Liberia: Baptists Elect New corps of Officers

…  As Dr. Reeves calls for unity among Baptists

Conventioneers at the just ended 109th Annual Session of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention have re-elected Rev. Dr. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr., as President of the Convention, along with several other officials.  

Those elected alongside Dr. Reeves are Rev. Alonso J. Duncan, re-elected as National Vice President, and Rev. Robert Freeman, elected as Recording Secretary, replacing Deacon T. Martin Allen, who now serves as National Director of the National Baptist Men’s Fellowship. 

County Vice Presidents elected are Rev. Perrick Stephens of Montserrado County, Rev. Edwin Dorley of Bomi County, Rev. Adolphus Barr of Margibi County, Rev. Jenkins Bask Johnson of Nimba County, and Rev. David Vanyan of Grand Bassa County. Others include Rev. Omilford Nyah of Bong County, Rev. Kwiamle Elliott of Maryland County, Rev. Shelton Saylee of River Gee and Rev. David Barcon of Lofa County.

This year’s Annual Session, held under the theme “Renewal and Revival: Seeking God’s Presence in our mind”, brought together more than three hundred delegates from across the country. 

At the end of the Convention, a four-count resolution was adopted aimed at solidifying peace, unity and love among members; the procurement of identification cards for elected officials of the Convention, the continual review of the Constitution with the involvement of the various County Vice Presidents; the consolidation of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention schools into a one school system to ensure uniformity in instructions, doctrines and excellence. 

In his acceptance Speech, Dr. Reeves reiterated calls for unity in the Baptist Compact to ensure that the Convention moves forward for the greater good of Baptists across Liberia.  He planned to prioritize Evangelism in his second term to ensure that this pillar of the Convention meets its intended goal for which it was founded.   

Dr. Reeves is quoted as saying as part of his administration commitment to fostering peace and unity: “I, therefore, commit to you this day, at this place, in my second term as your 22nd President of this great Convention, that with prayers and supplications I will stop at no height, nor depth, I will engage every corner of our Convention in the North, West, South and East as God gives me power to reconcile our people, to heal the wounds, to bandage the sores and remove all scars, making us whole again”.

His pronouncement seeking reconciliation follows a two- day protest by some dissatisfied members of the Providence Baptist Association against Dr. Reeves presiding over the 109th Annual Session. The Providence Baptist Association (PBA) is one of the four Associations in the Baptist compact responsible to ordain and license ministers of the gospel. It was this Association, as per its jurisdiction, that ordained and licensed Dr. Reeves. The PBA members, through their Moderator, Rev. Quoibaye Wamah, protested that Dr. Reeves couldn’t preside over the Annual Session because, according to them, his license as a minister of the Gospel was revoked. Their protest led to a slow start of the Convention until the intervention of the Elder Council of the LBMEC, headed by President Joseph Boakai, intervened. 

However, in the midst of their indifferences, Dr. Reeves was re-elected unopposed. He promised that his administration will reconcile the Convention, which will set the pace in reconciling the nation. “There will be no witch-hunting. Everyone will be expected to live as a free Baptist in a free society. This administration offers unconditional Christ-like charity for all and malice towards none,” he emphasized. 

In one of his flagship programs in his first term, Dr. Reeves paid tribute to the late President of both Liberia and the Baptist Convention, William R. Tolbert, in whose honor the William R Tolbert Baptist University was established in 2022.  

“The William R. Tolbert Baptist University [is] named in sainted memory of one of Liberia’s remarkable citizens of the 20th Century; President, LBMEC; President of Liberia; First Black President of Baptist World Alliance; [and] President of the OAU (now AU),” Rev. Reeves said. “I take humble pleasure in announcing that the Baptist University is open and active. Because in Liberia from inception, Baptists have been at the High Table, even today an Honorable Baptist Deacon sits as Head of the High Table. With God’s help, this university is designed to intentionally prepare these young minds for the high table in Excellence and Godliness. We have every reason to believe that we, the Baptists, are blessed by God to be at the high table of our country. It is commonly said, “As the Baptists go, so goes the Nation.” What a befitting statement for the Cornerstone of the Nation, though negatively intended? Indeed, Baptists, not only the National Cornerstone but also the light of Liberia, planted on every hill, showing the way out of darkness, degradation and vilification. That light may seem to have faltered but continues to blink rather than shine. When Baptists continue the struggle and achieve reconciliation, so will the nation prosper”.

The Daily Observer has reliably learned that the earlier protest at the Opening of the 109th Annual Session by some of PBA members was triggered to obstruct plans by the Conventioneers against Dr. Reeves’ consistency to amend the LBMEC constitution by putting into place some structural changes to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in the work of the Convention. These changes, according to our investigation, will brush aside some traditional norms affecting the progress of the Baptist compact. As a result of these standoffs, the approval of the Constitution at this year’s Session was tabled to next year to afford a broader participation.  

Dr. Paul A. Coles, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, served as Guest Preacher for this year’s Annual Session, while the chair of the Elder Council, President Deacon Joseph Boakai, Sr, served as installing officer.