Home Christian News Diversity, Opportunity To Contribute Spurred Ohio Church To Join SBC

Diversity, Opportunity To Contribute Spurred Ohio Church To Join SBC

Pastor Derek Williams courtesy of Baptist Press.

MANSFIELD, Ohio (BP) – Mount Calvary Baptist was like a lot of churches that were forced to lean on technology in the spring of 2020.

Staying connected due to the widespread suspension of in-person gatherings from COVID-19 presented a challenge. In order to bring in as many people as possible, Pastor Derek Williams opted to use a phone system for listeners to call in and hear worship services.

“For two years I would come down into the sanctuary by myself and preach from the pulpit with the phone on speaker,” he said.

Preaching to an empty room took some adjusting for many pastors during that time, but at least they had a camera on which to focus. During his sermons Williams had everywhere – yet nowhere – to look.

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So he prayed for faces he had never seen, much less known.

“I disciplined myself, based upon the visual of when Jesus went away by Himself to talk to the Lord,” Williams said. “I would visualize the church full of people who were not members at that time, but who would come and be changed by the Gospel, those we were to ministering to. The Spirit was showing me different types of people.”

Yes, he thought it a little strange too. Then a woman he’d never met approached him at a funeral.

“I recognized her as one of those faces and she recognized me from when I preached at other funerals in the city. Later she joined our church and I told her about my vision of her sitting in the sanctuary,” he said.

That woman has become an active church member. The story reflects Williams and Mount Calvary’s decision to become affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and a desire for deeper involvement.

Williams had wanted information on joining the SBC, but COVID disrupted that process. He reached back out earlier this year through the Buckeye Central Erie Baptist Association. That process finished shortly before the church celebrated its 104th birthday in March.

“First, I went to our board of deacons to tell them about my desire to bring us into affiliation [with the SBC],” he said. “We had some with questions, but they followed my leadership in that decision.”

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The credentialing process included a question to Williams – “What can Southern Baptists do for him?”

“I told them I wanted Southern Baptists to acknowledge me and use me,” he said. “Acknowledge me not as an African American pastor, but as a pastor. Don’t put me off in a corner and say, ‘You’re over here.’

“Once you acknowledge me, I’ll do everything I can to help the organization because I believe in the principles … and doctrine of Southern Baptists, the entirety of the Baptist Faith and Message because it’s part of our constitution.”

The church will remain dually aligned with the National Baptist Convention, through which Williams serves as a national instructor for education.