I just arrived and I’m getting settled into my hotel room in Fort Knox, Kentucky. I’m here to start revival tonight for Pastor Glen Gordon and the Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church. I met Pastor Gordon shortly after I arrived in Frankfort and he’s an active part of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, of which I serve as Chairman of the Publishing Board.
I’ve never been to this part of Kentucky. It’s home to the famous Fort Knox, Kentucky Military Installation, the George S. Patton Museum, and the Federal Reserve Gold Storage. Thousands of US Soldiers are housed in this area and obviously this is an economy that is centered around the military and accompanying economies.
Today is a strange day since it has been hours after the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Egypt and Libya. Even in the convenience store, people seemed a little somber. Even though we’re here in Kentucky, the reverberation and military possibilities apparently are on the minds of several people here.
So, I’m getting ready to settle down and prepare to preach tonight. Keep me in your prayers.
I’m a student of National Baptist history. I have been national baptist (African-American baptist) since I joined the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in 1972 and began attending conventions under my pastor, Rev. Sylvester McCullumn. At that time there were three major conventions – the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (NBCUSA), the National Baptist Convention of America (NBCA), and the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. (PNBC).
At that time in Oregon it was predominately an NBCA area. Dr. J. Carl Sams of Jacksonville, FL was the National President. There was only one church in our area that was NBCUSA and that was Mt. Sinai Community Baptist Church, pastored by Rev. L.L. Ransom, who had two sons that I became classmates with (Ronnie and Donnie) at Jefferson High School. There were no PNBC (and to this day, there are still no) churches in Portland.
Since that time two major developments have occurred. NBCA split in 1989 in Dallas, TX when the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America (NMBCA) was formed to support the R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation in Nashville and the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship was formed in 1993 in New Orleans and for the first time, Baptist pastors adopted the usage of the titles, “Bishop” and “Overseer” and under Bishop Paul Sylvester Morton’s leadership became an overnight sensation.
However, it’s now some 20 years from the last reformation was formed and I’m wondering aloud do we really need four traditional baptist conventions (not counting Full Gospel). I think it’s time to consider consolidation of the conventions.
Let me explain – NMBCA, NBCUSA and NBCA are basically the same convention structure in three different houses. They are traditional in their approach and structure and although “National” is in their name, each convention overlaps and some of them have stronghold areas – for example, NMBCA is strong in California, Oklahoma, Washington and Texas. NBCUSA is strong in Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, Georgia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Alabama, Mississippi and New York. NBCA is strong in Illinois, Florida, Texas, Washington, Oregon. You get the idea.
The truth of the matter is that African-American baptists would benefit from a stronger, unified two convention solution. Congresses are dropping in attendance. Convention attendance is dropping. But we have resources and college institutions that could benefit from a stronger structure.
Those three conventions could become a powerhouse – a real NATIONAL BAPTIST CONVENTION, INTERNATIONAL, INC. They are brethren knit from the same cloth and the combined resources could be tremendous. The problem in bringing these three conventions together is going to be with the publishing of their materials – but I think a business like approach can be reached and something could be worked out.
The PNBC is different for a variety of reasons. First, the Convention has a commitment to governmental affairs, women equality, education and civil rights that the other conventions don’t share a zeal for. PNBC’s headquarters is less than 5 miles than the White House, they embrace new ideals and again, embrace women in ministry which is not the case in the other three conventions. PNBC should still exist for those reasons and should serve as the prophetic voice of national baptist life.
Which would then mean we would have THREE NATIONAL BODIES – National Baptist Convention, International, Inc. headquartered in Nashville; Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. headquartered in Washington, DC; and Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, headquartered in New Orleans/Atlanta.
Also, consideration should be made that all three bodies would work cooperatively together in the area of Foreign Missions and give their support to the Lott Carey Mission Convention.
Well, a preacher can dream . . . but nobody thought that we would ever have a Joint Board Meeting of NMBCA, NBCA, NBCUSA, and PNBC – and that happened twice in my lifetime.
Funeral services for Rev. Charles Smith, pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, will be held Saturday, Sept. 15 at noon at the church, 185 Eddie Robinson Senior Drive in Baton Rouge. Rev. Smith died Tuesday morning after a lengthy illness.
He was 80 years old.
“We appreciate the kindness shown to my father not only during his 50 years of service, but also during his retirement transition,” Rev. Smith tells 9News Neighborhoods. “Thanks to the community for everything they have done for him. He loved this community with all of his heart.”
Rev. Smith retired in May after 50 years of service. A community banquet and special worship service was held in his honor.
Rev. Smith succeeded his father Rev. Dudley Smith into the ministry. However, two strokes in the past year have taken their toll on his health. He talked about that earlier this year.
“I didn’t choose to retire, but I thank God that he has blessed me as he has,” Rev. Smith said during an interview in January announcing his retirement.
Rev. Smith has championed many causes including being a big supporter of education, providing more than $150,000 in scholarships over the years. The information below is from the Church web site:
Rev. Charles T. Smith is the pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Baton Rouge with membership of over 3,000. He is a graduate of McKinley High School and Southern University. He attended New Orleans Baptist Seminary. He received his Doctor of Divinity from Union Baptist Theological Seminary.
Rev. Smith’s religious and community affiliations (past and present) are numerous. He is currently a member of the Board of the following organizations: General Health Systems; Baton Rouge Rotary Club; Istrouma Area Council Boy Scouts of America; former board member of Young Leaders Academy; Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance; and a member of the Advisory Board with Volunteers in Public Schools. He also holds membership in the 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, Alpha XI Boule’ Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and Prince Hall Masons -33rd Degree.
Rev. Smith is President Emeritus of the Fourth District Baptist Association, former Vice President of Budget of Louisiana Baptist Convention, former Vice President at Large of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
He has received many awards and honors including the Phi Beta Sigma Humanitarian Jubilee Award of 1988, Whitney Young Humanitarian Award for contribution to the underprivileged boys in Scouting, Baton Rouge Brotherhood Award by the National Council of Christians and Jews for contributions to racial unity. Rev. Charles T. Smith was recognized as the 2003 Distinguished Citizen of the Year at the 83rd Annual Council for Humanities Banquet 2004. On July 22, 2009, Rev. Charles T. Smith was presented the 2009 Racial Justice Award for Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church and Shiloh Baptist Charitable Foundation, Inc, by the YWCA. Annually, there are three scholarships awarded to three students from East Baton Rouge Parish School System that are not members of Shiloh: one African American, one Caucasian, and one of another race. This scholarship program, begun by the Rev. Charles T. Smith in 2001, is intended to promote multiculturalism and unity, as well as to provide financial assistance to students, who are awarded $5,000 each. Each scholarship applicant must submit an essay addressing what racial harmony means to him/her and what he or she does to promote it. The students contribution to racial justice and harmony must be substantiate by the school’s principal or guidance counselor.
Rev. Smith is married to Eula Vercher Smith and together they have four children and seven grandchildren.