Registration opens for Black Ministry Convocation

Planners for this year’s Black Ministry Family Convocation, set for July 19-23 at Concordia College, Selma, Ala., believe the historical significance of the site will attract more convocation participants than in past years.

“We’re going to the cradle of Black Lutheranism in our Synod,” explained Dr. Willie Stallworth, associate executive director of the Board for Black Ministry Services, which sponsors the biennial gatherings.

Alabama was the fastest-growing field when LCMS missionaries began planting Black congregations in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Moreover, the school that became Concordia College, Selma, was started in 1922 to train teachers for Synod mission schools, and Selma also was the site of civil rights marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965.

Because of its Black-history connections, the city should prove to be a “tremendous draw” for Black Lutherans, said Stallworth, who expects some 1,500 people to attend.  The convocations usually average around 1,200 participants, he added.

Registration materials for the convocation were mailed in February to all LCMS district offices and more than 300 Synod congregations involved in Black ministry.

Addressing the convocation theme, “Crossing Over,” based on Josh. 1:1-3, will be two keynote speakers:

  • Dr. Cheryl E. Williams, associate professor in the School of BusinessWilliams, Cheryl and assistant to the president for International and Cultural Relations at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif.  Williams also owns Communication Works, a corporate training and consulting company serving Fortune 500 corporations.  She has lived or worked in more than 30 countries.

  • Dr. John Beasley, an actor who has appeared in a number of stage productions and TV shows.  Beasley founded the John Beasley Theater in Omaha, Neb., which focuses on works featuring or written by African Americans.  He is a member of Hope Lutheran Church, an LCMS congregation in Omaha.

The five-day convocation will include daily worship services, business sessions, performances by Lutheran choirs and musicians, and more than two dozen workshops on topics such as finances, spiritual gifts, leadership, church music, grant writing, peacemaking, church planting, marriage, Web-site development, singles, health fairs, and sermons for children and youth.

Dr. Phillip Campbell, executive director of the Board for Black Ministry Services, will share his vision for black ministry.

Leading worship services will be LCMS Pastors James Wiggins Jr., Byron Williams, Greg Manning, James Brown, Paul Anderson, James Ertl, and Richard Dickinson.

A separate youth program — available for junior-high and high-school students — will offer Bible study, crafts, song/dance sessions, a talent show, and a trip to the Visionland amusement park in Bessemer, Ala., south of Birmingham.  Child care for younger children also will be available.

Pre-convocation sessions for educators, mission planters, district staff, and pastors serving Black ministries will be offered July 17-18 on the Concordia, Selma, campus.  The educators will spend their first day in Rose Bud, Ala., at the site of the first Lutheran church and school planted on the Alabama field.
“Early-bird” registration by May 7 is $115 for adults and $75 for children and youth.  Registration from May 8 to June 25 is $140 for adults and $90 for children and youth.  Late registration from June 26 to July 23 is $165 for adults and $105 for children and youth.
Registration fees do not include lodging or meals.  A list of Selma hotels is included with registration materials, and those who wish to attend are advised to make their hotel reservations as early as possible.
For more information, or to register online, visit the Board for Black Ministry Services Web site.  Or, contact WillaMae Winston at the Synod’s Black Ministry office in St. Louis at (800) 248-1930, Ext. 1751, or

Posted Feb. 15, 2006

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