By Diana Chandler
NASHVILLE (BP) – Cross-cultural cooperation, communication and understanding within the Southern Baptist Convention are goals of the National African American Fellowship (NAAF) approaching the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting June 15-16 in Nashville, according to NAAF President Marshal Ausberry.
“One of the principles of NAAF is to encourage and maintain a spirit of fellowship and cooperation among the African American churches in the convention and to continue to help the SBC gain a better understanding of predominantly African American churches,” said Ausberry, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax Station, Va., and first vice president of the SBC, who added that NAAF will also “continue to encourage the predominantly African American churches to participate in the Cooperative Program and the other ministries of the SBC.”
NAAF, a fellowship of 3,700 predominantly African American Southern Baptist churches and missions, is gearing up for its annual business meeting and George Liele Missions banquet held in advance of the SBC Annual Meeting. NAAF is among several ethnically specific fellowships in the SBC, including various Asian, Hispanic and other groups.
“There are some various constituencies in the body of Christ as we all come together in cooperation, and yet there are some critical nuances in each group that need to be expressed and shared with SBC leadership, so that when they make decisions different voices are at the table,” Ausberry said. “And that’s very critical.”
NAAF will elect officers at its business meeting June 14 from 4-6 p.m. at the Music City Center in downtown Nashville. Nominated as officers are president, Frank Williams, senior pastor of Bronx Baptist Church and Wake Eden Community Baptist Church, both in New York; vice president, Bucas Sterling III, senior pastor of Kettering Baptist Church, Upper Marlboro, Md.; secretary, Kevin James, senior pastor of New Creation Bible Fellowship, Tracy, Calif.; and treasurer, John Rollins Sr., senior pastor of Simeon Baptist Church, Antioch, Tenn. The event will be livestreamed for NAAF members unable to attend.
Ausberry will be the featured speaker at the George Liele missions dinner at 6:30 p.m. June 14 in the Davidson Ballroom, Room C3, of the Music City Center. NAAF encourages prospective attendees to purchase advance tickets ($60 each, available at https://www.naaftogether.org/events).
“It’s been a tough couple of years for African American churches in the SBC,” Ausberry said. “We do see opportunities. One of the mainstays has been the great work in missions, in church planting, disaster relief. … We do feel that key SBC leaders have a heart to, and are working to, make the SBC a better place for all persons.”
Among positives Ausberry pointed out are an increased diversity on the SBC Executive Committee staff and a developing partnership between NAAF and the North American Mission Board to dispatch African American church planters to minority communities with little or no Southern Baptist presence. NAAF and NAMB are expected to announce specifics of the initiative this year.
Additionally, Ausberry said, NAAF is working with the International Mission Board to target recruitment of African American international missionaries.