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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, Dallas, Texas.

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:

  1. Inception and Organizational Development 1960-1980
    Mrs. Georgia L. Gayden/Mr. William H. Shell.
  2. 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 Family.

  1. The Board supervises and administers the entire educational program of the church.  It coordinates the education work of the church.
  2. It is responsible for discovering, enlisting, training and recommending for appointment all church education workers.
  3. The Board surveys the educational possibilities for the entire church.
  4. The Board studies and recommends courses, techniques and educational materials for the Church School and other church groups.
  5. The Board selects and recommends teachers and officers for all educational agencies in the Church Family.
  6. The Board makes recommendations where educational problems are involved.
  7. 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.
  8. A strong Board maintains interest, insight, and general supervision of the following: 
    1. The Church School;
    2. Vacation Bible School
    3. Special Programs, such as Brooklyn Anniversary Day;
    4. Youth Fellowship;
    5. Nurture For Baptist Churches;
    6. Weekly Bible Classes;
    7. Young Adult Class/Singles Class;
    8. Church Nursery;
    9. Annual Christian Education Week;
    10. New Members Orientation Class;
    11. New Teachers Training Class;
    12. The Cinema Club;
    13. Black History Month Emphases;
    14. Male Mentoring Program (Sons of Man)
    15. Tutorial or After School Remedial Program
    16. Missionaries.
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