Black denominational network gives key award to Mohler

Communications Staff — June 22, 2004

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, received the highest honor given by the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Network at its annual meeting in Indianapolis.

Mohler received the Dr. Emmanuel L. McCall Denominational Servant Award June 13, with the presence of McCall adding to the occasion. McCall, through his work at the Home Mission Board (precursor to the North American Mission Board) was one of the pioneers in the movement to bring African Americans into the SBC.

Sid Smith, the network’s executive director, said Mohler received the award for four reasons.

“Because Dr. Mohler has embodied the commitment to train Baptist ministers …, because he has embraced black church studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, because he has embraced intercultural studies at the seminary, and because he has put in place Lawrence Smith as vice president of communications, Dr. Mohler, we present you this award,” said Smith, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s African American ministries division.

The words on the plaque presented to Mohler said he received the award for “role modeling the highest characteristics of the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network embodied in the life and ministry of Emmanuel L. McCall.”

“What a humbling experience to receive this award,” Mohler said. “I accept it on behalf of the seminary, which is working hard at its commitment to fulfill its role in building the Kingdom of God throughout all tribes and peoples and nations.

“The Lord God our Creator thrills in the differences among the nations,” Mohler said in brief remarks to the 75 people attending the banquet meeting at Gabriel Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis. “This is the way He made us, for His purposes…. We rejoice in the unity of all the saints across the world testifying before the Lord.”

The network’s annual meeting also included various reports, other awards and the presidential address by Rosevelt Morris, director of prayer and spiritual awakening with the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Morris spoke from Revelation 3 about defining moments, and about the danger of losing your first love, during his presidential address.

“There must be a passion for Christ in denominational servants,” Morris preached. “We’re becoming more and more involved with religious activity. We do the leading, the training and the hoping, but if God isn’t in the business, it ain’t happening,” he said, speaking in the vernacular to make his point.

“God addresses religious activity by saying, ‘I know your deeds,’” Morris continued. “We’re not working for ourselves…. In the midst of doing good things, don’t let the main thing slip away. The key to having a defining love with Jesus is to stay in touch with Jesus the way you did at first.”

“We are progressing; the momentum is building,” Smith said during his executive director’s report. “We need more members and more involvement, but things are coming along well in the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network.”

About 80 of the 200 or more African Americans employed by associational, state and national entities of the SBC are current dues-paying members of the network, which was established in 1997 to mentor and encourage denominational servants.

Hall of Servanthood awards were given to Tom Kelly of California, Jim Culp of Texas and Willie McPherson of Illinois. Victor Ketchens of New York received the Founders Award.

Kelly, former director of the California Southern Baptist Convention’s African American ministries department, is now in what he calls his “fourth career” as African American volunteer mobilization coordinator for the North American Mission Board.

“Ephesians 6:7: Serve the Lord wholeheartedly. That has sort of been the driving force of my ministry,” Kelly said in accepting the award.

Roy Cotton, DFW Metroplex regional consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ church-starting center, accepted the award for Jim Culp, who for 19 years was director of African American ministries for state convention.

James Herron, new work strategist for the Illinois Baptist State Association, accepted the award for Willie McPherson, longtime leader in African American ministries in Florida, who now is a consultant in Illinois.

Ketchens, a founding member of the denominational servants network and now a pastor in the Bronx, New York, is the retired director of African American church planting for the New York Baptist Convention.

“As you go forward, do not leave anyone behind,” Ketchens said, cautioning network members to continue their encouragement of each other.

Roy Cotton, one of the co-chairs for the network’s African American Southern Baptist History Project, spoke of the 21 conference calls involved in the development of the second volume of the project’s journal, released at a June 12 presentation of historical papers. The journal is available through Sid Smith’s office.

“We have already begun work on the 2005 project,” Cotton said.

Milton Boyd, African American church development department director for the Florida Baptist Convention, reported on updates to the network’s website:

The network’s program has been matrixed into three main components, reported Wayne D. Faison, consultant for African American and ethnic evangelism and church planting strategist for the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. The three areas — all with new leaders — are orientation, growth and development, and ongoing communication.

The network’s officers for 2004-05 include Rosevelt Morris, president; Dennis Mitchell, director of the church planting team at NAMB, vice president; Ken Ellis, chaplaincy evangelism associate at NAMB, secretary; and Maxie Miller, coordinator for African American church planting for the Florida Baptist Convention, treasurer.

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