2023 Guest Speakers
Dr. Mark Croston
Dr. Mark Andrew Croston, Sr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Three years after the death of his first wife, Dr. Croston married his current wife, Brenda. This blended family has four children; Candace, Juliette, Mark, Jr., and Antonio.
He is a sought-after Conference Presenter, Revival Preacher and a man on Mission, Dr Croston has traveled in almost 40 countries.
Dr. Croston served four years as Christian Education Director at the Christian Mission Fellowship Baptist Church is Philadelphia, PA; three years as Minister of Youth at the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, Kentucky; and twenty-six years as Lead Pastor, East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, Virginia. He currently serves as National Director of Black Church Ministries at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee; General Editor for the YOU Urban Bible Study curriculum; Executive Editor of Deacon Magazine; Teaching Pastor of Christ Fellowship, Miami, Florida; and Executive Pastor of Mount Gilead Baptist Church, Nashville, Tennessee. Additionally, Dr. Croston has been conferred the title of Pastor Emeritus of East End Baptist Church, Suffolk, Virginia.
Dr. Croston has served as President and Treasurer of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention; President of the Baptist General Association of Virginia; and President of the Virginia Baptist State Convention.
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)
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.