Convocation on Black Church leads to covenant


By Rev. Fitzgerald Lovett
Conference Staff

The recent Convocation on the Black Church gave birth to a covenant agreement between the national Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century and the Mississippi Conference.

Cheryl Stevenson, the SBC-21 national coordinator, was one of the presenters at the convocation, held Oct. 20 at Rust College in Holly Springs. SBC-21’s goal is to offer The United Methodist Church a transformational learning model. This model is designed to enable one congregation to share its gifts of vitality with other churches wanting to expand their gifts in mission and ministry, and in the process, to revitalize black congregations and The United Methodist Church.


The Congregation Resource Centers were discussed as well. This program is where local churches are paired with a teaching church, a Congregation Resource Center. The Congregation Resource Centers provide church-to-church encounters that are motivational and effective in facilitating new directions and commitments for mission and ministry. 


To attend, churches are asked to bring five members, including the pastor, from their congregations. Each church was given a packet that included a congregational-community profile form, profile questions, partner church covenant and other pertinent information.


As part of the convent that grew out of the convocation:

• The conference will encourage participation from its 347 black churches. 

• Mississippi SBC-21 will be informed of all Mississippi churches that are approved as partner churches in the Congregation Resource Centers program. 

• The Mississippi Conference will meet with SBC-21 before and after the training event. The meeting after the event will focus on the learning process and developing a Ministry Action Plan, (MAP). 

• The responsibilities of the partner church, as stated in the NSBC-21 handbook, will be monitored by MSBC-21 with reports sent to NSBC-21.

• The National SBC-21 will provide resource and training for Mississippi churches. NSBC-21 and MSBC-21 will partner to provide training events in the Mississippi Conference.

• The N-SBC21 will provide training for MSBC-21 staff members.


Christian Washington (right), CEO of RealCoaching, also spoke at the convocation. His focus was “Growing a TOUCH Church.” He detailed how a church can gain members without being judgmental. Washington is a member of St. John’s UMC, one of the Congregation Resource Centers.

For information regarding the SBC-21 initiative, contact me at or by calling 601-354-0515.


Training Schedule

The 2008 Congregation Resource Center training schedule:

• Ministering Through Media & Music – Feb. 15-17; Brooks Memorial UMC, the Rev. John T. Simmons Jr.; Jamaica, N.Y.

• Homeless Ministry in The Urban Setting – April 3-5; St. John’s UMC, the Rev. Rudy and Juanita Rasmus; Houston, Texas

• The Rural Institute – Oct. 9-11; St. Thomas Charge, the Rev. Marvin Taylor; Huger, S.C.

• Leadership Institute – Nov. 6-8; St. Luke Community UMC, the Rev. Tyrone Gordon; Dallas


Lovett serves on the Mississippi Conference staff.