WHY THE GALILEE GRIGGS MEMORIAL DISTRICT ASSOCIATION OF BAPTIST CHURCHES EXISTS
By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.
Servant/Moderator of the GGMDABC
Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church, Arlington, TX
Impacting the Next Generation for the Kingdom
I. INTRODUCTION AND TESTIMONIAL
Jesus established the church in order for the church to represent His Kingdom on planet earth. The church’s primary role is to be ambassadors of Christ’s Kingdom. Although the church and the Kingdom are not synonymous, they are interrelated and interdependent.
The theme of Jesus’ preaching was “the Kingdom of God.” Jesus said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” (Luke 4:43). If the stated purpose of Jesus’ preaching was to preach the Kingdom of God, should that not also be the theme of our preaching and teaching? In Matthew 10:7, Jesus said to his disciples, “And as you go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The church is a colony of the Kingdom of heaven on earth, assigned with the responsibility to preach the Kingdom of God throughout all the earth (Matthew 24:14). Jesus gave the keys of the Kingdom to the church so that the church would be vested with the authority to take the mission, message, ministry, and mandate of Jesus into all the world.
A Kingdom movement of churches can cooperatively fulfill the assignment that Jesus gave to the church to advance His Kingdom to the ends of the earth, far better than any one church can do separately.
The Cornerstone Baptist Church of Arlington, TX, joined the Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association of Baptist Churches in 2006, because we wanted to be a part of a larger Kingdom movement. We wanted to experience a Kingdom family where there was heartfelt identification. We wanted to be a part of a Kingdom family where we shared a common vision, values, and a Kingdom worldview. We longed to be connected to a family where unity exists, but, where they did not require uniformity on secondary and tertiary issues.
I have fond memories of associational gatherings in my native state of Arkansas. We wanted to join an Association of Churches that felt like home. We found the family that we were looking for in Galilee Griggs Association. I joined Galilee Griggs with zero aspirations to serve in leadership at any level. Succinctly stated, we simply were looking for a family. If God had wanted something other than a family, He would have had us to call Him something other than a Father. What a wonderful thing it is to be a part of the larger family of God! The Galilee Griggs Association is a Kingdom Family Fellowship of Churches dedicated to disciple-making in order to expand God’s Kingdom, edify God’s people, and empower the next generation to glorify the King and make His praise glorious.
In June 2014, one of the biggest surprises of my life occurred when I was asked and encouraged by leading pastors in the Association to run for Moderator. The upcoming election was to be held on October 1, 2014, at the Annual Session held in Fort Worth at the Community Baptist Church, Rev. Robert McGinty, Pastor. In National Baptist life, the Moderator and Director of Missions are one in the same office. Previously, I held no elected position or office of any kind in the Association. I felt most unqualified and unworthy to serve as Moderator. But after 21 days of prayer and fasting concerning the matter, I received a “green light” from God to run for the office of Moderator. I was committed to seeking God concerning His will in the matter for 40 days before I gave an answer to those asking me to run. After receiving the “green light” to run after 21days, I then spent the remaining 19 days making peace with losing.
The Lord reminded me during the remaining 19 days that it was not about me. It was about Him. It was not about my ego, reputation, or feelings, if I lost. It was solely about whether or not it was his will for me to run. During that time, I made peace with not only running, but losing the election. But as God would have it, the vote count was 93-40 in my favor on October 1.
My opponent was and is affable, formidable, fruitful, friendly, effective and prayerful. We have become great friends and prayer partners. He will fill in Cornerstone’s pulpit in December, while I’m away serving as a guest preacher in Tallahassee, FL. Galilee Griggs is a family. And the fellowship in the family is sweet. I was not convinced that I was going to win the election for Moderator on October 1, but I did know that no matter who won, the Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association of Baptist Churches would have been well served. I have the utmost appreciation and respect for Rev. A.C. Stapleton. As the 1st Vice Moderator, Rev. Stapleton led the Association in prayer for the new Moderator, when the election results were announced. What a class act! Rev. Stapleton has been one of my strongest supporters thus far since the election. Galilee Griggs is truly a Kingdom Family.
On Sunday, December 7, 3:00 p.m., at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Plano, TX, all four zones and the 32 churches that comprise the Galilee Griggs Association will meet together. We are calling this service “The Gathering: A Celebration of Unification.” At “The Gathering,” as the newly elected Moderator, I will cast a vision for the future of our Association.
At present, the primary Kingdom benefits that Galilee Griggs offers are fellowship and family. Family and fellowship is the cry, desire and need for many in America and around the world today. According to Bart Barber, who holds a PH.D. in Church History from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, when Baptist Associations were first formed in England in the late 1600’s the primary reason for forming Associations was to provide fellowship for Baptist believers and church leaders. The need for fellowship for the British Baptist was driven in part by the rejection and persecution that they sometimes experienced in the larger Anglican Church culture.
Ironically, Black Baptist Associations in America were formed for that very reason—a need for family and fellowship. They faced rejection and persecution quite often from their fellow White Baptists. Therefore, they formed their own churches and associations. The rejection and racism exhibited toward Black churches, that led to the formation of Black churches and associations in America are well documented in Paul Wayne Stripling’s Dissertation, “The Negro Excision From Baptist Churches In Texas (1861-1870).” Stripling’s dissertation was presented to the faculty of the School of Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX, in May 1967.
There are pastors and churches today who still seek family and fellowship in Baptist Associations as they did in England and in America at the onset of Baptist Organizational life. The Galilee Griggs Association is standing in the gap prepared to fulfill that need today. There are pastors and churches who are inquiring about becoming a part of the Galilee Griggs Association who are looking—as I was—for family and fellowship. But many are also looking for corporate mission’s opportunities, leadership training, and discipling and mentoring in various aspects of church life and spiritual development, biblically-based Kingdom justice ministry, practical ministry enhancements, church-planting partnerships and more. Therefore, I present this introductory/promotional publication to those pastors and churches that may have an interest in joining the Galilee Griggs Family. We also present this document to those churches in our Association who ask, “Why does Galilee Griggs exist? And, what are the relevance, significance and value of Galilee Griggs to the local church.”
II. MISSION/PHILOSOPHY/THEOLOGY OF MINISTRY AND GOALS STATEMENT
The Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association of Baptist Churches exists to partner with local churches in North and Central Texas [and beyond] to advance God’s Kingdom agenda cooperatively—around the corner—and around the world.
- To fulfill God’s Kingdom agenda, it is our goal to offer intensive quarterly Bible/theological studies, and fellowship periods to train leaders in things pertaining to the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
- To fulfill God’s Kingdom agenda, it is our goal to host an annual summer, dynamic, disciple-making event where Kingdom men, women, youth, and children are trained corporately and compartmentally.
- To fulfill God’s Kingdom agenda, it is our goal to assist local churches to plant disciple-making churches locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.
- To fulfill God’s Kingdom agenda, it is our goal to offer summer camp experiences for children and youth designed to edify them in the faith.
- To fulfill God’s Kingdom Agenda, it is our goal to plan and implement annually, a regional, national, and international mission’s trip opportunity in order to obey the Great Commission. We plan to partner with ministries who are already successful in doing so to make this a reality.
- To fulfill God’s Kingdom agenda, it is our goal to seek renewal and revitalization in the life of our churches by providing mentoring and discipling to church leaders in the areas of church growth/health and development and church revitalization.
- To fulfill God’s Kingdom agenda, it is our goal to provide numerous scholarships to college, seminary, and graduate school students, and to the various schools who are committed to fulfilling God’s Kingdom agenda. We exist to impact the next generation for the Kingdom of God.
- To fulfill God’s Kingdom agenda, it is our goal to address biblically Kingdom justice issues as we are led by the Spirit of God.
Disciple-making is the primary agenda of God’s Kingdom. The only legitimate purpose for an Association of Churches to exist is so that we can do more together than we could separately to advance God’s Kingdom agenda.
God’s universe centers around His Kingdom. At the heart of His Kingdom is His dear Son. His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom. His Kingdom is to rule over all. The Holy Spirit is the governor and guide in His Kingdom. Christ is the King and embodiment of God’s Kingdom. He is the King Incarnate. The Bible refers to believers as citizens and ambassadors of His Kingdom.
God’s Kingdom is eternal. God’s Kingdom is universal. God’s Kingdom is supernatural. God’s Kingdom is practical. God’s Kingdom is relational. The Kingdom of God is God’s total answer for man’s total needs. Seeking the Kingdom and His righteousness is our first and foremost responsibility as a Kingdom citizen. The Kingdom of God is simply the rule of God, and the reign of God, in every realm of life—individual, family, church, and society. Believers are born again into the Kingdom of God, which makes available, or accessible to us “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). The Kingdom of God is an experience of a vital relationship with Jesus Christ the King, and His Kingdom. Galilee Griggs belongs to and is grateful to be a part of Christ’s Kingdom family.
III. GALILEE GRIGGS PROPOSED DOCTRINAL CONFESSION AND STATEMENT OF COOPERATION
The Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association of Baptist Churches has never formally adopted an official Doctrinal Statement. It is assumed that we all embrace the Doctrinal Statement of the National Baptist Convention—I certainly do.
However, we need to be able to say to churches interested in joining us, as well as to those on board, what are the basic belief systems that we have. I offer a big tent belief system for inclusion, rather than a narrow rigid belief system that leads to exclusion. I am proposing the following Statement:
1. We affirm the authority, sufficiency, reliability, and consistency of God’s infallible revelation to man in both the Words of Holy Scripture and the Person of Jesus Christ.
2. We affirm that the one true God exists eternally in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that these, being one God, are equal in deity, power, and glory. We further affirm both the full humanity and deity of Jesus Christ, the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, and the eternal love of the Father for the world.
3. We affirm Christ’s virgin birth, substitutionary death for sinners, His resurrection from the dead, His second coming, and His gift of eternal life to all who are in relationship with Him by grace through faith alone.
4. We affirm that God has ordained the proclamation of the gospel message by His people in the power of the Holy Spirit, who is both the gift of God to the church and the giver of diverse spiritual gifts. We also affirm baptism as the public testimony for those who have come into covenant relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
5. We affirm that those apart from a relationship with Christ will face God’s judgment.
The sole authority for faith and practice among the Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association of Baptist Churches is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Doctrinal confessions, including this one, are only guides to interpreting the Bible, and have no authority over the conscience. Christians have historically differed in interpretation on finer points of doctrine not essential to Christian faith. Yet, with all our differences on secondary issues, we who comprise the Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association of Baptist Churches desire to cooperate in ministry because of our love for the gospel.
Therefore, we intentionally put aside our differences on secondary issues for the sake of cooperative gospel ministry. We desire unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials, but charity in all things. This statement of cooperation defines the necessary essentials which must be affirmed in order to participate in the cooperative ministries of the Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association of Baptist Churches.
We desire to send to the world and our evangelical brethren through this statement of cooperation a sure and certain message: It is the gospel that unites us, and what unites us is greater than anything that might potentially divide us. Because the Kingdom supersedes us being Baptist, we propose to cooperate and fellowship with and welcome into our membership any Bible-believing church who could affirm our doctrinal statement and statement of cooperation…but who may not carry our Baptist label. Because the Kingdom supersedes our racial origins, we must welcome churches and people of all racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds who affirm Jesus as Lord, and share our Baptist and Biblical conviction and our Kingdom identity.
IV. BRIEF HISTORY AND VISION OF THE GALILEE GRIGGS ASSOCIATION
The Galilee Griggs Association may be able to find a blueprint for her future by looking at the foundations of her past. Names matter. The meaning of names is significant. The Hebrews and Africans historically have tended to name their children with intentionality; understanding that every time you call a person’s name, in a sense you are reinforcing or pronouncing affirmation relative to the meaning of the names.
“The Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association”—which was the original official name—is the combination of two Associations. “The Griggs Memorial Baptist Association” was organized in 1929, at Hopewell Baptist Church, Denison, Texas. This Association was named in honor of Rev. A.R. Griggs, a prominent pastor and educator who served primarily in North Texas and whose lifespan covered from 1850-1922. Dr. Griggs was born into slavery. In 2004 the “Herald Democrat”—the local Denison, TX, newspaper headline reads: “Griggs looms large in church history.” His accomplishments are too numerous to list them here, but suffice it to say, that he founded the first high school to educate African Americans in Dallas. He founded the first newspaper targeting African Americans in Texas. He was the co-founder of Bishop College, Dallas; Co-founder of American Baptist Theological Seminary, Nashville—then named—The National Baptist Theological Seminary and Training School. He organized more than 50 churches, including the historic and influential Good Street Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. Dr. Griggs, who is referred to as “Bishop Griggs” in a “History of Negro Louisiana Baptists from 1804-1914” by William Hicks—was truly a pioneer. Hicks’ book was published by the National Baptist Publishing Board in 1915. “Bishop A.R. Griggs” is mentioned by Hicks as “Superintendent of Missions” and “State Evangelist” of the Texas State Convention in the early years of Black Baptist organized work in Texas.
He was born in Hancock County, GA, in 1850 and sold at auction and brought to Texas when he was 9 years old. He entered school for the first time when he was in his 30’s. He co-founded Bryan’s Orphan Home, a home for orphaned African American Children in Texas. He formed a working relationship with Dr. R.C. Buckner and Rev. L. W. Coleman, Southern Baptist Texas leaders—in the early 1900’s—to work in a cooperative mutually reciprocal beneficial way for Texas National Baptist and Southern Baptist. An eight-acre city park is named after him in Uptown Dallas, which will include a statue in memory of him. Griggs “looms large in church history.” He was Moderator of the Northwest District Association for 20 years. He died in 1922, and seven years later a District Association was birth in his honor that comprised of churches then and now that range as far North as Denison and as far South as Corsicana. Rev. Griggs was granted an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Kentucky State University in 1891.
Griggs was ordained a missionary in 1873. He served as pastor of New Hope Baptist Church (Dallas’ oldest Black Baptist Church) in 1875, and was among the trustees of an 1879 purchase of Freedman’s Cemetery land. Alan Griggs impacted Dallas and all of North Texas, spiritually, socially, educationally and economically in an incredible manner. It is time for his namesake, the Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association, to rekindle his vision, missions, education, and evangelism which was his heartbeat.
In keeping with the spirit of Alan R. Griggs, the Galilee Griggs Association must focus on Christian education/disciple-making, church planting, benevolence, missions, church development, revitalization and networking with other Baptist and evangelical groups across racial lines for Kingdom building purposes.
In September 1929 at the Galilee Baptist Church in Ennis, Texas, another Association was organized in a meeting called by Rev. E. A. Evans, pastor of the Galilee Baptist Church in Ennis, Texas. The Association based in Ennis was named the Galilee Baptist Association.
In 1930, Rev. U.S. Patterson, pastor of the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Corsicana, Texas, invited the two Associations—Griggs Memorial Baptist and Galilee Baptist—to meet together at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Corsicana, Texas. There, the two Associations decided to merge, and the new name for this Association would be “Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association.” The Association was later incorporated by the State of Texas and revised its name to “Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association of Baptist Churches, Inc.”
At one point at least 78 churches were regular in attendance and registration in the Galilee Griggs Association. In the most recent Association, 32 churches registered and sent delegates.
Throughout her history, Galilee Griggs has supported the mission endeavors of the National Baptist Convention, given financial support to local Dallas Ministers Training Institutes; engaged in Haiti Children Mission projects, and supported the Shoe Drive, assisting The Buckner Children’s Home. 7.35 acres of land, located in Lancaster, Texas, has been purchased for future Kingdom expansion, during the tenure of Moderator Donald Parish.
There have been 11 Moderators who have served in the history of this Association:
• Dr. S.T. Alexander 1930-1934
• Rev. R.T. Andrews 1934-1938
• Rev. W.A. Sparks 1938-1942
• Dr. B.R. Riley 1942-1963
• Dr. F.D. Davis 1964-1969
• Rev. Robert L. Parish, Sr. 1969-1988
• Rev. A.F. Thomas 1988-1933
• Rev. C.S. Trimble September 1993 – November 1993
• Rev. E.D. Ingram 1994-2005; Moderator Emeritus – 2006-Present
• Dr. Donald Parish 2005-2014
• Dr. Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. 2014-Present
I am absolutely awestruck and inspired by the life and legacy of Dr. Griggs. “He being dead, yet speaketh.” He provides not only the inspirational foundation for our past, but also, the blueprint for our future. The Great Commission was given by Jesus at Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20). The names “Galilee” and “Griggs” are significant, and their significance can only be enhanced as those names are submitted to the Kingdom of God. The Galilee Griggs Association will continue to be a Kingdom Family Fellowship of Churches doing the King’s business and impacting the next generation until the King comes.
Our VISION is to plant, revitalize, disciple and minister to churches globally and locally, where we, together, press into God’s Kingdom, in the spirit of A.R. Griggs (Luke 16:16).
Denominationalism, although a part of the Kingdom, must bow to the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God supersedes denominationalism and race. Therefore, we must consider allowing churches that ascribe to our vision, value, and belief system an opportunity to join Galilee Griggs who may not carry our Baptist label or our African Race.
V. BENEFITS OF BELONGING TO THE GALILEE GRIGGS KINGDOM FAMILY
1. The blessing of belonging to a Kingdom brotherhood and sisterhood that provides all the benefits and require the responsibilities that are a part of belonging to a family (Psalm 133:1). Associations provide fellowships for churches who desire fellowship.
2. The privilege of being able to access some meaningful, relevant, dynamic, and insightful disciple training opportunities within the context of family relationships.
3. The privilege of being able to receive and give ministry to others within a familiar relational context.
4. Engage in opportunities to participate in local, regional, national, and international missions’ projects within a familiar relational context.
5. Once we secure the group tax exemption, member churches will have the legal protection and status of all charitable gifts of the church congregation being tax deductible because of membership in Galilee Griggs.
6. Partner with Texas Baptist Men and other mission partners for disaster relief and benevolent work.
7. Upon request provide support services to churches seeking counsel while the church is searching for a pastor, in need of conflict resolution, or engaged in doctrinal disputes.
8. To be able to receive consultation on best practices in local church ministry upon request.
9. To have highly successful and seasoned senior pastors available to mentor younger and less experienced pastors upon request.
10. To receive encouragement, counsel, and potentially financial support for churches seeking support for qualified church planters.
VI. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
The Galilee Griggs Association—a Kingdom Family Fellowship of Churches will soon be forming the following ministry teams to further develop and fulfill God’s Kingdom agenda for this Association:
Galilee Griggs Memorial District of Baptist Churches Proposed Ministry Teams
2. International Missions
3. Church Planting
4. Theological Education/Dialogue
5. Economic Empowerment
7. Social Justice
8. Stewardship/Financial Literacy
10. Executive Council
11. Women’s Ministries
12. Men’s Ministries
13. Worship Ministries
14. Leadership Training
15. Youth and Children’s Ministries
VII. CORE VALUES: GALILEE GRIGGS MEMORIAL DISTRICT ASSOCIATION OF BAPTIST CHURCHES
“As they ministered to the Lord.” (Acts 13:2)
“Now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them….and…..they sent them away.” (Acts 13:2, 3)
III. EDIFICATION/DISCIPLESHIP/THEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE/INTENSIVE STUDY
“so it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught many people.” (Acts 11:26)
Between 252 and 380 A.D. ten church councils were held as an outgrowth of the biblical Antioch Church school of thought in the city of Antioch that widely influenced the churches of that era.
IV. CHURCH PLANTING
“those who were scattered after the persecution … traveled as far as Antioch … And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord … and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch …. he … encouraged them all with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” (Acts 11:19, 21, 22, 23)
V. BENEVOLENCE/KINGDOM JUSTICE
“Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.” (Acts 11:29)
VI. MULTIETHNIC LEADERSHIP/FELLOWSHIP/PARTNERSHIPS
“Barnabas [Cyprus-European] Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, [African] Manean [Roman] … men from Cyprus and Cyrene … Hellenist [Greeks]. (Acts 13:1, 11:20)
VII. IMPACTING AND SERVING THE CURRENT GENERATION AND THE NEXT
“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;
One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. (Acts 13:36; Psalm 145:4)
Please pray with me that God breathe on Galilee Griggs and her vision. Know that GGMDA longs to provide a family and home to pastors and churches who desire a Kingdom family affiliation. Know that we long to be good stewards of your trust and gifts. Know that we are here to serve you. Your gifts will be used to fund and steward the vision. Feel free to contact us for more information. Contact either Dwight McKissic or Glorian Ford at our email addresses and church phone number listed below.
Thanks for reading this.
Humbly Submitted, For His Kingdom
Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.
Phone: 817.468.0083 ext. 205
5415 Matlock Road, Arlington, TX 76018