The Board of Christian Education
It is the tradition and practice of Cornerstone Baptist Church,
through the Board of Christian Education, to begin its fall
program(s) with the continued EDUCATION OF THE PEOPLE OF
CHRIST. The Board of Christian Education Institute
is held annually beginning on the fourth Sunday in September,
which is Christian Education Sunday. The following week,
classes are held from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. followed by an
Inspirational Message delivered by The Reverend Frederick
D. Haynes, III, Pastor of the Friendship West Baptist Church,
What is the history of the Board of Christian Education?
When did it begin? Who were/are its leaders? What
are its GOALS AND OBJECTIVES? These questions
will be addressed in a two part series:
- Inception and Organizational Development 1960-1980
Mrs. Georgia L. Gayden/Mr. William H. Shell.
- Evolution and the Future, 1980-1995
Mrs. Lucy T. Davis/Mrs. Eartha Washington
The history of a church is based on its faith in God and
the spiritual evolution of the boards, auxiliaries, clubs,
groups and organizations within that institution. The
richness of that history may be defined by the dedication
and commitment of its members and their willingness to grow
and change with the needs of its membership and the wider
community. It is written that "Christian Education as
an organized process provides the community of faith opportunities
to grow, to explore theological understandings of the history
and traditions of our faith." It distributes literature,
guided by the Bible, which is the curriculum for the study
of information with its implications for the Christian lifestyle.
At Cornerstone, according to Mr. William H. Shell, Chairperson
of the Board from 1973-1983, and Mrs. Lucy T. Davis, Chairperson,
1984-1992, plus those that have kept an active diary across
the years (Reverend Henry G. Scott, Mrs. Inez Marcus, and
Mrs. Laneda Jeffries, among others) CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
continues to play an intricate and active role in the religious
life of the BODY OF CHRIST.
The seed of this giant Christina Education initiative came
into existence when Dr. Sandy F. Ray came to Cornerstone in
1944 and found a spiritual environment conducive
to new and fresh ideas. As the migration of rural African
Americans from the south and southwest continued in the 1950's
and 1960's, the membership of Cornerstone grew. It became
apparent to Dr. Ray that there was a growing need for spiritual
training and education in organizational and leadership skills
if Cornerstone was to take its place as a guiding light, set
standards in Christian training and leadership, and become
one of the leading churches both on the local and national
Christian church level.
With the dedication and support Sunday School Superintendent,
Cyril A. Davis, 1932-1973, Baptist Young People's Union
(BYPU, B.T.U., now Nurture For Baptist Churches (NBC) Director
Ollie Fraley, 1957 to present, Dr. Ray appointed Mrs. Georgia
L. Gayden as the FIRST CHAIRPERSON of the Board
of Christian Education - 1960-1972. Mrs. Gayden, also
a member of the National Board of Christian Education and
an officer on the New York City YWCA, organized the Board's
membership and annual classes were held around such themes
as "Growing As Christians," and "The Mission of the Church."
God removed Mrs. Gayden in 1972, but the seed had grown into
a small plant and formalized Christian Education had become
a reality in Cornerstone. A new era was about to begin.
In his report entitled, DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
AT CORNERSTONE BAPTIST CHURCH - 1973-1983, Mr. William
H. Shell stated that Dr. Ray expressed "serious concern regarding
the direction and programs of Christian Education" (especially
Christian Education Week) and asked Mr. Shell to "revitalize
and develop the program." As a result of that conference,
Trustee Shell became the SECOND CHAIRPERSON of the
board in 1973.
The major challenges facing the new leader were threefold.
First, the importance of broader church involvement in Christian
Education. Second, placing the organization on a firmer
financial basis. Third, attracting and securing the
caliber of talents (inside and outside of Cornerstone) that
would sustain the board's efforts through all of its program-ming
over a long period. He began by holding a series of
conferences with Dr. Ray, the leaders of all groups, soliciting
their input regarding the effectiveness of the Board.
The Reverend Stanley W. Kemp, Director, Dean, and an authority
on Christian Education was asked to join as a consultant and
advisor to the Board. The major emphasis would be teacher
training for the Church School, B.T.U., and Missionary Society,
plus Christian Education Week.
During his tenure, the Board developed a program of effective
public relations that centered on personal appearances by
the Chairperson to all groups, distribution of
brochures, exhibits, posters, all utilized to interpret and
dramatize the importance of Christian Education in a church
family. More than one hundred church members were active
as full or part-time participants in the Board's planning
sessions. Dues were instituted. Workshops, conferences
and educational retreats were held. Annual emphasis
utilized the themes of the National Baptist Congress of Christian
Education. One of the more powerful was "BIBLICAL
IMAGES FOR CONTEMPORARY CULTURE" 1975.
Courses of study were developed and instructors (pastors,
teachers, and church lay specialists) were interviewed and
many accepted the position(s). Distinguished teachers
included the Reverend Doctors Sandy F. Ray, Harry S. Wright,
Johnny R. Youngblood, Warren Stewart, Calvin Butts, Wyatt
T. Walker, and Regent Adelaide Sandford).
Course offerings included, "Maintaining A Wholesome
Relationship Among Groups In the Church," "What Do I Believe?,"
Christian Attitude Toward Death, God and Salvation," and
"Training Young People For Christian Leadership."
Dr. Sandy F. Ray passed in 1979. From 1979-1982 The
Reverend Henry G. Scott led Cornerstone Baptist Church. Dr.
Harry S. Wright began his ministry at Cornerstone in March
1982. Nonetheless, under Chairperson Shell's leadership
the direction of the Board continued to be positive, especially
with the cooperation and support of Board members.
From 1973-1983, registration for Christian Education Week
increased from 100 to 210. Courses were redesigned to
meet the cross section of needs and experiences of the participants.
Other churches were invited and enthusiastically attended.
Course completion certificates were presented to participants
from 1973-1976, and in 1977 the first graduating class numbered
twenty-six. (GOD'S TRUTH WAS MARCHING ON.)
At the end of his tenure, Mr. William H. Shell looked toward
the future of the Board and envisioned the following:
- The need for a clearer relationship between the Board
and the total Church Family,
- A firmer financial structure which would allow for expansion
of the total program, and
- Finally, year round Christian Education and broad-based
Teacher/member training beyond the limits of the Church
School, Nurture For Baptist Churches, and Missionaries.
The Board of Christian Education oversees the entire educational
program of the church.
Its members will seek to inject and influence an educational
attitude and commitment into every organization of the Church
- The Board supervises and administers the entire educational
program of the church. It coordinates the education
work of the church.
- It is responsible for discovering, enlisting, training
and recommending for appointment all church education workers.
- The Board surveys the educational possibilities for the
- The Board studies and recommends courses, techniques and
educational materials for the Church School and other church
- The Board selects and recommends teachers and officers
for all educational agencies in the Church Family.
- The Board makes recommendations where educational problems
- In light of the social and educational levels and backgrounds
of the children in the church, it seeks curricular and instructional
materials to meet their needs.
- A strong Board maintains interest, insight, and general
supervision of the following:
- The Church School;
- Vacation Bible School
- Special Programs, such as Brooklyn Anniversary Day;
- Youth Fellowship;
- Nurture For Baptist Churches;
- Weekly Bible Classes;
- Young Adult Class/Singles Class;
- Church Nursery;
- Annual Christian Education Week;
- New Members Orientation Class;
- New Teachers Training Class;
- The Cinema Club;
- Black History Month Emphases;
- Male Mentoring Program (Sons of Man)
- Tutorial or After School Remedial Program