.”

“This is a family affair,” he said, “as the Southern Baptist family comes to California and we want to share with them what we experience every day.”

Perkins numbered more than 460 predominantly African American Southern Baptist congregations in California among the 4,000 NAAF represents nationally.