Fellowship, resource information highlight annual African American Day

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Minister Mary Johnson, center, and Missionary Betty Williams, right, discuss the benefits of the Woman’s Missionary Union ministry with State Missionary Tabitha Fewell, left. The guests were part of a large group representing Shiloh Baptist Church in Milledgeville. JOE WESTBURY/Index

DULUTH — It happens just once a year to welcome the early spring season. But it has become an annual event where African American pastors, their staff, and laity converge on Duluth for a day of fellowship and building relationships with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

African American Fellowship President Jean Ward, right, welcomes pastors and their guests to the annual event. Bobby Boswell, left, Mission Board assistant executive director, looks on as the chapel service begins. JOE WESTBURY/Index

For some of the nearly 90 registered guests it was their first opportunity to get to know state missionaries and the ministries they oversee. For others it was a refresher course to learn about new resources they can take back home and use to motivate their congregations with a stronger vision of Kingdom building.

Bobby Boswell, assistant executive director who coordinates the gathering, said African American Day serves as an opportunity for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board staff to become better acquainted with leaders and laity in the African American community.

And the guests – youth directors, Sunday School teachers and leaders, deacons, and others brought by their pastors – spoke highly of their first visit to the Ministry Center.

Matthew Little, pastor of Kingdom Builders Fellowship Church in College Park, said he was looking for information on church planting and evangelism, as well as how to reach the next generation.

Keith Easley, minister/trainer at Shiloh Baptist Church in Milledgeville, studies the Kingdom Generosity display at the Missions and Ministry Center. JOE WESTBURY/Index

“I was especially happy to learn about how we can do a better job of reaching our children and teens and keep them in church. I talk to so many parents who accept their children’s excuses of needing to stay home on Sunday morning to do homework.

“I guarantee that those parents will be in my office within five years, seeking counseling on how to deal with a child who has developed bad habits and questionable friendships along the way.”

Little acknowledged the competition from sports and other afterschool programs that are now scheduled on Sundays – especially travel to and from distant sports events and tournaments. “Parents just have it tough these days” was his general observation.

“We need to be intentional about seeing that our children – the next generation – are given a solid foundation for living their lives. It’s not going to happen on its own,” he added.

“To a degree, neglecting their spiritual nurturing is giving them an option on their salvation.”

Jean Ward, president of the African American Fellowship and pastor of East Atlanta Church, urged those in attendance to be sure to plan to attend two upcoming training, networking, and fellowship events at Georgia Baptist Conference Center at Toccoa.

The “I’m the Man” retreat is scheduled for June 15-16 and the “I’m the Woman” gathering will be held Nov. 2-3. Cost will be $99 for a double room and $109 for a single room. Programming information will be announced soon.

Steve Parr, vice president of staff coordination and development at the Mission Board, brought the morning message in the Louie D. Newton Chapel. The afternoon session saw Executive Director J. Robert White bringing the evangelism and missions charge to those in attendance.

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