African Americans hear call for revival

Monday, Jun 20, 2011
By Karen L. Willoughby

PHOENIX (BP)--The multi-ethnic emphasis of the Southern Baptist Convention's 2011 annual meeting has made it "one of the best conventions I've ever been to," James Dixon told participants at the National African American Fellowship June 14.

Dixon, in his second year as president of the organization that was founded in the early 1990s, said he chose 33 years ago to cooperate with the SBC. The pastor of El-Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md., said, however, he had a concern.

There have been many initiatives for multi-ethnic inclusion in the SBC, "and every time it's staying on the table," Dixon said.

"We really need to repent," the pastor said. "Sin hinders us from carrying out the will of God. ... I've been hearing all day we need revival. No, we need healing. [Sin] is not going to go away until we deal with it," Dixon said in talking about sin that replaces God's best for the best humans can do without Him.

"We need to be sure God be glorified in all our efforts," Dixon said.

Preaching from Hebrews 12 about men who learned from their mistakes, Dixon said, "Failing doesn't make you a failure," noting, "The cost to quit is greater than the cost to fail. ... The call on your life is an eternal call. You've got to be careful with it."

The banquet also included greetings from SBC entities and from Vance Pittman, president of the SBC Pastors' Conference.

NAAF's business session opened with an extended time of prayer and included greetings from Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board. Bob Loggins, who leads a prayer and spiritual awakening emphasis for the Missouri Baptist Convention, directed NAAF members through Psalms 121, 51 and 37 to ask God for cleansing personally and corporately throughout the body of Christ.

Dixon had appointed four ad-hoc committees earlier in the year, and chairmen of three of the teams reported during the NAAF business session. The fourth report -- on racial reconciliation -- is to be presented during the annual Black Church Leadership Week, July 18-22 at LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center.

Michael Pigg, pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., reported on the work of the Great Commission Resurgence team.

The GCR team supported the SBC Executive Committee's recommendations regarding ethnic inclusion in SBC life, which were adopted by the SBC June 14; determined that NAAF should take a lead responsibility in the continuation of a multi-ethnic consortium; affirmed the new Send North American church planting strategy of the North American Mission Board, with a suggestion that the NAAF president discuss with NAMB the possibility of more ethnic focus; and that NAAF develop ways of including more black groups such as Caribbean, Puerto Rican, Haitian and African.

Tyrone Barnette, pastor of Peace Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., reported on the work of the missions team.

By working with churches engaged in national and international missions, awareness could be heightened to the point that "mission empowerment conferences" could take place in each of NAAF's time zone regions by 2013, Barnette said. This also would involve pastors experienced in missions trips mentoring those without experience.

NAAF will assist churches, associations and state conventions in planting 150 new African American churches by December 2012, plus 25 more in 2013, and 25 more in 2014, Barnette added. The missions team suggested a National African American Fellowship church planting network might need to be organized to keep the focus strong. In addition, the mission team suggested NAAF churches partner with non-African American churches to plant 25 non-African American churches in by 2014.

Barnette identified other suggestions from the team: sponsoring a black student leaders mission trip by December 2013, providing disaster relief training opportunities, and recognizing churches that take the lead in promoting and engaging in missions.

NAAF officers for 2011-12 include Dixon, president; A.B. Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif., vice president; Mark Croston Sr., pastor of East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, Va., treasurer; and Byron Day, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Laurel, Md., secretary.

National vice presidents/regional directors include Brian King, pastor of Ezekiel Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa.; Roscoe Belton, pastor of Middlebelt Baptist Church in Inkster, Mich.; and Garland Moore, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Milan, N.M. A fourth regional director position is vacant.

Robert Wilson, associate pastor at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta, is the group's historian, and K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa., is the parliamentarian.
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Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message.

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