SBC21 Conference celebrates congregations; equips congregations, leaders


The 2017 SBC21 Leadership & Development Conference was celebrated Feb. 18 in Dublin with more than 65 people in attendance.

Bishop R. Lawson Bryan, episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference; Dr. Buddy Cooper, Northwest District Superintendent; and Rev. Don Adams, on behalf of the North Central District, brought greetings and appreciation for the program and to the churches. Keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Emanuel Cleaver, III, from St. James UMC in Kansas City, Mo., shared his philosophy of the essentials of pastoral ministry (taken from his book, “Pastor on Track”), visioning, leadership development, teaching/preaching, and discerning God’s will.

Other presenters included SBC21 coaches Rev. Dr. Yvonne Penn of First UMC in Hyattsville, Md. and Rev. Michelle Morton, SBC21 Coordinator, Collaborative Coaching Network in Tennessee, who provided strategies for ministry, partnership collaboration, and the value of SMART goals. Rev. Dr. Vance Ross, Annual Conference Relations/Strategist for Vital Congregations, Discipleship Ministries, shared discipleship ministry resources. Rev. Dr. Fred Allen, Director, SBC21, Nashville, Tenn., expounded on the positive effect of SBC21 partnerships and provided next steps for partnering.

SBC21 program participant Rev. Cleo Gilchrist, pastor of Grace UMC in Brunswick, gave result-driven program testimonials, and Rev. Antonie Walker, pastor of Grace Corner UMC in Macon, provided new ministry developments and fresh insights.

Rev. Denise Walton, Assistant to the Bishop for Connectional Ministries, shared an appreciation for program participants, coaches and other associates. The churches that completed or made successful strides in the program and their Smart Goals were awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Congratulations to these recipients: Asbury UMC, pastored by Rev. Doreen Smalls; Grace UMC, pastored by Rev. Cleo Gilchrist; Howard Chapel UMC, pastored by Rev. Antonio Sutton; and St. Andrews/Horse Creek UMC Charge, pastored by Rev. Debora Richards.

The SBC21 Leadership & Development Conference was a great celebration, informative experience, and a time of spiritual fellowship!

Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century provides coaching and vision planning for local congregations and is available for eligible African-American churches.

For more information or to inquire about eligibility, contact Rev. Earnestine Campbell at

Click here to view photos from the event