Featured photo: Dr. K.D. Yarber Sr., president of the Great Lakes District Baptist Leadership and Educational Congress
Written by Tanya Terry
The Great Lakes Baptist District Association has a long, rich history of great leadership and through it many initiatives have been launched and noted as the first of its kind.
The Great Lakes District Baptist Leadership and Educational Congress, the Christian education service of the Great Lakes District Association, has also been around for 69 years!
“We undergird, or in other words strengthen, the various different auxiliaries or parts of the church,” said Dr. K.D. Yarber Sr., president of the Great Lakes District Baptist Leadership and Educational Congress.
These parts can include missions, laymen, the Men’s Group and more, according to Yarber.
“There’s approximately 45 different congregations in the Great Lakes District Congress or in the association,” he said. “Usually, the number of people who will go to classes we’re teaching will reach between 500-750 people each year.”
There are 25 different classes being taught. Some of the classes offered include How to be a Strong, Black Christian Woman; The African American Church and Social Justice and People of Color in the Bible.
“While the Old and New Testaments are our foundation, we need to apply them to issues happening in our society today,” said Dr. Brenda Harrison, Congress dean.
“That’s what the new course offerings are attempting to do,” she added.
A criminal justice class will be offered by Rev. Ira Edwards. Harrison said this is because so many of our youth end up in the criminal justice system. Edwards will discuss how this system work, how it impacts our young people and older people, how to keep them from getting into the system-but, if they end up in the system-how to make it out of the penal system and be integrated into society.
Other onsite classes have traditionally been offered by the Congress. These course are considered foundation courses, according to Harrison. These classes include Survey of the Old Testament, Synoptic Gospels, Revelation, Christian Ethics and many more.
“These are things we should be striving to understand and know about the Bible and how to live as an effective Christian.”
Through the Certificate of Progress Program (called COP), students can work towards a certificate of completion for certain classes and for attaining a certain level of understanding.
These classes, particularly the ones that are onsite, are part of that program as well, according to Harrison.
Harrison said since we’re “still in a pandemic season,” the Congress is looking for ways to reach out to the community by offering classes both onsite and online. For example, Survey of Romans, will be taught online, which Pastor Floyd Fuller has been teaching for approximately 10 years.
“Some people haven’t gone back to their own churches yet because of the pandemic,” she said. “So, those who are not comfortable gathering or concerned about their health conditions can still participate.”
Those who take part in online classes will also receive a certificate of participation and may be eligible to receive a course card if they attend classes Monday-Friday without absence, as well as those who take classes onsite being able to do so.
In addition, a Biblically-based Basics of Self Care class will be offered as a hybrid class and taught by Renita Bingham. Bingham will offer strategies on how to rejuvenate the spirit and mind to be ready for what life may bring.
Age appropriate workshops will also be offered for youth ages 5-10, 11-13 or 14-18. Youth will also work on liturgical dance, the youth choir or the drama club.
“The Great Lakes District touches a lot of congregations or churches,” said Yarber.
He also said it is important for the District’s Christian education service to reach all ages.
He said the church affects the whole community, making it better and stronger-and teaches people about character.
“It just blesses the entire community.”
The 2022 Great Lakes District Baptist Leadership and Educational Congress will be held May 9-13, with onsite registration being held May 9, as well as online registration available. For details, visit https://www.greatlakesbda.org/congress-of-christian-education/registration.