News Articles

Servants Network to highlight SBC race relations pioneers

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–“Pioneers in Progress: Past, Present and Future” will be the theme of the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network June 11 meeting in Greensboro, N.C.

The theme for the session, from 2-5:30 p.m. at Greensboro’s Lone Star Restaurant, 3025 High Point Road, echoes that of the fourth edition of The Journal of African American Southern Baptist History, which the network produces.

“Our focus will be on pioneers who have gone ahead and paved the road for us today, including people like T.B. Maston, Joseph Coats, S.E. Grinstead, Foy Valentine and W.R. Grigg,” said Sid Smith, the network’s executive director. “Not everybody is aware of the contributions these men made in their pilgrimage.”

The list includes blacks and whites, all of whom are deceased, Smith added.

“These men made possible the inclusion of African Americans in Southern Baptist life,” Smith said. “It was more than token tolerance; it was a genuine recognition of the additional strength we bring to the Southern Baptist Convention. Today we have more than 150 men and women of color serving in all our boards and entities.”

The first were African American missionaries appointed in 1846 -– John Day and Alexander Jones -– a year after the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Unlike the first three editions of the Journal, the articles this year were written for the most part in the 1960s by W.T. Moore, retired director of inter-racial work for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Honored last year by the network for the book of biographies he wrote, “His Heart is Black,” Moore now lives in Kentucky.

Articles by Smith and Barry Hankins, professor of history at Baylor, also will appear in the journal.

Servants Network President Dennis Mitchell will speak at the Sunday afternoon session on the subject of “The Future of Black Denominational Servants.” Mitchell, director of the strategic readiness team at the North American Mission Board, spoke informally at last year’s meeting on the need to train blacks with a potential for leadership to fill denominational openings as they occur.

Officers also will be elected and various awards announced during the session.

Mitchell also will address the need for training future denominational leaders during the National African American Fellowship’s business session at 4 p.m. Monday, June 12, at the Sheraton in Greensboro.

“One of the great strengths of the SBC is the growth and development of the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network,” Smith said. “The significance of the organization is that for once in history, Southern Baptists’ progress has been guided by well-trained leaders from within. That has made a difference.”