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Topic: The rise and fall of Rev Henry Lyons, National Baptist Assoc
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

the big daddy weave

The Rise, Fall, and Return of Henry Lyons
Posted by big daddy weave on Jan 26, 2009 in Uncategorized

The Rise, Fall, and Return of Henry Lyons
While I was reading my Google Alerts, I came across this fascinating story:

Churches See Dip In Tithes, Offerings

Nowhere is the economic crisis more evident these days than in the Black church. With more people struggling financially and without jobs, less money is going in the collection plate. Theres also less grant money coming in from government programs to support longstanding faith-based community social services.

For the General Baptist Convention of Florida (GBCF), which makes up 180 churches, giving is down 30 percent to 40 percent, according to Dr. Henry Lyons, its president. When the convention met in December in Daytona Beach, the economy dominated the agenda.

The funds are not coming in and are down 30 to 40 percent on an individual church basis. I talk to pastors all over the country on a daily basis and they have reported a decrease in the giving. Many say the crowds are better but the offerings are fewer in terms of revenue. And one thing for sure people asking for help is way up, Lyons told the Florida Courier.

The thesis of this article (Tithing Down) is not what caught my attention. Giving is down in most Baptist churches. Although a 30%-40% percent deficit is um, staggering.

What caught my attention was the name of Dr. Henry Lyons who the article lists as the president of the General Baptist Convention of Florida.

Lyons was once a powerful voice in Black Baptist life. An extremely ambitious minister, Lyons became the first vice president of the Florida General Baptist Convention in 1977. The Florida General Baptist Convention is a state arm of the 7+ million National Baptist Convention USA Inc. which is the largest African-American denomination in the United States.

Shortly thereafter, Rev. Joseph H. Jackson aka the black pope, perennial president of the National Baptist Convention USA, named Lyons an assistant to the Rev. T.J. Jemison who served as the General Secretary of NBC USA. Lyonss role on the national scene helpe him to become president of the Florida General Baptist Convention in 1982 at the age of 40. A few months later, Lyons helped dethrone the Rev. Joseph Jackson (the man who had let Lyons in the National Baptist inner circle) from his position as president of the NBC, a position he had held since 1953. Lyons was rewarded by the new president, T.J. Jemison, with the position of vice-president of the NBCs Southeast region.

Lyons continued to be re-elected president of the Florida General Baptist Convention. In 1994, Lyons was elected president of the National Baptist Convention USA. As president, Lyons had access to the White House. The First Lady Hillary Clinton even attended one of Lyonss services at St. Petersburgs Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church, where he preached. Publicly, Lyons promised to bring reforms that would help alleviate NBCs financial struggles.

Stuff soon hit the fan for Lyons. In February 1998, Lyons was charged with one count of racketeering and two counts of grand theft. He was indicted by federal prosecutors for fraud, extortion, money laundering, conspiracy and tax exasion. Initially, Lyons claimed to be innocent and claimed there was a racial motivation for the charges. In 1999, Lyons was convicted sentenced to serve 5.5 years for misappropriating more than $4 million from the National Baptist Convention USA during his tenure as their president. Lyons stole more than $250,000 from the Anti-Defamation League that was meant to rebuild burned black churches.

According to Lyons successor, the Reverend William J. Shaw (who spoke at last years New Baptist Covenant), Lyons left the National Baptist Convention USA with a $900,000 past-due mortgage, $325,000 in other unpaid bills and financial obligations, and five lawsuits. Shaw also reported a 30 to 40 percent drop in the number of local Baptist churches registering with NBC USA and attendance at the convention-operated American Baptist College in Nashville had declined, all as a result of scandals involving Lyons.

After being locked up for nearly five years, Lyons was released from prison in late 2003. Four months later, Lyons was back in the pulpit as interim pastor of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida.

In 2007, Lyons entered the race for the presidency of the Florida General Baptist Convention. This time around Lyons (who was still on probation) was soundly defeated. However, Lyons did receive approximately 30 percent of the vote.

Subsequently, Lyons and his supporters formed the General Baptist State Convention of Florida of which Lyons is the President. The Lyons-led new convention lists 110 member churches with a combined 33,000 members. Here is their mission statement:

The General Baptist State Convention of Florida is a fellowship of pastors and churches working cooperatively to reach the lost and teach the saved. Our mission is to fulfill the work of Jesus Christ by helping churches accomplish their Biblical mission; providing channels for cooperative ministry in Florida and the world.

Its also worth noting that CREDIBILITY is one of the conventions core values. Ironic to say the least.

According to this unnamed source, Henry Lyons has been frequently mentioned as a candidate for the Presidency of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. for the 2009 election.


Last edited by untanglingwebs on Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:39 pm; edited 2 times in total
Post Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:21 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Dr. Aaron Weaver is a blogger, author, editor, advocate and historian who writes at the intersection of religion and politics. He lives in Atlanta, Ga., with his wife and two children.
Post Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:23 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

National Baptist Leader Sets Agenda : Leadership: The Rev. Henry J. Lyons, elected president of largest U.S. black church, says African Americans need to make themselves felt economically and politically.
September 17, 1994|From Associated Press



NEW ORLEANS A politically active pastor who says the black church should be a force to be reckoned with in Washington was elected to lead the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. Inc. into the third millennium.

The Rev. Henry J. Lyons, who headed the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns in Florida, was elected recently to a five-year term as president of the nation's largest black church.

At a victory celebration, Lyons vowed to work to increase the political and economic power of blacks.

"Our presence must be felt, must be made known and our counsel sought," Lyons said. "We've got to let it be known we will not be taken for granted."

Lyons, 52, a convention vice president and pastor of Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, received 3,545 votes to win the five-man race. The Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson, a pastor in the Westchester County, N.Y., town of Mt. Vernon and the convention's longtime general secretary, finished second with 3,014 votes.



The Rev. William J. Shaw, a Philadelphia pastor who is director of the ministers' division of the National Congress of Christian Education, finished third with 2,311 votes, while the Rev. C.A.W. Clark, a convention vice president and nationally known revival leader from Dallas, was fourth with 1,344 votes. A write-in candidate, the Rev. Jasper W. Williams of Atlanta, received 141 votes.

After the votes were announced, Richardson, Shaw and Clark promised to work with Lyons, who asked for their ideas in shaping a new Administration.

Lyons succeeds the Rev. T. J. Jemison, the Louisiana pastor who was prohibited from seeking reelection after 12 years in office.

The election of the convention's third president in 42 years comes at a critical juncture for black churches that are under increasing pressure to deal more aggressively with AIDS, violence, poverty and the dissolution of family life.

In 1961, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and some other civil rights leaders left the convention to help form the Progressive National Baptist Convention after their candidate lost a turbulent bid for the presidency.

"America continues to look to this group for leadership . . . and we've never offered them anything," Lyons said. "We want to turn that whole image around."

With an estimated 8 million members in 33,000 churches, the convention says it is the world's largest black organization.

Lyons says that when he was 11 his pastor told him he would one day be president of the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. Inc.

In 1966, during his seminary training at Morehouse School of Religion in Atlanta, "God quite emphatically gave me my marching orders."

Before he was married 23 years ago, he asked his wife if she could live with the rigors of being married to the head of the nation's largest black church. And prior to assuming the pulpit at Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Fla., he gave his congregation the same warning about his intentions.

*

So in a sense his successful bid to become the convention's third president in the last 42 years was a prophecy fulfilled.



Now comes the hard part.

Lyons takes over the convention presidency at a time when many black colleges are in trouble, black youths are turning to Islam in significant numbers, and drugs, crime and violence have reached a crisis stage in many communities where the convention's 33,000 churches are located.

"I come to this moment with a lot of humility," he said. "I really do have a sense of service."

Having received just over a third of the total vote, the first thing Lyons did after his victory was announced was pray for unity.

"I don't have a minute for reprisal," Lyons said in a later interview. "We've got to hit the ground running."

In restructuring the convention, the Florida pastor has said he wants to expand the Home Mission Board to address issues such as AIDS, economic discrimination and other issues of importance to black Americans.

On the political front, Lyons said the convention will be a more active force in Washington, working closely with the President and groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus.

"We've got to let it be known we will not be taken for granted," Lyons said.

Lyons said he would like to see the convention take the lead in helping to develop mentoring programs that pair adult church members with youths in the community.

"I don't mean some football player. I mean some John Doe who gets up to go to work every morning," Lyons said. "We have to get to our children. That's our first priority."

Another priority promised by Lyons is to increase financial aid to struggling black schools.

"Our black colleges are closing at an alarming rate," Lyons said. "We've got to get in and bail those schools out."

But to finance his proposals and to make the church a major player on the American religious scene, Lyons says, the convention is going to have to reach a lot deeper into the tills of its 33,000 churches.

To replace the current system in which churches pay a set fee ranging from $100 for smaller churches to $1,200 for the largest churches to register with the convention, Lyons is proposing a system more like the Southern Baptist Convention, in which churches give a percentage of income to a national cooperative program.

The money will come, Lyons said, as the convention also offers its members regular, audited financial reports that show how the money is being spent.

"Financial responsibility and integrity will be a hallmark of the Lyons' Administration," said the Rev. Roscoe D. Cooper Jr. of Richmond, Va., the new general secretary of the convention.
Post Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:12 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

On August 7, 1994, the Associated Press (Philadelphia) (Baptists at the Turning Point) wrote about the four candidates vying for the Presidency of the National Baptist Association.

The 1950's-1960's had seen a lot of controversy and the President Joseph Jackson did not support the Civil Rights movement. The AP story brought up a 1961 battle over the Presidency they called an "apocalyptic tragicomic fracas- part Holy Spirit, part wrestling match".

In Kansas City as many preachers actually were said to have "shoved and slugged one another for control of the church." During the brawl, the Rev. A. G.Wright fell off the stage and died.

When the battles ended, the President was the Rev. Joseph Jackson who defeated the candidate supported by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev Gardner Train of New York. Thus the National Baptist Association basically sat out the Civil Rights movement.
Post Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:34 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Additional sources cite this election as creating a schism.when in 1961 , a group led by L. Venchael Booth formed a new convention,the Progressive National Baptist Convention, at Zion Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. This group supported M. L. King's Southern leadership Conference.

Candidate William J. Shaw, a 27 year Civil Rights activist, told the AP that the National Baptist Association "missed a great opportunity" An 33 years later Shaw was hoping to make it right. Shaw was Pastor of the White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia.

Shaw drew parallels between the 60's enemy of political inequality and the new foe of economic inequality. This he believed spawne the plagues of drugs, AIDS, black-on-black violence and the dissolution of the black family.
Post Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:55 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The Convention had a history that the AP called a Shakespearean intrigue because of the manipulation for leadership led to tenure that was only overcome by age and infirmity.

Rev. T. J.Jemison had been President for 12 years and his father, D.V. Jemison had been President from 1941 until 1953. It was not until he was blind and in failing health that Joseph Jackson was able to force him out of office.

In 1984,a rule was made that limited the Presidency to two five-year terms in 1984. However time passe and jemison made no indicaton that he would step down. It was believed by many that the 74-year ol Jemison, who had spent 9 years serving as the General Secretary until he could oust Joseph.

January 1990 Jemison announced that boxer Mike Tyson was offering $5 million o help pay for the Baptist Convention Center. That year's convention had the Baptist organization giving Tyson's fight promoter, Don King, the groups highest spiritual award, The Cross and the Crown Award.


Last edited by untanglingwebs on Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:18 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Jemison continued to support Tyson and even offered"hush money" of a million dollars to the rape victim and her parents. Jemison denied the money offer when he served as a character witness in a savings and loan fraud trial. Unfortunately for Jemison, the prosecutor had tapes of the conversations of the monetary offer and charged Jemerson with perjury. In 1993 the Federal Judge threw out the perjury charges as not relevant to the fraud case. However, the damage was done and there were increased that Jemison must abide by the tenure rules.

The convention crown was the $12 million World Baptist Center in nashville, Tenn. that Jemison calle "our Vatican."At the time, the center had no full-time employees , no newspaper and the President still ha to be a full time pastor of his church. Since only a few knew the financial situation of the convention, the candidates were unable to state how they would raise money for their proposals.

The general secretary of the convention at the time, Rev.W. Franklin Richardson, was the only candidate that knew the finances.
Post Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:41 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Rev. Henry Lyons was President of the Florida General Baptist Convention had a platform of addressing issues of AIDS, working to increase donations to black colleges and seminaries, as well as creating a powerful presence in Washington for funding low cost housing among other needs.

Lyons, one of four convention vice presidents, told the AP reporter their numbers and their standards were low as he complained about the large numbers of black men in prison that were becoming muslim and the church did nothing.

Lyons spoke at Antioch Baptist church and was a an evangelist for the citywide crusade. He also preached at a revival for Mt. calvary Baptist.

Lyons was the founder of the Ecumenical Council for Community Concerns, a group that feeds and shelters the homeless, and provides affordable housing for the poor.

Little was said about the candidate Rev. Caesar Clark of Good Street baptist Church in allas, except that he agreed the church must become more of an activist force.
Post Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:07 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Richardson, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York presented a vision of the "creation of a churchwide purchasing cooperative , boycotting cities and companies that do not meet affirmative action goals, and pressing for seats on the boards of directors of the major corporations with which the convention does business. ANational Baptist Bankwas included in his plans.

"We are now confronted with a new frontier-economic empowerment. The church has to lead the way for it's people." said Richardson. " I think we are a sleeping giant in some ways, but we are awakening."

Shaw agreed, but thought the awakening was a long time coming. While he stayed after the schism but continue to believe the convention is called by God to be the saving influence i the lives of black people. He had demanded that businesses in the 1950 hire more blacks and preached to hs congregation to refuse to patronize those businesses that did not
Post Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:37 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

At the time of the election ,Americans were looking at the role of the black church and the church was under fire for seemingly being powerless and impotent in the face of he social ills confronting them. Congregations were demanding a more activism in confronting poverty, joblessness ,violence and health issues.

The Revelator, the official newspaper of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit, carried a full page story on August 30 1994, when Lyons visited Detroit . Entitled "legendary Rev. Lonnie C. Cash leads Midwest to Lyons, the page highlighted the biography of Lyons.

Reverend Lonnie C. Cash was a former judge and the Pastor of the Historical Highway Baptist. Church.
Post Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:14 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Front page the Revelator

It would be nice if we could afford to elect our next President for sentimental reasons. However, with our families ans our communities in a STATE OF EMERGENCY.
We Need To Elect A Man Who Has The Vision---Vigor---Vibrancy
to lead us into the 21st Century

Dr. Henry J. Lyons
is leading the fight in Florida to restore our youth, our families, our neighborhoods, and our churches

FACT- Dr. Lyons has built a 160 acre Family Life Retreat Center which offers Drug Rehabilitation, Family Counseling Church Retreats, Leadership Training, Youth Development and Family recreation.
Post Sat Mar 10, 2018 12:29 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

FACT- Dr. Lyons has built over 100 brand new affordable homes for young Baptist families.

FACT- Dr. Lyons has launched a"GUN Buy Back"Program that has already netted more than 5,000 guns.

FACT- Dr. lyons has formed a financial partnership capable of financing churches all over the United States.

As You prayerfully choose your candidate, ask God to help you make your decision on FACTS ---NOT FEELINGS

VOTE LYONS
September 8, 1994 In New Orleans
Post Sat Mar 10, 2018 12:38 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Detroit Times December 1, 1994

A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city and attache the following message to his windshield I have circled this block 10 times. I have an appointment to keep, "Forgive us our trespasses".

When he returned to his car he found this reply attached to his own note along with a ticket; I've circled this block for 10 years. If I don't give you a ticket, I lose my job. "Lead us not into temptation.
Post Sat Mar 10, 2018 12:45 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Activist Pastor takes reins of nation's largest black church group
AP Flint Journal 9-9-94

The direction Lyons proposed to lead the National Baptist Convention was a bold step for the group that in the 1960's had rejected the Civil Rights movement.

Lyons vowed to work at 'increasing the political and economic power of blacks and to make the convention a force to be reckoned with in Congress and the White House". He proposed working with the Congressional Black Caucus and our friend in the White House (President Bill Clinton).

"Our presence must be felt, must be made known, an our counsel sought."

Lyons noted the convention was at a critical junction as as America had been looking for leadership against the mounting social ills and had not been offered anything.
Post Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:09 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The National Baptist Convention, with 33,000 churches claiming a membership of about 8 million claimed to be the largest religious group in the United States.

Lyons who had campaigned on a platform of "Raise the Standard". Isaiah 62,10, proclaimed that :God Ordained the Victory- a people's victory".

President Clinton visited the convention following the victory of Lyons as did Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom Lyons had worked for in Florida during Jackson's Presidential bid.

Christine Brown, of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Flint,was a campaign co-chair with Dr. Granville Smith for Lyons in Michigan. She was also named one of the member's for the President's Inaugural General Committee. Brown was joined by at the National Baptist Convention in New Orleans by other Antioch Church members Kerry Nelson and Linda Peterson.

Lyons voiced his appreciation for Chris Brown's efforts as well as the support of Dr Smith and Pastor Randolph
Post Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:27 pm 
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