Home Christian News Insights, Revelations, Fellowship at Black Church Leadership Week

Insights, Revelations, Fellowship at Black Church Leadership Week

black church leadership
Volunteers comprised the Whosoever Will Choir, under the leadership of the music ministry of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., at the Black Church Leadership and Family Conference.(Photo by Aaron Earls)

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP) — Answers to scriptural conundrums greeted attendees of the Black Church Leadership and Family Conference (BCLFC) July 18-22 at Ridgecrest Conference Center in Ridgecrest, N.C.

What happened in Matthew 17 as the disciples of Jesus tried to cast a demon out of a little boy? “The demon defied their attempts. How did the demon know, ‘I don’t need to obey?’” ponders New York Pastor Frank Williams. “Jesus said, at its root, there is some unbelief somewhere (among the disciples). How did Jesus know it was unbelief? He’s the son of God. He knows everything. OK. How did the demon know it was unbelief?

Frank Williams, president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, preached on the opening night of the Black Church Leadership and Family Conference July 18-22 at Ridgecrest Conference Center. (Photo by Aaron Earls)

“Could it be that they were sending out signals or vibrations of unbelief in their words that were picked up in the spirit realm?” Williams, pastor of Wake Eden Community Baptist Church and the Bronx Baptist Church, asked on the conference opening night in his sermon on walking by faith. “Unbelief is a subtle thing. It’s like a contaminated element that spoils the quality of our faith.”

In another sermon, Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director Tommy Green ponders pastors’ attempts to lead with pure hearts and skillful hands, qualities attributed to David in Psalm 78:72.

“The struggles of a pastor and family are real. Spiritual warfare marks every day of your ministry,” Green said. “Spiritual warfare is imminent, not imaginary. And the battles are from outside the church, and they are from inside the church. Evil has a place, and evil has a face, and evil has a taste. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, and you have a bullseye on your life.”

But God knows what pastors are facing, Green said in exhorting pastors to trust in God, shake off the dust of discouragement and defeat, and rise up in the victory that comes in Jesus Christ.

“Heart and hands stretches every fiber of our being. Look unto Jesus. He is the author and finisher of our faith,” Green said in a poetic homage to Jesus’ hands. “Jesus moved with compassion of heart and hands. He had healing hands that touched blind eyes to see. He had healing hands that touched deaf ears to hear. He had healing hands that reached out to lame limbs to walk. He had healing hands that made the sick whole.

Tommy Green, executive director and treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, preached the July 19 evening sermon at the Black Church Leadership and Family Conference. (Photo by Aaron Earls)

“He had holy hands that calmed the sea. He had holy hands that raised the dead. He had holy hands that fed the multitudes. … He had humble hands that washed the feet of the disciples.”

In its 29th year, the BCLFC exposed attendees to a broad display of Southern Baptist life, presenting national, state and local leaders in daily schedules packed with preaching, worship, Bible study from the Lifeway YOU curriculum, fellowship, recreation and dozens of classes in leadership and personal edification.

The attendance of just over 400 was less than half the annual attendance before the COVID -19 pandemic, but conference convener Mark Croston said the numbers proved favorable.

“Our numbers were smaller than usually, but this provided for an even more powerful and personal experience. About one-third of the participants were first-timers,” said Croston, Lifeway Christian Resources’ national director of Black Church Ministries. “Many of our churches are only seeing about half of their members in live worship and some are still not open and that also impacts our numbers.”

Special activities engaged women, men, young adults, youth and children in activities targeting their interests and spiritual needs. Woman2Woman speakers were Archalena Coats, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, a Florida educator and wife of Covenant Baptist Church Pastor Patrick Coats; and Elizabeth Woodson, a Bible teacher and author from Dallas. Addressing men in Man2Man sessions were Ken Felix, senior pastor of Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, Fla., and JerQuentin Sutton, senior pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church in Westwood, N.J.