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A Book Review by William Dwight Mckissic, Sr.

GOD’S AMAZING GRACE:  RECONCILING FOUR CENTURIES OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MARRIAGES AND FAMILIES

Author – PASTOR TERRY TURNER

A response to a question Blacks have been asked for years, is finally answered in this great book of epic insights by Terry Turner entitled, God’s Amazing Grace:  Reconciling Four Centuries of African American Marriages and Families. “Why don’t you just get over it,” is a question many non-Blacks often ask of African Americans, in regards to any civil rights matter. For most Blacks, the answer is not a simple reply because it is so complex. In this book, Turner does an excellent job of breaking down the issues in the Black community that have stifled growth and positive outcomes in their marriages and families. He even begins the book as an African American male addressing the question to his race, asking, “What is wrong with my people?” As I read the book, my mind began to categorize into four different sections that may be helpful to the reader. For me, the book can be broken down, to help answer these questions, into the foundation of the problems, fatherlessness being at the forefront of the issues, faith being a saving grace for what is to remain of the family structure, and remedies to build the future.

Looking at a newly constructed building, one may notice wooden planks holding a temporary structure in place that workers stand on while building the permanent edifice. These beams however, will not remain once the building is completed. They simply are put in place to help build the foundation until the building can stand on its own. This practice is called scaffolding. In African American families, scaffolding came in the form of people who did not have their best interest in mind. The Black family foundation is built on lies and deceit, and therefore is an imbalanced entity, comparably speaking. Turner addresses The Trickle Down Effect, Post-Traumatic Slavery Syndrome, mistreatment of prisoners and slaves and even sexual abuse as defects in the foundation of Black homes. His research is eye opening to its readers and will shed much light on the many many cracks in the foundation of the Black family structure.

Every child’s first hero usually lives in their house and sleeps with them each night. This idol protects them from harm, provides a place of stability and makes sure they never go to bed hungry. He can even be responsible for ensuring they are educated and a well-rounded member of society. They go by the endearing name, Daddy. A dad is born into a family as a son and is groomed to one day assume the position of the patriarch. In the Black family, this position is often left void. Whether the father has been killed at an early age, died of natural causes, or just chose not to be in the child’s life, absenteeism is a true problem that plagues the foundation of many Black homes. Turner even expresses his personal situation where his father lived in his home but was still absent emotionally and eventually physically due to medical issues. Some fathers live in the home but due to drug abuse, extra marital relationships, and other setbacks, they still do not engage with their children and wife in a positive manner. All of these hardships have made it difficult for Black families to thrive. Without being taught how to be a superhero, how exactly does one learn? Even Robin had Batman to show him the way. Often times, young boys grow up to be men raising families of their own, with not a single instruction from their Batman. The early example of masculine leadership in the Black families was slave masters beating, raping and deceiving families to follow instructions that were necessary for their survival. With this treacherous way of living as the introduction to fatherhood in the African American family, it comes as no surprise to people of color why their homes are unstable in comparison to their white counterparts.

As with any damage structure, hope remains that it can be restored. The African American family is no different. For centuries, it has been faith in Christ that has held the Black family together. This faith is well documented in how it helped slaves maintain their livelihood and even escape. This faith was an outlet to the troubles that continued into the civil rights movement. Many African American pastors have been at the forefront of social injustices, as Blacks use their faith as a pathway to freedom and rely on their spiritual advisors to lead them.

Moving through history and into the current century, marriages in the African American families have evolved and albeit a struggle, the integrity of marriage must be maintained to ensure strong families in the future. Imagine being stripped from a husband and kids and being forced into adultery, fornication and even incestuous relationships against your will. This was the plight of most African American women in slavery. While not even classified as a human, these women were defenseless and unable to protect themselves. Turner points out that contrary to the scriptures they were taught on sexual immorality, they were not given the chance to abstain. For these reasons, families were completely mutilated and scattered. Presently, some of these ill effects still haunt Black families. Sexual sins are not always viewed as such, because for years, under the law, incontinence, fornication, adultery, bigamy and other sexual crimes, were not considered as such for slaves and Blacks. Fast forward to 2018, many of these acts still exist and are rampant in Black homes. Now that marriages are legal and laws are in place to protect the sanctity of marriage, Blacks must take advantage of the opportunity and stop destroying their families due to sexual misconduct.

By God’s Amazing Grace, there is hope for the Black family in America. With excuses that can run four centuries long, it is imperative that African Americans rid their families of these cracks in their foundation. “Just get over it! What is wrong with my people? What is wrong with me?” The answer: Nothing. Our past has been reconciled and by His Grace, our families will be healed.

Terry Turner has done an excellent with this awesome work, “God’s Amazing Grace:  Reconciling Four Centuries of African American Marriages and Families.” The content of his message is relatable to the needs of the African American Community concerning the issues we face today. This book about God’s Amazing Grace engages and equips all people concerning African American families and history. Terry Turner is a compelling and persuasive teacher/preacher. I endorse and highly recommend “God’s Amazing Grace:  Reconciling Four Centuries of African American Marriages and Families.” It is a really great read! I believe you will be blessed, encouraged and greatly benefited by reading Turner’s book.

 

William Dwight McKissic, Sr.
Pastor, Cornerstone Church, Arlington, TX

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VOTING GREEAR, COULD AS EASILY VOTE HEMPHILL, TEMPTED TO NOMINATE BETH MOORE, FOR SBC PRESIDENCY

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

When Trayvon Martin was shot and killed because he simply looked “suspicious,” initiated by the fact that Zimmerman viewed him as “suspicious” and chose to pursue him against the order of the police department, it was a personal, powerful, picturesque and emotional moment for me to hear Dr. Fred Luter address this matter as President of the SBC. I never thought I would live long enough to hear a SBC President redemptively, righteously and prophetically address a matter when a young Black man was needlessly shot because the idea was stimulated by unfounded suspicion and his killer not following a police order.

If a Hispanic person was addressing immigration issues while serving as President of the SBC, it would likely have a radically different tone and project the SBC as compassionate on the immigration question.

Imagine for a moment with me, what if the person serving as SBC President at this hour was a competent, accomplished, biblically sound, orthodox female who could address the multitude of questions and issues the SBC is facing regarding women issues? The criticism and skepticism would be less dramatic if the SBC historically had demonstrated confidence and belief in the gifts and value of SBC women serving at all levels of leadership in SBC institutional life within the boundaries of the Bible.

To say this is a critical hour in the life of the SBC is an understatement. The presidency of the SBC is by design weighted more toward symbolism than governing. There is no budget, personnel, office space, and extremely limited authority that are presumptive or inherent in occupying the office of President of the SBC. Yes, the SBC President appoints the committee on committees that appoints all of the SBC committees. Yes, the SBC President presides over the Annual SBC gathering. Yes, the SBC President serves as an ex-officio trustee of all SBC entities. Yes, the SBC President serves on the committee on order of business. Yes, the SBC President serves as an official representative of the SBC to the public at large and as a representative to other parachurch or denominational gatherings. Beyond those aforementioned responsibilities, the SBC presidency has no decision-making authority. Again, the SBC presidency is largely symbolic, not authoritative. Therefore, a woman would not be usurping authority over a man by serving as SBC President.

The SBC is an entity head and trustee-driven governmental system. The SBC President is not an entity head or voting trustee of any of the entities. The President of the Executive Committee of the SBC, which is a job currently vacant and most recently held by Frank Page, has oversight of a colossal budget and staff and is appointed by the EC Trustee Board. That position, totally distinct from The Office of the President of the SBC, inherently has much more authority than the elective office of the President of the SBC. Clearly, the SBC President has a large “bully pulpit,” if they choose to use it; and a great deal of influence, but very limited constitutional authority. In NBC life the role of the EC and President of the NBC are synonymous. In the SBC, this is not so. My reason for explaining the above is because I have observed that there is widespread ignorance in SBC life regarding the role and authority of the President of the SBC, succinctly stated; The President of the SBC is not a position of inherent authority, but usually widespread name recognition and influence, based on ministry history and convention support.

I’ve never met or communicated with J.C. Greear in any context, to the best of my recollection. His ministry reputation is impeccable. His record on race is impressive. Greear’s noble act, in standing down, so that unity and the election of Steve Gaines would stand up, was so impressive to me that made up my mind then that I was going to vote for him in ’20, regardless to who his opposition might be. I tweeted my support for Greear before Dr. Ken Hemphill announced his candidacy for the presidency. I remain true to my commitment to vote for Greear.

However, Ken Hemphill is a man that I know personally. Hemphill is a man that I deeply love and respect. If he had announced first, I would have been not only supportive of his candidacy, I would have voted for him, based on my personal history with him. As many have noted, we will be in good hands as a convention with either Greear or Hemphill.

My appreciation for Hemphill lies in the fact that he was an incredible President at SWBTS. He was and is deeply loved, respected and appreciated by Black seminarians, because he was kind and fair toward us. SWBTS National Black Alumni held a once in a lifetime reunion during Hemphill’s tenure at SWBTS and honored him. A portion of that two-day reunion was held at Cornerstone Church, Arlington, where I serve as pastor. Hemphill’s record concerning women is also impeccable. Black female seminarians loved Hemphill. They were allowed to take preaching classes with males, without any professor speaking despairingly toward them. Dr. Hemphill was pressured to resign at SWBTS, because of his favorable disposition toward women in ministry. Dr. Karen Bullock taught church history during Dr. Hemphill’s tenure and preached in chapel at SWBTS. Allowing her to preach infuriated certain SWBTS trustees; and that led to his untimely departure. Sheri Klouda was hired by Dr. Hemphill to teach Hebrew, approved by the trustees. She was later fired by the same inerrantist, conservative trustees for being a woman teaching men. Her gender had to be observable when they hired her. Later, her hiring was labeled “a momentary lapse in parameters.”

Dr. Hemphill was exemplary and biblical in how he affirmed, valued and elevated women in SBC life within biblical parameters. Hemphill is a continuationist and has documented that in his book on spiritual gifts. When many were criticizing a chapel sermon, that affirmed continuationist that I preached in 2006, Hemphill released a statement to the Baptist Press affirming continuationism. He could have chosen silence. There was nothing for him to gain by affirming continuationism in the context of my chapel sermon, but he did. Much respect for Ken Hemphill. Honestly, I feel disloyal to our history, by not voting for him. Furthermore, during his tenure and Dilday’s tenure, I probably preached chapel ten times at SWBTS. Chapel preaching invitations from SWBTS ceased after my 2006 sermon affirming continuationism. I have continued to support SWBTS with generous annual contributions and funding SWBTS with tuition assistance for students who attend Cornerstone, Arlington.

Many Black female seminarians confided in me that there was an atmospheric change on campus and mainly in classrooms, after the departure of Dr. Hemphill, which in part may also explain the drop in enrollment after he left.

The two greatest institutional systemic sins that the SBC has practiced throughout her history are racism and sexism. Those twofold demons seem to inevitably and periodically raise their ugly heads in SBC life. The SBC system produced and covered the racism and sexism. This cannot be laid at the feet of any one person. None of what’s being questioned and voted as unacceptable today, would not have even been questioned in the ‘70’s, ‘80’s, ‘90’s and even 2000. The initial info that caused the recent uproar was widely publicly known in 2000, and it was met with a yawn. What have changed are the SBC people, who are no longer willing to tolerate certain behaviors as they once did. The SBC sin of sexism was passed down generationally and is only now being seriously challenged. To deny a woman from serving as a SBC president or vice president is purely sexist from my vantage point. But if this is the SBC’s position, it needs to be stipulated in the bylaws/constitution. It is fundamentally dishonest and a colossal integrity issue, to know for certain that the SBC would not elect a woman president or allow a woman to serve as a vice president of an entity, but yet not put this practice/belief in writing. We owe it to women to be honest with them regarding their mobility and potential in SBC institutional life.

If I thought Beth Moore would accept the nomination or be agreeable to being nominated, because of her qualifications and the current context the SBC finds herself in…I would nominate her for SBC President.

The SBC is a parachurch organization—not a church. Therefore, there is absolutely not one Bible verse, or SBC constitutional bylaws prohibitions, nor any BF&M 2000 prohibitions against a woman serving as SBC President. Tradition, sexism, fear and other non-biblical factors would probably prevent any woman, including Deborah, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Lydia, Junia or Priscilla, or Lottie Moon from being elected President of the SBC; but, I repeat…there is not one Bible verse or SBC constitutional prohibition.

Therefore, I could vote for a qualified woman with a clear conscience for President of the SBC. The I Timothy 2:12 passage is reference to local church leadership, not parachurch leadership. The statement on gender roles in the BF&M 2000 does not prohibit female leadership in the SBC Convention or entity life. To impose I Timothy 2:12 as a prohibition on a female SBC President would be tantamount to imposing Genesis 9:25-27, as a prohibition for a Black, Asian, or Hispanic SBC President. Neither Scripture is addressing prohibitions in parachurch offices. Historically, though, they have been used or misused to draw such erroneous conclusions.

I Timothy 2:12 is the verse that erroneously cost Karen Bullock and Sheri Klouda, their jobs at SWBTS. In 2010, I submitted a resolution that was denied that appealed to the SBC to repent for their attitude, actions and disposition toward women. Women have been denied VP roles in SBC entities because of I Timothy 2:12; that’s sinful and shameful, God’s judgment has come upon us, “shall we continue in sin?” Had the SBC repented of her proclivity toward sexism in 2010, we may not be facing our current crisis.

To elect Beth Moore would do more to heal our Convention, seal women within our convention who have lost hope and right historic patterns of wrong toward women, without compromising qualifications, integrity, competency, or Scripture. The questions are, “Are we there yet?” or do we have to wait 100 more years and experience more of God’s judgment? SEBTS recently elected a woman as chairman of their Trustee Board. Progress is being made. Serving as an ex-officio officer of SBC entity trustee boards is one of the duties of an SBC president. By already permitting women trustees and a woman chairperson, the precedence is already set.

I believe The Sovereign God of the Universe is responsible for the current happenings in the SBC. God wants the SBC to set her house in order—racially and gender wise. He is cleaning the SBC house, so that He can bless the SBC house with a mighty manifestation of His presence to equip, empower, and enlighten His people to be His salt and light on earth. We are experiencing a purging, that is a necessary prerequisite for the empowerment of His people.

The purpose of this article is simply to stimulate our thinking, so that we will begin to ponder how to empower and value the gifts of SBC women within the boundaries of Scripture, rather than majoring in how we can restrict them. Could it be that what was intended toward women as evil in the SBC, God will now turn it around and use it for good (Genesis 50:20)? There are too many cases of women prophesying to men, in Scripture, publicly to hide behind I Timothy 2:12 as an excuse to not elect a woman as president or vice president of our Convention.

RESOLUTION “ON RACIAL UNITY AMONG SOUTHERN BAPTISTS”

WHEREAS, the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention, William B. Johnson indicated in his inaugural address that Southern Baptists were “free to promote slavery” arguing that slavery was a legal and civil matter, not a church matter; and

WHEREAS, many Southern Baptist churches once misappropriated and distorted the Bible to attempt to legitimize white supremacy, slavery, and racial hierarchy, including through the so-called “curse of Ham” narrative which errantly construed Genesis 9:25-27 to say that God ordained the descendants of Ham to be marked with dark skin and be relegated to a subordinated status based on race; and

WHEREAS, the residue of this doctrine remains in use today by white supremacists and continues to distort the witness of the church and present a stumbling block to the Gospel we preach; and

WHEREAS, racial tensions in our churches and our nation would be significantly better if Southern Baptists, instead, had rightly applied the second great commandment, “You shall love our neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39); and

WHEREAS, while Southern Baptists have repented (1995) and have elected their first African-American SBC president (2012), and have begun implementation of action steps from the 2015 report of the African American Task Force, there is still a need for more action; and

WHEREAS, our associations have rightly disfellowshipped churches that insist on excluding from fellowship anyone on the basis of race or ethnicity; and

WHEREAS, the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968 affords our nation, and our churches, with an opportunity for reflection, repentance, and renewed resolve toward racial unity; and

WHEREAS, we are called by Christ to “live worthy of the calling [we] have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3); now be it therefore

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 12-14, 2018, renew our commitment to the pursuit of reconciliation, justice, and unity in our churches and our communities; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we maintain and renew our public renunciation of racism in all its forms, including our disavowal of any attempt to distort or misappropriate the Bible to justify this evil; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we confess before the watching world that ultimately it is only through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ that our ethnic and racial hostilities can be overcome; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we declare our abhorrence of any cooperating SBC church that tolerates or advocates racism; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on our civic leaders to uphold justice for all and to pursue legal avenues to strengthen our national commitment to justice and equality for all; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we renew our commitment to proclaim boldly the gospel of Jesus Christ to people from every tribe, tongue, and nation regardless of race, ethnicity or genealogical descent (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8) for the good of the church and the glory of God; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we invite all Southern Baptists to dedicate themselves to prayer, both as individuals and as local churches, in a spirit of humility and love, pleading with the Lord to display his power and glory by making us more faithful ambassadors of reconciliation for “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133:1).

This Resolution “On Racial Unity Among Southern Baptists” will be submitted to the SBC Resolution Committee to be considered for the June 2018 Convention in Dallas, TX, by:

  1. Danny Akin, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, 3328 Forestville Rd. Raleigh, North Carolina 27616
  2. Cameron Triggs, Grace Alive Church, 870 N. Hastings, Orlando, Florida 32808
  3. Mike Turner, Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, 253 Oconee Station Rd., Walhalla, South Carolina 29691
  4. Dwight McKissic, Cornerstone Baptist Church, 5415 Matlock Rd., Arlington, Texas 76018

HARBORING CONFLICTING EMOTIONS REGARDING PAIGE PATTERSON’S COUNSEL ON SPOUSAL ABUSE AND THE RESULTING IMPLICATIONS

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

The most loved and loathed personality in SBC history is, without a doubt, Dr. Paige Patterson, current President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX. Dr. Patterson remains a figure held in the highest esteem by many SBC pastors, who find no fault with his controversial and now well-known remarks, spoken on the subject of spousal abuse in 2000 at The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Patterson is loathed by many in the SBC, not only for the spousal abuse comments, but for many miscues, missteps, mistakes and positions taken, that many find unacceptable. [Wade Burleson’s link, Ed Stetzer, Jonathan Merritt, SBC Voices…you can read about some of those issues.]

Southern Baptists of all stripes are beginning to weigh in on the Patterson controversy. Alabama Pastor, Rick Patrick, has come out strongly in support of Patterson. Oklahoma Pastor, Wade Burleson, is calling for Dr. Patterson’s resignation…voluntary or forced. Tom Rainer, President of Lifeway, the book-selling arm of the SBC, took a strong stand supporting women victims of spousal abuse, without criticizing Dr. Patterson.

In SBC culture, for an entity head to weigh in on a public controversy involving a SBC entity head, with a statement widely interpreted as flowing counter current to supporting Patterson, is unprecedented. It was extremely bold within the SBC context, but correct of Thomas Rainer to make a statement. On his heels, Danny Akin, President of SEBTS, weighed in similar to Rainer; and Russell Moore affirmed Rainer’s comments publicly. Clearly, these statements are designed to clarify the SBC’s and their entities’ position regarding spousal abuse, as opposed to a retort or rebuke to Patterson; yet in SBC culture, anything short of, “I support Dr. Patterson,” is interpreted as, “I’m against Dr. Patterson,” particularly with regard to this issue. These outstanding entity heads should not be viewed in a negative light for supporting women victims of spousal abuse and protecting their entities and the SBC Brand. I applaud and appreciate these men.

I consider myself an independent, free-thinking, theologically orthodox, Kingdom-focused and driven African American Southern Baptist. My viewpoints usually are not totally in alignment with SBC mainstream establishment; neither do my views usually align with SBC moderates or liberals. The late great National Baptist Preacher, Dr. C.A.W. Clark stated, “John the Baptist was too early to have been a New Testament Apostle and was too late to have been an Old Testament Prophet.” I was too young and too fundamental to have been a part of the moderate-liberal arm of the SBC. I was too independent and too knowledgeable of SBC racial history to be a full card-carrying member of the conservative resurgence. Therefore, like John the Baptist, I just became a voice, often a lone voice in the SBC wilderness, able to speak truth and love and receive truth and love on both sides of the SBC political/theological spectrum.

That brings me back to the subject matter: “My conflicting emotions regarding Dr. Patterson’s spousal abuse counsel/crisis” and its implications. Remember, I told you that I am an independent voice, beholding to no one and not posturing for anything. I am free, a rare breed in the SBC; but I will have it no other way. Speaking “truth to power” is an inherent part of my National Baptist Faith tradition.

  1. I do not support the notion that Paige Patterson is disqualified to preach the Annual Convention sermon at the SBC Annual Convention this June in Dallas. Everyone needs to pause and take a long breath, before we rush to the verdict that his remarks (as problematic and unpopular as they were/are) should disqualify Dr. Patterson from preaching the annual sermon.

Which one of us, who’ve been preaching any length of time, could be subject to someone pulling a tape/video from the archives of something we’ve said many years ago; but we would not say the same thing today, or certainly, not in the exact same way. Yet, if brought to public light today, it would create for us a similar PR crisis?

Again, that’s not to excuse, or agree with, what Dr. Patterson unwisely spoke (in my judgment); it’s to say, “The punishment is much greater than the crime.” Let the SWBTS Trustees rebuke Dr. Patterson for his remarks, if they must. Let the SBC in session adopt a strong statement making it crystal clear that we do not support spousal abuse of at any level of gradations—Period—if we must. But to punish and embarrass him on the Convention floor, a venerated figure like Dr. Patterson, by denying him a well-earned slot of being the Annual Convention preacher in the sunset of his life and ministry, is simply overkill. Separate the punishment from the sermon.

2. My feelings are conflicted because I certainly understand the opposing viewpoint and find merit obviously, in many of their arguments. My hunch is Paige Patterson would agree with the immediate previous sentence. Those who are calling for Patterson’s resignation and him stepping down from preaching are driven by pure motives, in my opinion. They believe that to speak a word of support and compassion for victims of spousal abuse is more important than being silent; and by silence give consent, to one who has spoken in such a way that can be reasonably interpreted as inappropriately addressing the subject and speaking non-representative of SBC views in doing so. I get that!

Please consider for a moment though, what if the Hebrew writer excluded Moses from the Hall of Faith because he murdered an Egyptian? What if David was removed because of his adulterous affair? What if Rahab had been removed because of her harlotry history? What if Abraham had been removed because of his lying? You get the picture. We should not remove Patterson from the honor of preaching what could very well be his last SBC Convention sermon, because of a series of poor word choices, in an ill though out attempt, to rightly communicate a biblical truth-opposing divorce. The SBC has not removed memorabilia of Boyce and Broadus, from their walls—slave-holders/Confederates. Yet, we are going to remove Paige Patterson from preaching the Annual Sermon, because of an isolated incident of unwise counsel.

3. I believe Dr. Patterson’s retirement schedule should in no wise, be impacted by the 2000 poorly worded sermon or a Q&A dialogue. Again, we need to be careful about the precedent we are setting here; others may fall victim as well.

There is a colloquialism often sang and expressed in the Black church that says, “If you set one trap, you may be setting two; because, the trap you set for others, may also be for you.”

4. Finally, it is no secret that Dr. Patterson and I have had our share of disagreements. Yes, I appreciate the fact that in 2002 or 2003, Dr. Patterson invited me to preach in Chapel at SEBTS, largely because he appreciated my uncompromising convictions, standing for the inerrancy of Scripture.

I appreciate the fact that Dr. Patterson offered me two or three opportunities to preach in Chapel, upon assuming the presidency of SWBTS in 2004.

I appreciate the fact that Dr. Patterson has responded favorably during those few times I’ve asked for his assistance in being a blessing to others.

Dr. Patterson hired a personal friend and my college roommate for a semester as an adjunct professor, in part, because of my request.

Dr. Patterson housed a student assigned to the Dallas area one summer, who was enrolled full-time in a Black seminary in Virginia, in part, because of my request.

Dr. Patterson, on a snowy day in February, three-four years ago, when school was closed because of the weather, Dr. Patterson entertained (in his house) the only Black professor in the world (I’m told) with a PhD from the University of Manchester whose study focused on The Dead Sea Scrolls. He later provided a guide to tour Dr. Hopkins through the exhibit on display at the time. I found their technical conversation about the Dead Sea Scrolls fascinating, although I understood very little of what was being said.

I even asked Dr. Patterson to host a group at SWBTS that he had major theological disagreements with. He reluctantly agreed to do it, but I received a good Baptist chewing-out for forcing his hand. The group later decided not to accept the offer. I was disappointed.

I now have a request in for the Seminary to house an MDiv student from Princeton Theological Seminary who wants to intern with me this summer.

Dr. Patterson awarded Eugene Florence at the age of 100 a Master of Divinity Degree. Although he had completed the coursework in 1951, because of segregation he was not awarded the degree. Patterson corrected a historic wrong by giving him the M.Div. degree, and he also named scholarships in Eugene Florence’s honor.

For all of those reasons and more, I genuinely value and appreciate Paige Patterson. I really hate to see him experience this kind of end of career pain.

Dr. Patterson and I had a major public disagreement about my last Chapel message in 2006, where he objected to my affirming the biblical validity of praying in tongues in private (I Corinthians 14:2) and challenging the IMB Trustees to rethink their position. In 2015 the IMB adopted a position identical to what my sermon called for, and that is freedom of worship in private, regarding prayers. Therefore, I will soon ask Dr. Patterson and the SWBTS Board, to remove the censorship from my sermon, based on their stated reasons for removing—“criticizing an SBC entity”; and now, that entity is agreeing with me. However, if Dr. Patterson doesn’t remove the censorship, after I present my case and protest to the fullest extent, so be it. I want to hear him preach this Annual sermon and follow whatever timetable he and the Trustees have set for his retirement, regardless to what’s ultimately decided about removing the censure from my 2006 chapel sermon.

I’ve always disagreed with Dr. Patterson’s position on a female teaching the Hebrew alphabet at SWBTS. I find that position totally unbiblical, unnecessarily alienating; and the thinking behind it played into the unwise 2000 remarks that have gotten him on the hot seat now.

Nevertheless, none of this is new. It is sort of baffling to me that the SBC would wait until now to punish a man for a “crime” committed in 2000. Everyone needs to put their guns back in the holster, or “slow your roll” as the old folk used to say, “Calm down!” “Chill out!” “Come now let us reason together says the Lord!” Time out! Pause this “run Patterson out of town train” leaving him with a legacy of shame and pain.

There is a way to resolve this without the leader of the conservative resurgence leaving town under a cloud of suspicion and rejection. The SBC can hold Dr. Patterson accountable for the inappropriate remarks; make crystal clear our position on spousal abuse, and at the same time, give honor to whom honor is due—Dr. Paige Patterson.

I’m as conflicted as many are. But inasmuch as his sin was misjudgment of words as opposed to deeds; can we err on the side of grace and allow Dr. Patterson to leave the SBC platform with his dignity and legacy intact? Would you want your dignity and legacy stripped from you because of poor word choices, on a given day. Selah. Pause. Think about it.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” ought to be the guiding principle here. Selah.

In conclusion, I was called to pastor a church at 21 years of age in 1977 in Pine Bluff, AR. One Sunday evening after worship service, I was approached by a young adult parishioner who asked for a counseling session with me. I said yes, and invited her into my office. She laid out the following scenario: She was in an abusive marriage with a financially irresponsible husband. She was working two full-time jobs and at times a third part-time job just to make ends meet. She already had six children at home who were forced to manage themselves most of the time since she had to work day and night. She was pregnant again and asked me if she should get an abortion. At that time, abortion was not a political or theological “hot button” issue in 1977 as it became a few short months and years thereafter.

I personally had not formed a strong opinion or conclusion about abortion in 1977 and 1978. I had no reason to form one. Abortion was not discussed in homes, churches, or schools/colleges/seminaries in ’77-78. Therefore, I counseled her based on situational ethics. After listening to her situation, I was sure the last thing she needed was another baby. I advised her if an abortion was what she wanted, then go ahead; and she did. Several months later, an abortion battle emerged in Arkansas Legislature. I was reading about it and noticed my Pastor’s comments regarding how life begins at conception based on Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 139:13-14. I thought to myself, “Oh, My God, I gave the young lady very unwise and unbiblical counsel.”

I had never heard my Pastor or any one teach that lesson until I read his remarks in the newspaper. So I gave this young lady some horrible advice.

If I had been asked that question in a panel setting, I would have given the same answer. That counseling session took place 40 years ago. I have confessed publicly and privately my unwise, unscriptural advice, and asked God for forgiveness. My horrible counsel is one among several reasons, Paul advised New Testament churches, not to call a novice as pastor.

My point is: What if my speaking engagements (at least nine scheduled as of today) or the several awards that I have recently received (including a Distinguished Alumni award that I will be receiving at Ouachita Baptist University in September) were revoked because of wrong advice that I gave 40 years ago? This is why I am sympathetic toward Dr. Patterson and his plight. To retroactively punish Dr. Patterson for remarks he inarticulately and wrongly made years ago is unfair in my judgment and not a way to treat a modern day patriarchal figure in SBC modern history. Selah. Pause. Think about it!

THE LOOMING CIVIL WAR IN THE SBC?

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

A Response to Lorine Spratt and Others

The recent MLK50 Celebration in Memphis was a phenomenal success: Almost 4000 in attendance; over a million have listened online; 25% of the live audience were minorities, predominately African American; incredibly powerful, persuasive prophetic, biblical and redemptive preaching, teaching, panel discussions, fellowship and networking across racial lines. The most diverse gathering in my 40 years of observing SBC Life, with approximately 1000 Blacks in attendance. The Annual Convention of the SBC has nowhere near that kind of Black attendance. Obviously, with a million listeners online, it has generated major positive word of mouth publicity, and print journalism publicity for the SBC. A generation of younger Black pastors, who had written the SBC off, is now giving her a second look because of the quality, content and inclusiveness of the MLK50 Celebration.

This event was appreciated and viewed as educational, edifying, inspirational, therapeutic and sparked hope for a “brighter day ahead” on the racial front in the SBC and our nation. Job well done, Dr. Russell Moore, Southern Baptist Convention and the ERLC!

Yet, there is an underbelly, subterranean, disagreeable, element in SBC life that view the MLK50 as “race baiting,” “cultural Marxism” advocacy; and a “social justice warriors” convocation. Of course, this element views “social justice” and “social Justice warriors” (their terms not mine) as a pejorative, although the Bible addresses justice, repetitively and affirmatively.

 Sister Lorine Spratt has emerged, post MLK50, as a spokesperson and face of a subterranean SBC minority, who opposes the MLK50, its message; and strongly oppose Dr. Russell Moore—to the extent, that they want him fired. Rumor has it, that they will make an appeal to the SBC in June in Dallas, to express their dissatisfaction with Dr. Moore, on the floor of the Convention, with the view of influencing the ERLC Board to relieve Dr. Moore of his employment.

Russell Moore’s crime? Bringing the SBC together in an unprecedented fashion, to bring racial healing, hope and understanding to the SBC and the Nation. For this, they label Dr. Moore, “divisive.” GO FIGURE!!!

It is quite strategic and most unusual to have as a spokesperson for the subterranean group, Sister Lorine Spratt. She describes herself thusly:

“I am a born-again Christian, Conservative, Black attender of a White, Southern Baptist, Evangelical Church in Louisiana. In fact, I not only attend, I also work there and I am very concerned about the narrative that I’m hearing from our ERLC leadership. I am absolutely appalled by the comments perpetuated by Dr. Russell Moore concerning racism within the White Evangelical churches.”

Her twitter feed, identifies her as a loyal voter with the conservative, Republican, voting bloc. A popular SBC-related Blog (not sanctioned by the SBC) has affirmed Sister Pratt and her statement of opposition toward Russell Moore.

Systemically, culturally and historically, the SBC has not placed a high premium on the voices of women. That is the reason it is most unusual for Sister Spratt to emerge as the de facto leader, spokesperson of the MLK50, Russell Moore opposition. I respect her right to be a spokesperson. I support and celebrate her right to challenge Russell Moore and the MLK50. I am excited to discover, within certain context, the SBC will embrace a woman spokesperson, to address an issue not directly pertaining to women issues. I love the precedent being set here, irrespective of motive.

Sister Spratt offers the following objections to Dr. Moore:

“White churches are not advocating racism but Dr. Moore is. He is fueling racial tensions. I view his comments as divisive and antagonistic. His words do not promote unity!”

Interestingly, Sister Spratt does not offer one quote or one example of Dr. Moore advocating “racism.” Sister Spratt provides absolutely zero evidence that Dr. Moore’s comments are “divisive,” “antagonizing” and “do not promote unity!” I regret for her sake, her opinion does not equate to facts. Although, again, I support and celebrate her right and celebrate the subterranean group for affirming a woman and a Black woman in her role. I see this as progress, for which I am thankful.

Sister Spratt further accuses Moore of “wreak[ing] verbal havoc in our churches and assists in causing unrest in our society and it is even sadder if we continue to let him do so.” Again, Sister Spratt provides no documentation for these unfounded and untrue allegations. She tips her hat toward the SBC forcing Dr. Moore out of office.

Sister Spratt does provide a link to quotes of Dr. Moore, cautioning Southern Baptists to weigh the ethics of candidates having a presidential election. She reveals her angst with Dr. Moore for challenging the ethics of presidential candidate Donald Trump. Dr. Moore also cautioned the SBC about supporting Hillary Clinton for ethical reasons. He voted for neither candidate. Sister Spratt expressed her vehement opposition to Dr. Moore for addressing candidate Donald Trump.

“During the presidential election, he did the same and I am totally against anyone, especially a leader in our SBC, who sows discord among the brethren.”

She concludes by saying, “This matter deeply concern and disturbs me!”

It is hard to place a percentage number on the number of SBC congregants that share Sister Spratt’s perspective. But I assure you, the vast majority of Southern Baptists of all colors in the pew support Dr. Moore, I would go as far to say Dr. Moore is an iconic figure to many Black SBC pastors. Only, the late Dr. T.B. Matson, Ethics Professor at SWBTS, belongs in the same sentence with Dr. Moore relative to positively moving forward in bringing unity to the races. The large Black attendance at MLK50 is evidence of Black SBC persons’ appreciation and affirmation of Russell Moore.

If there is an effort to embarrass or remove Russell Moore, it will ignite a Civil War in SBC life.

The Spratt faction of the SBC and the Russell Moore faction hold irreconcilable positions relative to addressing racial matters. But my prayer is that we will come together under the cross and learn to live together in harmony, in spite of our differences. I am willing to live with the Spratt faction, without asking her to change. I pray that she will be willing to live with the Moore faction, without asking him/us to change. If so, we can avoid a Civil War. If the Spratt faction and Moore faction do not heal and come together, as MLK said, “We will perish together as fools.”

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND DESTINY WILL MEET APRIL 3-4, 2018, AT THE SBC ERLC KING CELEBRATION

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

If Dr. King were alive, he would be utterly amazed that The Southern Baptist Convention, this year will be hosting a party in his honor in Memphis, Tennessee. When he penned “The Letter from The Birmingham Jail,” King had his “Christian and Jewish brothers” in mind, including Southern Baptists, when he wrote the following words in April 1963:

“While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling our present activities ‘unwise and untimely.’”

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.’”

The Clergyman in Birmingham also referred to King as an “outside agitator.”

In April 1961, Martin Luther King, Jr., was gaining national fame and spoke in Chapel at the flagship theological seminary, among The Southern Baptists’ six seminaries, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. As historian, Taylor Branch, wrote in his biography of King, concerning the response of powerful Southern Baptists who opposed Martin Luther King’s visit and Southern Seminary’s invitation to Martin Luther King:

“Within the church [SBC], this simple invitation was racial and theological heresy, such that churches across the South rescinded their regular donations to the seminary.”

During his lifetime, Dr. King experienced criticism, rejection and at best, “lukewarm acceptance” from the Southern Baptist Convention.

Fast forward to today. Over 3500, primarily Southern Baptists have registered in Memphis in 2018 to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King, who was assassinated by an Anglo son of the South on April 4, 1968. What a difference 50 years make! The SBC attitude toward King has gone through a metamorphosis over the past 50 years, as the entire Convention has made substantial and measurable progress on the racial front.

In 50 years, the SBC has moved from castigating to celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. In 50 years, the SBC has moved from denying Blacks seats at the table of leadership, to electing Fred Luter as the first African American President of the SBC in 2012 and H.B. Charles as President of the Pastors Conference in 2017. In 50 years, the SBC has moved from viewing Blacks almost exclusively as a mission’s project, to engaging Blacks as mission partners and co-laborers. In 50 years, the SBC has moved from opposing the Civil Rights movement to passing resolutions overwhelmingly in favor of denouncing the Confederate Flag and the Alt-Right. Within 60 years, the SBC has moved from non-admittance of Blacks in Southern Baptist Seminaries, to appointing Walter Strickland as Vice President of Kingdom Diversity and Professor of Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Within 50 years the SBC has shifted from the highest ranking Black in the SBC Executive Building headquarters being the “head custodian” to, Ken Weathersby, serving as a Vice President of the Executive Committee. The SBC passed a resolution acknowledging the historic election of President Barack Obama in 2009. Dr. Russell Moore, Dr. Frank Page, Dr. Danny Akin, Dr. Fred Luter, Dr. Steve Gaines, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Dr. James Merritt and a host of others, have worked diligently to move the ball down the road in advancing God’s Kingdom Agenda for racial inclusion and empowerment in the SBC. Yet, there is a vocal minority in the SBC that has registered opposition to the 50 Years King Celebration, as did their forbearers, 50 years ago, perhaps for different reasons though.

The SBC ERLC has spoken out against police brutality and in favor of comprehensive immigration reform under the prophetic and transformative leadership of Dr. Russell Moore. Never would this kind of prophetic advocacy occur during King’s lifetime. The SBC has by word, deed and repentance, earned the right to legitimately celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.

The largest racial hurdle the SBC has yet to overcome is the exclusion of Blacks and other minorities serving as an entity head. Entity Heads also constitute the Great Commission Council of the SBC. How can you have a Great Commission Council that reflects only one ethnicity within the Convention? Currently, with two entity head positions vacant, the all-White Great Commission Council should soon change, in the spirit of Martin Luther King’s dream.

Doctrinal and moral concerns are the two most common objections raised regarding reasons to suggest that the SBC ERLC not honor and celebrate the 50th year death of Dr. King.

Many have called attention to some writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recorded in his dissertation for his PH.D. work at Boston University that reflects liberal theological leanings.

Admittedly, Martin Luther King casts dubious questions and doubts on orthodox views of the virgin birth, deity of Christ, and the resurrection, reflected in his graduate school writings. I even recall reading that while in Sunday School as a youth at his father’s church, he raised questions concerning the validity of the gospel accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Even John the Baptist, while in prison, sent word to Jesus, “Are you the Christ or shall we look for another?” Doubt and questioning usually take place at some point in the pilgrimage of every believer. Many of us simply have not recorded our thoughts or spoken aloud when battling with doubt. John the Baptist experienced days of doubt, but he died devoted to the belief that Christ was King of God’s Kingdom—so did Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Carl Ellis, reports that Martin Luther King applied to two conservative seminaries, and was rejected by both because of his color. He matriculated in the M.Div. and PH.D. programs at liberal theological schools in the ‘40’s. Conservative schools simply were not enrolling Black students at the time. Dr. Ellis testifies that one of the schools that rejected Martin Luther King as a graduate seminary student also rejected him for the same reason. It’s really arrogant to criticize a man for embracing liberal theology, when you refuse to allow him to enroll in theological conservative institutions. SBC seminaries did not enroll Black students until the ‘50’s, when they announced they would only enroll “highly qualified Negroes.” Not allowing Blacks to enroll in SBC seminaries was a practical denial of the faith, equally as problematic as King’s liberal theological leanings during his graduate work.

The good news after completing his PH.D. and while pastoring the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. King returned to the faith of his father—Martin Luther King, Sr. Dr. King testified that he was returning to the “God that would make a way, out of no way.” That’s common phraseology in the Black church to refer to The God of the Bible. Furthermore, King announced that he was embracing his father’s God; again, which was also another way of expressing in Black theological circles that he was returning to orthodoxy. He made those statements on the heels of bombs being blasted at his home in Montgomery, potentially endangering the lives of his wife and children.

In one of his lesser known sermons, preached at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on Easter Sunday, April 1957, in a message entitled “Questions That Easter Answers,” Dr. King made the following statements that ought to lay to rest his beliefs in orthodoxy:

“Easter is a day above all days. It surpasses the mystery and marvel of Christmas with all of the glory of the incarnation.” (MLK believed in the incarnation, which would include the virgin birth and Christ’s Deity.)

“Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we have fit testimony that this earthly life is not the end…”  (Martin Luther King’s confession of the resurrection in his own words)

 “…men through the generations have learned when they live close to Jesus Christ, that Easter can emerge, and that all of the darkness of Good Friday can pass away.” (You cannot live close to Jesus, unless He is the living Lord.)

“And this means that life is meaningful, that life is not doomed to frustration and futility but life can end up in fulfillment in the life and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

“We thank you, this morning, for your Son, Jesus, who came by to let us know that love is the most durable power in the world, who came by to let us know that death can’t defeat us, to take the sting out of the grave and death and make it possible for all of us to have eternal life. We thank you, oh God. And God grant that we will be grateful recipients of thy eternal blessings. In the name and spirit of Jesus, we pray. Amen.” (I am baffled as to how anyone can read Martin Luther King’s Easter 1957 sermon and prayer and conclude that he did not believe the gospel.)

Martin Luther King, Jr. shed his liberal views on Christology expressed during his graduate school years and preached the powerful Easter message in 1957 (previously referenced) that affirms the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His Lordship. It would certainly be appropriate for those claiming that Dr. King did not believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ to now acknowledge this misunderstanding.

Many are unaware that Al Mohler and Frank Page embraced liberal views on women in ministry while in graduate school studying under more moderate/liberal professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Later, as did Martin Luther King, Jr., they shed their liberal views and embraced a view on women in ministry more akin to the BF&M 2000.

The second objection to the King celebration has to do with his “alleged immoral lifestyle.” The reason I say alleged is because I am unfamiliar with any female or male, or their descendants or relatives, who have testified to a personal sexual encounter with Dr. King. That is not to say, one or more did not transpire, it is simply to say, I find it interesting that no one has come forth to claim such a personal encounter.

Nevertheless, my response to this objection will be relatively brief. I was recently asked: how can the church reconcile Martin Luther King’s adultery, plagiarism and doctrinal deviancy with a celebration?

My answer: Whatever sins Martin Luther King was guilty of were a matter between his God, his wife and children, his congregation and himself. The church does not have to reconcile, King’s sins with any celebration of him. Just as the church does not have to reconcile the racism of W.A. and Betty Criswell, who are both on record unrepentantly claiming Africans were cursed and assigned to servitude. The Criswell’s will have to give an account to God for their racism. My father, knowing Criswell was a racist, loved to hear him preach and had several of his books in our home, during my formative, ministerial years. I would celebrate Criswell today, not because of his sin, but because of his good. And that is why the SBC ought to celebrate Martin Luther King. I hope many others will join the celebration in Memphis as a testimony to the grace, goodness and redemption of God, in all our lives and as another major step in the SBC toward racial healing.

May the Spirit of God breathe upon The King Memphis Celebration! May Southern Baptists come from the North, South, East and West! Job well done SBC ERLC!

GRATEFUL FOR WILLIAM SEYMOUR, N.L. ROBINSON, ONE COMMUNITY CHURCH AWARDS, AND ARKANSAS BAPTIST COLLEGE TRUSTEE AND LIFE ACTION ADVISORY BOARD APPOINTMENTS

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

In the past three months, I have been chosen to receive three distinguished awards and given an opportunity to serve on the Board of Trustees of a Historically Black College and on the Advisory Board of an evangelical revival ministry with an incredible vision. There are numerous awards, certificates, plaques and tributes I have received across a forty-year span of public life and ministry. I am equally thankful and godly proud of all those as well. Typically, I am not one who desires or broadcasts awards, honors and Board appointments. However, I am so thankful and thrilled to serve and be associated with these awards and institutions. I feel unworthy of each one. I wanted to write a statement to promote each ministry that has entrusted their name to me; and given me the honor of promoting, praying for and supporting their significant and substantial ministries. I pray that you will join me in praying for, supporting and appreciating these ministries. I guess it is a sign of old age that these most recent awards and appointments are unusually meaningful to me. They all came suddenly and unexpectedly.

THE WILLIAM JOSEPH SEYMOUR AWARD

I will travel to Los Angeles, April 6-8, 2018, to receive the William Joseph Seymour Award and speak at related events. Who was William Joseph Seymour? Yale University historian, Sidney Ahlstrom, stated before his death (July 3, 1984) that Seymour personified a black piety “which exerted its greatest direct influence on American religious history”—placing Seymour’s impact ahead of figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, WEB Dubois, E.C. Morris, C.H. Mason, Booker T. Washington, Richard Allen, Frederick Douglas, Marcus Garvey and a host of other religious and cultural-impact iconic figures in Black American history. Although Seymour is not as well known in cultural Black history, when one measures the height, depth, width, breath, and longevity of Seymour’s historic and current impact, I agree with Ahlstrom: William Joseph Seymour “exerted its greatest direct influence on American religious history.”

Perhaps, many are unaware of the legacy of Seymour because truly his incredibly impactful and fruitful ministry centered not on himself or his legacy, but rather on the Spirit of The Living God. The Holy Spirit is the ignored member of the Trinitarian Enterprise. The Holy Spirit is the only God on planet earth. Yet, The Holy Spirit historically and currently does not receive the worship, study, fellowship and celebration, such as given to God The Father and God The Son. Seymour was a game changer as it relates to the church ignoring of The Holy Spirit, particularly in the African American community. No theological system or denominational stream has influenced the Black worship experience as much as Pentecostalism.

Globally, the fastest growing churches and churches that are retaining membership, in this season of “a great falling away,” are charismatic/Pentecostal churches. The cofounder and single most important influence on the widespread growth and development of Pentecostalism was William Joseph Seymour. Oral Roberts University, Hillsong Church and music, The Church of God In Christ, The Assemblies of God, CBN and TBN Christian Television, C.H. Mason, C.P. Jones, Oral Roberts, T.D. Jakes, Kenneth Ulmer, Jack Hayford, Paul Morton, G.E. Patterson and Tua Tagovailoa, the amazing Alabama quarterback that led them to win the 2018 College Football Championship, all can trace their spiritual and theological roots in whole or in part to William Joseph Seymour.

When one considers the phenomenal widespread growth of Pentecostalism in Black America, and arguably the largest spiritual influence in African American communities, and how charismatic/Pentecostal worship and some theological tenets have almost totally impacted all African American churches, how could anyone dispute Ahlstrom’s claim that William Seymour is the most influential religious figure in Black American history. Yet, by name and face recognition, he is far less known than Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, E.V. Hill, Tony Evans and T.D. Jakes, in many evangelical circles.

If you were asked to name the one person who has brought to the masses—the person, work, doctrine and ministry of the Holy Spirit—in post biblical history—more so than any other—who would you name? If one gave an honest, objective, historically accurate and truthful answer to that question, the answer would be: William Joseph Seymour. Seymour is primarily known as the man who eventually led a prayer movement in Los Angeles from about 1906-1922 that literally expanded around the globe in a ten-year period. The prayer movement led by Seymour was thoroughly interracial and interdenominational.

At a time when blending races and denominations in worship was virtually impossible; and even today, it is a difficult feat to accomplish. By the power of The Holy Spirit, thousands upon thousands of persons of every race from throughout the world, and persons from every denomination made their way to Los Angeles, Azusa Street, in order to experience an unusual, historic, outpouring of The Holy Spirit. The Azusa Street outpouring of The Holy Spirit was kindred to the first and second great awakening.

Seymour was born the son of former slaves in Centerville, Louisiana, in 1878. His first name, William, means: Determined helmet or protection—later meaning “conqueror.” His middle name, Joseph, means: Add or increase. His last name, Seymour, means: Dark-skinned saint. Seymour’s name is filled with prophetic insight that he fulfilled throughout his life.

In light of the illustrious, iconic, and impactful life, leadership and legacy of William Joseph Seymour, I am thrilled beyond measure to accept The William Joseph Seymour Award.

THE N.L. ROBINSON AWARD

Rev. Norman Lee Robinson served as the proud pastor of the Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Arlington, Texas, for fifty years. His congregation grew from 17 to 10,000 under his leadership. His motto was: “Live a Clean Life.” And that he did. His integrity and lifestyle were impeccable. Rev. Robinson fell into the arms of Jesus in 2017. I was so delighted that his successor, Rev. James Thompson, his church’s leadership and community leaders chose me to receive this distinguished award. Arlington’s mayor, Jeff Williams, read the reasons for granting me the award. I was deeply humbled being associated with the character and leadership traits of the most venerated Pastor—period—in the history of Arlington, Rev. N.L. Robinson. I received this award in February 2018. In 1983, (27 years old) the year I planted Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX, my father took me to Rev. Robinson’s church and said to him, “Take care of my son.” I was 60 years old when “Pops” passed. Rev. Robinson was affectionately called by everyone, “Pops.”

ONE COMMUNITY CHURCH AWARD, PASTOR CONWAY EDWARDS

In January 2018, I received the Distinguished Senior Pastor Recognition Award from One Community Church, Plano, TX, led by Dr. Conway Edwards. This church is only ten years old, and the average attendance currently is 9,500 (documented numbers). They hosted their 2nd Annual National Leadership Seminar where they chose to bestow this honor upon me. Last year’s recipient of this Distinguished Senior Pastor Recognition Award was Dr. Tony Evans, the internationally known expository preacher/pastor of Dallas. I was grateful and humbled to follow him as the honoree and receive the large cash gift award that Pastor Edwards prefers to give as an award, rather than plaques, trophies, certificates, etc. I was extremely pleased and thankful for the generous gift. The world will hear about One Community Church Plano.

Their Annual Leadership Conference is already up to 800 registrants in their second year conducting it. One Community Church is one of the most innovative, biblio-centric churches in America. As Jesus said to James and John, when they asked Jesus about His residence, Jesus said “Come and see.” Every young—and, not so young—pastor and church leader would do themselves a great service in January 2019, if they attend the One Community Church Leadership Conference, “Come and see” (John 1:38-39).

ARKANSAS BAPTIST COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES APPOINTMENT

I was asked by the current Board of Trustees at Arkansas Baptist College (ABC) to join them as a board member in February 2018. My parents were married on the campus of ABC, while my father was a student there; so the college holds a special place in my heart. The College was founded in 1884 by former slaves. E.C. Morris was their first President, who also was the first President of the National Baptist Convention. E.C. Morris was also one of the early pastors of St. Paul Baptist Church, Pine Bluff, AR, where I was born again, baptized, licensed and ordained as a preacher.

As a youth, we made annual trips to ABC, and each youth was asked to donate two cans of pork and beans to the College, for the student cafeteria. The Cornerstone Church, Arlington, where I pastor, has donated over $225,000 to the College over the past 25 years. We believe in their mission and their potential. The late Dr. Sandy F. Ray, Pastor of Cornerstone Church, Brooklyn, NY, Rev. Jerry Black of Atlanta, GA, and Rev. C.D. Edwards of Little Rock, AR, are a few distinguished individuals who are proud graduates of the College. Bishop C.H. Mason, founder of The Church of God in Christ, also matriculated at ABC.

LIFE ACTION MINISTRY ADVISORY BOARD APPOINTMENT

 Life Action Revival Ministries, based in Buchanan, MI, is an evangelical ministry uniquely focused on revival and disciple-making. Across the past 20 years, they have conducted five revival meetings at Cornerstone Church, Arlington. Three of these meetings were two weeks in duration. Their approach to revival has wrought wonderful changes in the lives of our people, healed marriages, evoked repentance and a clear conscience before God with many of our people and enhanced the prayer and devotional Bible reading among our people. I highly recommend Life Action to local churches of every ethnicity, if you want to see God do an in-depth work in the lives of His people that result in fruit that remains.

Rev. John Avant was recently selected as President of Life Action Ministries. Churches where Rev. Avant has pastored have experienced an awakening during his tenure. An extended Revival broke out at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth while John was preaching in Chapel, during the ‘90’s.

John Avant and his executive team recently cast a fresh and exciting vision for their ministry. Their vision: “Millions of God-Astonishing Lives in Action with Him Shattering Division, Injustice, and Lostness.” It is most unusual to see an evangelical ministry make the centerpiece of their vision addressing “injustice” and “division.”

God may sovereignly choose Life Action to partner with Black, Asian and Hispanic church leaders throughout America to unite our hearts–those longing for revival, to pray together for a spiritual awakening in America. Just recently, Rev. Avant asked me to serve on Life Action Ministries Advisory Board.

It is my prayer that you will pray for me as I attempt to continue to serve Christ’s Kingdom and His people. Hopefully, my grandchildren and great grandchildren will get a hold of this writing, at some point, and it will be a source of inspiration, information, affirmation and encouragement to them (Psalm 145:4).

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