NAAF hears from NAMB's president

by Karen L. Willoughby, posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 (11 years ago)

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--North American Mission Board President Geoff Hammond gave the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention a sneak preview of the SBC's new National Evangelism Initiative June 9.

It was the first time a NAMB president attended the Sunday evening banquet of the fellowship, which was organized in 1992. This year's event drew about 350 people and included recognitions of two longtime influential pastors.

"It's not a program," Hammond said of the NEI. "It's about evangelism as a process: Every believer sharing, every person hearing -– by 2020. God's going to help us."

Hammond asked the NAAF attendees "to make a personal commitment" to the NEI. "Please be praying for all Southern Baptists to make a commitment to it. Whenever we've come together and say, 'Let's do it!' we do more. You'll see as you use it how God blesses it."

Leon Johnson, pastor of Bread of Life Baptist Church in Chicago for 36 years and NAAF treasurer since 1996, was recognized for his life service upon his retirement.

Active in community ministries as well as the NAAF and the SBC, Johnson is a man who is "tall in stature, taller in character," said Joseph Lyles, pastor of Fort Foote Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md.

"He's a gentle, gifted man of God. He's a man of faith; he's a man of finances; he's a man with a future," Lyles said of Johnson.

Johnson said he plans to settle in Clearwater, Fla. In accepting a plaque from the fellowship, he joked that he hasn't found a church yet but he knows where Disney World is.

In recognizing the second pastor, E.W. McCall, Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randelstown, Md., couched his remarks in sometimes teasing terms.

McCall, 38-year pastor of St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church in La Puente, Calif., a former SBC second vice president and former NAAF president, currently is chairman of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary's trustees and also the NAAF West Coast regional director since 1998.

"E.W. McCall is a man who has served God and his generation well," Anderson said. "He's served with dignity, integrity and honor. … His wisdom has helped us sort through and better understand the politics of the Southern Baptist Convention. … He is well-known throughout our convention."

Anderson also spoke of McCall's godly demeanor, lifestyle and "sharp suits" as well as his dedication to biblical preaching.

"Robert Anderson eulogized me," McCall said in his lighthearted response. "I got to hear my own eulogy! He may have buried me, but I'm getting up!

"I was determined to make sure we weren't going in the wrong direction," McCall said in response to Anderson's remarks about McCall's at-times pointed guidance. "Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life."

NAAF President Mark Croston, pastor of East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, Va., was elected in 2007 to serve an unprecedented third year as the fellowship's president because he had invested so much time and energy into arranging task forces with NAMB and LifeWay Christian Resources. The International Mission Board initiated a task force in April 2008 which, like its predecessors, is aimed at learning how the SBC entity could better meet the needs of the African American community.

Croston, in his final presidential address, thanked NAAF members for the privilege of serving them as president.

"Great things have happened at NAMB, LifeWay and now IMB for our churches to be better enabled to do our tasks better," Croston said. He thanked Joe Ratliff, E.W. McCall, Joseph Lyles and George McCalep for laying the groundwork that resulted in the task forces.

"The Lord has worked these things out," Croston said. "It's not by accident that it all will be accomplished."

Preaching on God's anointing, Croston said, "You need an anointing from God" and, indeed, "God has given us the anointing to be who we are." For those attuned to God, he said, "The power of the anointing of God in your life is unstoppable."

In the absence of the NAAF's incoming president -- Michael R. Pigg, pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., whose flight en route from a mission trip to Kenya was delayed -- Croston passed the gavel to James Dixon, pastor of El Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md., and incoming NAAF vice president.

In the business session, a new slate of officers was elected, and one suggestion was made for a resolution to be presented during the SBC's annual meeting.

The officers include Pigg; Dixon; secretary Byron Day, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Laurel, Md.; treasurer Mark Croston; parliamentarian K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia; and Robert Wilson, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ga.

Other officers are: Eastern Region director Stephen Hardnett, pastor of New Christian Bible Baptist Church, Baltimore; Central Region director Roscoe Belton, pastor of Middlebelt Baptist Church in Inkster, Mich.; Pacific Region director A.B. Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in San Diego; and symposium coordinator Wayne Chaney, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Long Beach, Calif.

Upcoming meetings of interest to the more than 1 million members of about 2,500 NAAF member churches: July 21-25 in Asheville, N.C., the Black Church Leadership Conference and Sept. 24-26 in New Orleans, NAAF's fall board meeting and symposium.

Karen Willoughby is managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message and Dakota Baptist newspapers.

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