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In ecumenical effort, African American Baptists
join together to respond to human need in Haiti

By Bob Allen
Associated Baptist Press

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Presidents of five historically African-American Baptist denominations said they are collaborating to respond more effectively to human need in Haiti.  

Presidents of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention; National Baptist Convention, USA; National Baptist Convention of America; National Missionary Baptist Convention of America; and Progressive National Baptist Convention formed the African-American Baptist Mission Collaboration.

Representing more than 10 million Baptists in the United States, the coalition exists to link resources to create financial and technical synergies in responding through relief and recovery for Haiti, advocate for just and compassionate government policies toward Haiti and work toward sustainable community development in the island nation devastated by the Jan. 12 earthquake.

"This collaboration is essential for the kind of response that is needed in Haiti," said Julius Scruggs, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA.

C. C. Robertson, president of the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, expressed "100 percent support of this unprecedented collaboration."  

"The collaboration will help us to enlarge the relationships and partnerships that our different conventions now have on the ground," said Stephen Thurston, president of the National Baptist Convention of America.

T. DeWitt Smith Jr., president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, said the collaboration among Baptists would "create a platform for even more expansive networking and cooperation."

Robert Murray, president of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, predicted the effort "will be good for the people of Haiti and good for our witness to Jesus Christ."  

The leaders plan to share more details of the collaboration at a news conference in Chicago during the first week in March.

"This collaboration among African-American Baptists is an answer to a unique call," said David Goatley, executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention. "The need and opportunity for ministry, empowerment and advocacy for the benefit of our Haitian sisters and brothers is, in a peculiar sense, a 21st century Macedonian Call."

The "Macedonian Call" refers to a story in the 16th chapter of Acts where the Apostle Paul responds to a night vision of a man from Macedonia entreating him to "come over into Macedonia, and help us."

Goatley said African-American Baptist leaders decided to follow Paul's example to "immediately" seek to go to Haiti because God "has called us there together."

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) , pjenks@ncccusa.org

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