Reverend Olu Q. Menjay, president of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention (LBMEC), has called on fellow Baptists to shun vices that would degenerate into situations that would to divide the church.
For that, he challenged members of the Baptist denomination to work in unity, considering everyone as part of the body of Christ.
Rev. Menjay is also the vice president and chair on the Human Rights Advocacy Commission of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). He is the youngest ever elected to serve in that position, which is the largest Protestant body in the world.
Menjay spoke at the opening of the 103rd Annual Session of the LBMEC, Inc., which was held from Wednesday, April 26, to Sunday, April 30, 2017, at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Voinjama, Lofa County.
The convention was held under the theme, “A Mandate for Total Transformation,” with text from Romans 12:1-3. The theme song for the convention was the hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be.”
The Mount Carmel Baptist Church was founded in 1971 by the late William R. Tolbert Jr., former President of Liberia. Tolbert also served as president of the BWA and LBMEC. In 1975, Mt. Carmel hosted the Baptist Convention for the first time; the 103rd session was the church’s second.
Because the session was the single largest gathering of Baptists, Rev. Menjay used the occasion to call for a motion from the congregations to constitute the church’s bar, marking the official conduct of the first day’s business session.
This year’s convention, according to Rev. Menjay, brought together more than 300 Baptist churches from 11 of the 15 counties including Sinoe, Bomi, Maryland, River Gee, Bong, Margibi, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, and Montserrado.
In spite of the long distances some of the Baptists travelled to reach Voinjama, some local Baptists who were in Voinjama for the first time were excited and overwhelmed, being at the convention.
Also, the meeting of the National Woman’s Missionary Union (NWMU), an auxiliary of the LBMEC, Inc., presided by its national director Deacon Comfort H. Weaver, preceded the official opening of the convention. The NWMU meeting was characterized by inspirational sermons, biblical teachings, warm Christian fellowship and financial offerings. The women meaningfully contributed to the events forming the convention, including worshiping and fellowshipping together.
The first session was called to order by Rev. Menjay, who is also serving his second four-year term; Menjay succeeds a host of former presidents from 1880 to 2017.
The host pastor, Rev. David Barco, who warmly welcomed all to the convention, turned over the church to the convention for deliberations.
“Missions and education are critical to the overriding objectives of the convention,” Menjay said.
Annually, the convention observes two sessions, the mid and annual sessions, during which daily worship and fellowship are held, and financial offerings collected for the convention’s upkeep.
Menjay said the (five-day) 103rd session witnessed inspirational biblical teachings, spirit-filled preaching, and soul-lifting spiritual songs rendered by several choirs including the LBMEC Fellowship Choir, directed by Deacon Timothy E. Thomas.
Rev. Henry Nyonkor Sr., Pastor of the Shelloe Baptist Church in Foya, seconded Rev. Menajay’s motion by challenging the convention to work in unity and not to allow the devil to divide the Baptists.
On the second day, Rev. Sackie Y. Paye Sr., Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Louisiana delivered a sermon calling on the convention participants to present unto God their bodies as a living sacrifice by dedicating and setting themselves apart for God’s service and glory.
Jenkins Bask-Johnson, Pastor of the Mount Nimba Baptist Church in Yekepa, Nimba County, also delivered an inspiring sermon, which was followed by Reverend James H. Blaye, who kept his congregation applauding and shouting praises to God.
Under the theme, “A Compulsory Journey for Total Transformation,” Rev. Blaye, vice president for administration at the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary (LBTS), renewed the call for all Baptists to go beyond artificial barriers by putting the love of God and humanity first.
Jimmy C. Diggs, Pastor of Mount Galilee Baptist Church and past moderator of the Providence Baptist Association, did a power-point presentation on “The People Called Baptists: Our Emerging role in a Changing world,” with a historical leaning.
In addition to preaching and fellowship, worship and teaching, county vice presidents, and moderators of the Providence Baptist Associations from Calvary, Grand Gedeh, Nimba, Maryland, and the Eliza D. George, as well as national directors and learning institutions presented reports at the convention.
The reports were then turned over to the Resolution Committee constituted by Rev. Menjay.
High profile personalities who attended the Convention included (Deacon) Vice President Joseph Boakai, presidential hopeful Alexander Cummings, and Benoni Urey, first partisan of the All Liberian Party.
Meanwhile, the next convention will be held at the historic Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia.