The members of the Missionary Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Washington, D.C. and Vicinity met Jan. 6 at Trinidad Baptist Church in Northeast to install new officers. The officers pledged to help the area’s needy, hungry and elderly as their priority for this year, the conference president said.
The Rev. Melvin G. Brown, pastor of Greater New Hope Baptist Church in Northwest Washington and a member of the conference, said in a sermon celebrating the new officers that each had demonstrated a commitment to serving not only their own congregations, but residents of the region in general. The 2 ½-hour ceremony drew dozens of members who came out to pay homage to the leaders. Many in attendance were officials of the conference themselves.
“Today, my brothers and sisters, we have gathered here to recognize and celebrate the faithfulness of these exemplary and extraordinary souls for Christ,” he said. “These elected officers that we have before us today…have…been faithful in their stewardship.”
The Missionary Baptist Ministers’ Conference is a coalition of pastors of mostly smaller churches in the area who banded together years ago to work on common concerns, such as helping the needy and working with elected officials on behalf of Blacks and church goers.
After the Jan. 6 ceremony, the group’s president, the Rev. Donald K. Sadler, pastor of New Morning Star Baptist Church in Northeast Washington, said the conference members, led by the new officers, will work this year to lobby for city officials to provide more affordable housing for local residents, work with people in need of jobs and food and provide a support system to pastors. He referenced the stress many pastors face leading their flocks while they deal with their own problems. Two Black pastors recently made news when they committed suicide, one on a Sunday morning as his family and members waited for him to arrive at church to preach.
“I want to continue our overarching theme, which is celebrating community,” Sadler told the AFRO.
He said the ministers recently helped local residents apply for health benefits under Obamacare. He said the conference represents 300 churches in the District, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia.
The pastors are also keeping an eye on the upcoming elections in the District. The officers want to help D.C. residents and the members of the conference to become informed voters by bringing the candidates to them to share their goals, objectives, and visions for the city, Sadler said.
“We want to have the opportunity to sit down at the table and discuss the vision, the direction of our city, and have a voice for those persons who we represent and pastor in the city,” Sadler said.
They are also planning to be active in the elections for the National Baptist Convention, USA in September and the Progressive National Baptist Convention scheduled for August.
With the economic downturn affecting jobs and gentrification in the city leaving many of their members being locked out of opportunity, the pastors are busier than ever, Sadler said.
“There’s always not enough work being done at home and [on] foreign missions, so it is a perpetual effort,” he said. “It’s not a hard task to find things to pick up and continue to do because the needs of others are continuing, the economy continues to be at a stalemate, people continue to lose jobs and lose hope, so our work [continues].”