DECATUR — Dennis Mitchell, executive director of the National Association of African American Fellowship of the SBC, has agreed to partner with Georgia Baptists as a consultant.
The purpose for his involvement, Mitchell told The Index, is “to help African American churches more effectively engage in Georgia Baptist work and Georgia Baptist churches to have a greater appreciation of African-American churches.”
Mitchell, who served as pastor of Greenforest Community Baptist Church in Decatur from December 2007-August 2016, first became familiar with Georgia Baptist Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. from their days at the North American Mission Board.
“It was the [Home Mission Board] back then,” he said. “He was in evangelism and I was in church planting. When the HMB morphed into NAMB, Thomas became a senior director of evangelism and I became a senior director of church planting.”
Transitioning to executive director of the NAAF in 2017 brought Mitchell into a leadership role over some 4,000 Southern Baptist churches with majority African American memberships. Mitchell’s work with Georgia Baptists will be like one he currently has with NAMB as an “ambassador.”
“Kevin Ezell asked a number of African American pastors to help churches see the benefit and work that happens through the Cooperative Program,” Mitchell said. “We help build that connection.”
Mitchell sees his role in the current Georgia Baptist restructuring as “perfectly complementing” what he’s doing on the national level.
“I want to come alongside Georgia Baptist leadership and connect more effectively with black Southern Baptist churches in Georgia as well as help those churches become connected within the Georgia Baptist Convention. Looking at it, it’s amazing how God brought this all together.
“The end goal is to forge healthier, more productive, kingdom-focused partnerships between the SBC nationally, NAMB, and the GBC.”
Mitchell sees a new focus within the Georgia Baptist restructuring and regional concept as “a critical part of that objective” to provide more support to all churches, including African American ones. And to that point, he anticipates partnering with Anglo churches as well.
“I can’t tell you how frequently I come across Anglo pastors wanting to bring diversity to their congregations,” he said. “They want to learn how to engage with African American churches, make their staffs more inclusive. This isn’t just about African Americans, but for all of us to advance on this issue.
“I heard one brother say that up to this point we’ve had more monologue than dialogue. We have to commit to taking this journey together.”
Scott Barkley serves as editor of The Christian Index.