DULUTH — As African-American pastors and church leaders gathered at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s building for a time of fellowship and getting to know new Georgia Baptist Executive Director Thomas Hammond, they shared their hearts and what their churches, and themselves, need most from the Mission Board.
Overwhelmingly during the 5th annual African-American Day March 7, Hammond heard pastors share that the “win” for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board will be when what it is doing starts producing more conversions and baptisms. One way that will happen, one pastor offered, is through greater unity.
“When we become one body in reaching the lost, good things happen,” the pastor shared.
Hammond, agreeing, added, “I think about 3,600 churches and the amazing influence we would have on affecting lostness in our state if we were together – the momentum that would be created by all of us going in the same direction. We don’t have momentum because we’re all going in different directions.”
In the miniature listening session, Hammond asked the African-American pastors three questions. As the Mission Board moves toward a full restructuring, Hammond plans to learn from the information and suggestions he receives in these sessions how to better serve, equip, and encourage Georgia Baptist churches.
The three questions posed during African-American Day were: 1) What are the top three things pastors need from the Mission Board; 2) What are the top three things churches need from the Mission Board; and 3) What is the win for the Mission Board?
A variety of answers to question one regarding pastoral needs came in. One pastor shared that “in-service training” is desired. Others mentioned that “mentorship and training” were priorities. Many agreed that mental health evaluation and wholistic wellness for pastors needs to be a priority.
A topic that brought a joyful consensus was the need for someone to educate churches on the benefits of providing pastors a sabbatical. As the crowd conferred, many of their African-American churches are simply unaware of the need. And, they agreed with Hammond, it’s a subject best broached by an outsider.
The GBMB can help African-American churches directly by providing training – whether that be educating laity, making churches aware of the many resources available, or training them to be better disciple-makers, the pastors shared.
Attendees heard from various speakers throughout the afternoon, including Daphne Harris Nicely, who shared the vision and heart of the Atlanta Morning Center, Scott Smith as he introduced and explained the Big Invite, and Hammond as he unveiled the plans for the restructuring of the Mission Board for only the second time publicly.
Grady Caldwell, pastor of New Mercy Baptist Church in Griffin, was glad he attended African-American Day because it was “good to hear different perspectives at the Listening Session.” As he “heard of challenges of pastors in my area” it helped him to connect, he shared.
Index Editor Scott Barkley contributed to this article.