By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
WOODWORTH – Although no formal report was given on headway made toward the goals outlined in the Report of the President’s 2020 Commission, approved by Louisiana Baptists in 2013, observers did comment on one sign of progress that was apparent during the Executive Board reports, but not formally noted from the floor.
Louisiana Baptists Church Planting Director James Jenkins told the Baptist Message that for the first time three black committee chairmen gave reports to the Executive Board: Jeffery Friend, pastor of Suburban Baptist Church in New Orleans, delivered the Missions Support Committee report; Lee Wesley, pastor of Community Bible Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, gave a report from the Convention’s Committee on Nominations; and George Guillory, pastor of Glen Oaks Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, shared the Properties Committee report.
Moreover, he beamed at how natural this historic precedence took place, without fanfare or hint of tokenism, just the result of an intentional focus on reaching every people group.
“This is an exciting and historic time because it shows the Louisiana Baptist Convention is moving into the future. It represents who we are becoming as a state,” Jenkins said. “In keeping with our population growth and trends we are trying to move toward including more multi-ethnic churches as part of our Convention.”
The final report of the 2020 Commission concluded there were two avenues Louisiana Baptist must concentrate on in the future – reaching the next generation and reaching every people group. Since the final report, the People Group Engagement Standing Committee has worked with the LBC Executive Director to guide the work of the convention toward reaching every people group.
One of three mandates of this committee is to create avenues for input and involvement in Louisiana Baptist life by non-Anglo leaders and congregations, including participation on Convention boards, and the Executive Board has led the way to get more involvement by non-Anglos in the work of the Convention, Jenkins said.
Executive Director David Hankins was pleased with the special milestone, and also was impressed with how the multi-racial makeup of the leadership team seemed just a matter of course.
“The 2020 Commission Report challenged us to engage more people groups and to strive toward ethnic diversity,” he said. “I believe we are making good headway as evidenced today.”
“The People Group Engagement Task Force has been tirelessly working for the last three years to create avenues to get more of our non-Anglo leaders involved,” Hankins continued. “What we witnessed this afternoon shows progress is being made.
“We are not there yet,” he offered, “but we are making steady strides.”