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New leader elected to US National Baptist Convention

Published:Sunday | September 7, 2014 | 9:00 AM

NEW ORLEANS (AP):

A Jackson, Mississippi, pastor has been elected the new president of the National Baptist Convention, United States (US), Inc, the largest group of black Christians in the US.

Reports oft of the US say the Reverend Jerry Young, the group's former vice-president, emerged from a pack of five candidates to succeed The Reverend Julius Scruggs, of Huntsville, Alabama, whose five-year term ended last Friday.

Young, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson since 1980, said he will seek to push the convention in new directions and expand its profile, with its leaders becoming regular voices in the public.

"The community needs to be able to hear from the faith community," said Young. "The church has got to be socially responsible. ... The Bible says that Jesus went about doing good - preaching, teaching and doing good - to all the people, whether they were saints or sinners."

Scandal

The convention has emerged from its scandal of 15 years ago, when then-president Henry Lyons was found guilty of misappropriating US$4 million in convention funds, including money donated by a Jewish group to rebuild black churches burned by arsonists in the South.

Lyons' successors worked to build back the convention's reputation, but the membership, currently estimated at seven million, has been stable rather than rising.