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Time to ‘forge ahead into the 21st century,’ says new leader of Baptist ministers

  • Written by Dr. Sybill C. Mitchell

“…We don’t want to be just an organization of ministers, but we want to make a marked difference in our community. My vision is to expand our efforts in mentoring our boys and continuing to invest in our children’s education…”

– Dr. Roosevelt Joyner


 The Rev. Dr. Frank E. Ray delivered a spirited keynote address during the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association installation service. The MBMA continues to be an active financial supporter for The LeMoyne Owen College, and for the James L. Netters and Henry Logan Stark chairs at the Memphis Theological Seminary. (Photos by Tyrone P. Easley)
 The MBMA has donated tens of thousands of dollars over the past three decades to “deserving seniors who aspire to attend college.” Now the group is being led by new President Dr. Roosevelt Terrance Joyner (right) and Vice President Dr. Luther R. Williams. Also pictured (l-r), Clara Williams and Carolyn Joyner.

A changing of the guard in leadership at the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association (MBMA) “will continue the standard of excellence demonstrated by past administrations and forge ahead into the 21st century,” according to the organization’s newly seated president.

Immediate past president, the Rev. Carl Greer, passed the gavel to the incoming president, Dr. Roosevelt Joyner, pastor of Koinonia Baptist Church, last Sunday (Jan. 8) at Koinonia at 4340 Millbranch Rd. The new administration will serve through 2014.

“Our plans are to move forward into the 21st century technologically, socially, and religiously,” said Joyner. “Rev. Greer’s leadership focused on some very important issues regarding the African-American community – educating our children and improving overall healthcare for our people.

“We want to continue to make a positive difference in our community by expanding the programs we have in place to mentor young people, especially our boys. I want to focus, not so much on political activism, but on making Baptist ministers enablers – enabling our children to obtain a quality education and become successful adults. We plan to work closely with our schools and in our churches to expand our efforts.”

The MBMA has 400-plus members, many of whom are pastors of established churches and outreach ministries. Others are associate ministers, seminary students and aspiring pastors. The group meets every Tuesday morning at the organization’s headquarters, located at 591 E. McLemore Ave. in South Memphis.

Setting administrative priorities

Joyner said the MBMA is building a website that should be up and running by the first of March. It’s just one of the technological advances underway. Expect interactive features that will enable members to post video invitations to worship as well as full sermon messages.

“This will propel us squarely into 21st-century ministry,” said Joyner. “The possibilities are endless.”

As for political endorsements, Joyner said the association does not anticipate making any.

“This is a critical election year and some candidates will probably seek an endorsement. But with hundreds of members, we represent a number of views and political stands. We will not publicly support any candidate,” he said.

“However, we will make a stand when some issue involves blatant race, gender, or religious discrimination.”

One of the MBMA’s most important priorities involves creating a more effective mechanism for helping ex-felons successfully reintegrate into life on the outside, said Joyner.

“Most of these people are not hardened criminals, but they caught a felony case. When they are released, they end up going back to jail because no one will hire them. We’re not excusing lawless behavior, but we want Memphis corporations and other entities to help first-time offenders secure gainful employment so they can become productive members of society.”

Joyner said he has contacted Congressman Steve Cohen, as well as Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell regarding the issue.

“Something has got to change. Ex-felons need our help. The majority of those affected are African-American young men and women. They need our help, and love compels us to get involved.”

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