Texas Baptists African American Rally celebrates 40 years of impact

by Meredith Poe on November 14, 2022 in Annual Meeting

WACO—On Sunday evening, Nov. 13, the African American Rally took place at Greater New Light Missionary Baptist Church. The rally is one of three held in conjunction with the 2022 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting. Members of the African American Fellowship of Texas (AAFT), along with Texas Baptists staff and churches, gathered together for a time of worship to celebrate 40 years of impact through Texas Baptists African American Ministries.

Dr. Joe Ratcliff, the first president of AAFT, reflected on 40 years of ministry to African Americans in Texas and shared a word of encouragement: “Don’t ever lose your identity. This Convention needs you … I’m proud, so proud, that you must continue the struggle because we are in a strange season, but it’s no stranger than it was 40 years ago when we made our presence known.”

Director of African American Ministries Oza Jones recognized Ratcliff as the inaugural president and presented him with a plaque honoring his time of service.

Dr. Edward Wagner, the 15th and current president of AAFT, congratulated his predecessor, “I often tell people that I stand on some strong, powerful shoulders. And these people that are here tonight saw a pair of these shoulders that I’m standing on … and I thank God for you.”

In 2022, African American Ministries brought 47 new churches into the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), including 12 churches from out of state — bringing the total number of African American churches partnered with the ministry to over 1,000.

Wagner then brought a sermon from Psalm 42:1-11 about thirsting for God in times of trouble. He shared that if believers are to be salt to the world, they should be thirsty for the Lord and also create thirst in others.

“Can you join David here tonight and allow your soul to thirst and hunger for the Lord? It’s important, you see, because when you’re thirsty, you got to do something about it. You can’t be thirsty and just go on about your business … you gotta quench that thirst,” he said.

Wagner reminded attendees that the answer to spiritual thirst is the Holy Spirit.

“When a Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit, God can bring down strongholds in his heart; when a church is filled with the Holy Spirit, God can turn the world upside down,” he said.

Pastor Michael Joseph, treasurer of AAFT, led a time of offering.

“The money that you give is invested in people and spent on the work of the cross … and we thank God for that,” he said. “Let’s give the Lord a good offering, and let’s give God our best.”

A special offering for Texas Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) was also collected. Dr. Jamie Russell, director of the BSM at Texas Southern University, led this time of giving and shared a video made by a collaboration of students showing the work of the BSM on campus.

Jones echoed the importance of student ministry, saying, “Anytime you go to a game, the wave don’t start in the old folks section, the wave starts in the student section. So if we want to see a wave of the gospel, it might just start in the ‘student’ section … We need to pour into students and make sure they know who Jesus is so that they will spread who Jesus is.”

The evening closed with a prayer over Texas Baptists staff by Pastor George Effiom of United Christian Fellowship of Arlington.

“We ask that You will encourage them, that You will be a source of strength for them,” Effiom prayed. “Father, join their hearts together, that they may work in unity to glorify Your name … May greater and greater things come for us as a fellowship, in the ministry and in our respective churches, until You have all the glory, all the honor and all the praise.”

To learn more about Texas Baptists African American Ministries, visit txb.org/aam.

Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.

The ministry of the convention is made possible by giving through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Mary Hill Davis Offering® for Texas Missions, Texas Baptists Worldwide and Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Thank you for your faithful and generous support.

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Read more articles in: Annual Meeting, African American Ministry, Cultural Engagement