2021 Guest Speakers

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Dr. Marcus Allen, Sr.

Rev. Dr. Marcus Allen Sr. is the Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, which is the largest African American church in Madison, WI.

Dr. Allen served honorably in the United States Army for over 10 years and received the Bronze Star Medal which is one of the highest military honors and as well as numerous other awards.

He is a graduate of the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University with a Masters’ of Divinity. Dr. Allen received his Doctor of Ministry Degree from
Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. 

Dr. Allen has a tremendous desire for God's word coupled with a love for God's people. He is passionate about proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, making the Word of God relevant in the lives of believers, and building the Kingdom of God in the congregation and community.

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Dr. Mark Croston

National Director of Black Church Partnerships at LifeWay Christian Resources.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He received a Master of Divinity Degree with a concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Reverend Croston completed his studies and earned the Doctor of Ministry degree, concentrating in Christian Education, at Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia.

God called Dr. Croston to the preaching ministry. He was licensed by the Christian Mission Fellowship Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and later ordained by that same body. After 26 years of successful pastoral ministry, Dr. Croston, in response to the call of God, transitioned to serve as National Director of Black Church Partnerships at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee.

In the denomination Dr. Croston serves or has served as President of the Baptist General Association of Virginia; President of the Virginia Baptist State Convention; Treasurer and President of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention; Member of the African American Advisory Committee for the SBC Executive Committee, Member of the Nominating Committee for the Southern Baptist Convention; President of the African American Fellowship SBC of Virginia; Financial Secretary, Sharon Baptist Association; and Moderator of the Portsmouth Baptist Association. He has also served as Chairman for African American Taskforces for NAMB, IMB and LifeWay.

His involvement in the community has included his work as Chairman of the Suffolk City School Board; member of Healthy People Healthy Suffolk Steering Committee; Civic Leadership of Hampton Roads; Suffolk City-wide MLK Day Celebration Committee; President, Suffolk Civic Forum; Vice Chairman of the Board of the Nansemond Credit Union; Board Member, Paul D. Camp Community College; member Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board Youth Council; and President, Suffolk Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

Dr. Croston believes as Henri J.M. Nouwen said, "Nobody can minister to his fellow man when he is unwilling to deny himself in order to create the space where God can do His work." (Creative Ministry, p.50)

Brenda Croston

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Dr. William Curtis

Rev. Dr. William Curtis is the Senior Pastor of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburg, PA where he has served since 1997. 

Dr. Curtis has been an instructor at the United Theological Seminary and has graduated several groups of doctoral students at the institution.  Aside from pastoral instruction, he is co-owner of The Church Online, a successful technology and full-service marketing firm that provides top-of-the-line services to ministries all over the world.

His Board relationships include the following organizations: Amachi Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Sports and Exhibition Authority, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, The Ellis School, the Interdenominational Theological Center, and the Baptist School of Theology. In addition, he served as President the Hampton University Minister’s Conference from 2007 – 2011. His fraternity memberships include: Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi, and Jericho lodge #20.

Dr. Curtis has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards. In 2009, he was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College. 

Dr. Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Morgan State University, a Master’s of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity, and a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

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Dr. Leo Endel

Dr. Leo Endel is the Executive Director of the  Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention where he has served since 2002.

He was unanimously elected to the position following a 10-year pastorate at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, which had exponential attendance growth under his leadership. He has also has served as president of the Baptist Convention of Iowa.

“Being a military kid, I grew up in a multicultural background,” Endel said. “I’m excited about how ethnically diverse the MWBC convention is.” In 1982 he graduated from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg with a double major in finance and business management. He received a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1988.

Becoming a state convention executive director was “the farthest thing from my mind,” Endel said, “But when I stopped and looked backward at the experiences God had led me through that I hadn’t paid much attention to, they all seemed to be pieces of the puzzle that was coming together. When I stood on the hill and looked backwards, I could see how those experiences could culminate in something like this. I have reached a point where I can see that this is where God was leading me all along.”

Among the qualities Endel brings to the position are a love for pastors and a passion for church planting, especially in communities that don’t have an evangelical witness.

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Dr. John R. Faison, Sr.

John R. Faison, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Watson Grove Baptist Church (The Grove), a growing, multigenerational, multisite church with campuses in Nashville, TN and Franklin, TN. The Grove endeavors to be “A GROWING church for GROWING people whom Christ will use in GROWING His Kingdom.”

A native of Boykins, Virginia, Pastor Faison holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, a Master of Arts in Practical Theology from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and a Doctor of Ministry from Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio.

In addition to his 23 years of ministerial experience, he is also a decorated veteran, having served as an US Army officer for eight years. 

Pastor Faison is blessed with influence that extends beyond the local church. He is a passionate advocate for community transformation and development, as seen in his work as an HIV/AIDS National Ambassador with the NAACP (theblackchurchandhiv.org), mentor in public school districts, and advisor to several community organizations. In denominational life, he serves as the Assistant to the Bishop of Social Action for the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship. In Nashville, he serves as President of The Grove Community Development Corporation and a member of the Boards of Trustees at Belmont University and Leadership Nashville. Academically, he is an adjunct professor at Payne Theological Seminary. Fraternally, he is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (Boule).

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Dr. George L. Parks, Jr.

The Reverend Dr. George Lewis Parks, Jr. is the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in North Little Rock, AR. 

He pursued his undergraduate studies at the American Baptist College in Nashville, TN where he was awarded the MLK Scholarship and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies/Pastoral Studies.

Dr. Parks’ thirst for spiritual growth led him to return to school and he earned his Masters of Divinity degree from Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, DC. There, he was awarded the prestigious J. H. Jackson Award for Promise in Pastoral Excellence. His sermon, “Black and Proud” has been published in the African American Pulpit journal.

In May 2016, he earned his Doctor of Ministry in Expository Preaching from Union University School of Theology and Missions.

God has given Dr. Parks a diversity of assignments throughout his ministerial career; God has shown His favor and anointing on Dr. Parks by allowing him to preach God’s word throughout the country, and by placing kind-hearted Pastors in his path. In return, Dr. Parks opens doors for other ministers.

Dr. Parks continues to build on the Legacy and Vision of the New Hope Baptist Church and its future continues to shine as the church moves into a new season of Building Faith and Sharing Love.