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.
Pastor Clinton McFarland
Pastor McFarland currently serves as the Founder and Senior Pastor of the Grace Baptist Church of Atlanta. It was in 2014 that the Lord began to speak to him in regard to stepping out on faith and establishing this church. Hungry for the anointed Word of God, hundreds of worshippers attended the first service on the last Sunday in November 2014.
The establishment of Grace Baptist Church of Atlanta is likened to an elect opportunity to reveal to God’s people just how much God will do when we trust and obey Him.
Pastor McFarland is highly respected among his peers as a preacher’s preacher. Over the years, he has been selected as the keynote speaker for many ministerial associations, alliances, and national organizations, including the prestigious National Baptist Conventions.
Graced with multiple gifts and talents, his platform for the ministry of the gospel has not been limited to the pulpit. He is a celebrated gospel recording artist and in addition to ministry through song.
Pastor McFarland is the author of “Life After Divorce–The Story of One Pastor’s Triumph over the Tragedy of Divorce.” Many individuals across the nation acknowledge that the release of this publication has brought welcomed healing and much-needed emotional freedom into their lives.
He is blessed to share each day of his life with his beautiful, supportive wife and best friend, Tamara and is the proud father of two beautiful children, Dwanna and Clinton McFarland. For all of the above, Rev. McFarland gives God complete glory!
Dr. Marcus Cosby
The Reverend Dr. Marcus D. Cosby, the third child born to the late Mr. Rogers Cosby and Mrs. Bobbie J. Cosby, serves as the Senior Pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. A proud native of Chicago, Illinois and a product of Emmanuel Baptist Church where Dr. L.K. Curry served as pastor, Cosby received the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion and English from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, the Master of Divinity Degree in Homiletics and Christian Education from the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia and the Doctor of Ministry Degree in Homiletics from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois.
Dr. Cosby is married to his high school sweetheart, Mrs. Audrey Marie Cosby, and they have been blessed with three beautiful daughters, Adrienne Marie, Ashley Marie and Aliyah Marie and two sons, Marcus D., II and Matthew D. Cosby.
As the successor to the Founding Pastor of Wheeler Avenue, Dr. William A. Lawson, Pastor Cosby has been blessed to continue the ministry of this intentionally intergenerational congregation in the inner city of Houston, Texas since 2004, having served as Associate Pastor since 1998. With four Sunday worship services and a membership of more than 15,000, he has led the congregation to ensure its impact both on and far beyond the church campus with the inception of the Wheeler Avenue Christian Academy, serving children from 6 weeks old through the second grade; by opening a transitional housing facility for homeless single mothers in the Third Ward community of Houston; through cultivating a missional outreach in multiple villages in South Africa; and maintaining a passion for creatively impacting the lives of the forsaken and forgotten wherever they may be found.
Pastor Charles Grant
Ministry Leader and Business Partner with a personal and professional passion to strengthen and serve black churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. Build relationships and network with pastors and church leaders across the country for the purpose of guiding, equipping, and training in best practices in discipleship. In black SBC churches, participated and led in ministries like Evangelism Explosion (E.E.), Baptist Young Men’s President of the Brotherhood, World Changers, FAITH Evangelism, Men’s Ministry Director, Outreach Evangelism Director, and Minister of Christian Education. Tenacious in service to the Lord, building relationships and mobilizing black SBC churches for the work of fulfilling the Great Commission.
Cross-Functional Leadership | Problem Resolution | Strategic Organization/Planning | Collaboration | Evangelism/Disciple Making | Shepherding/Teaching | Preaching | Mobilization Initiatives | Question Based Selling | Project Management
Rev. Jerry M. Carter, Jr., Ph.D.
Dr. Jerry M. Carter Jr. is the 14th pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church of Morristown, NJ. A faithful theologian whose commitment to articulate the gospel in both written and oratory forms has transformed and shaped the lives of generations. He is a highly sought-after revivalist, keynote speaker, lecturer, mentor and teacher who has been invited to share the gospel on numerous platforms throughout the country. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Denison University, in Granville, Ohio, a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Philosophy degree from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He is president of the African-American Clergy Association of Morris County, founder and host of the How Shall They Hear Preaching conference, and distinguished visiting professor of the Transformational Preaching Doctorate of Ministry program at New Brunswick Theological in New Brunswick, NJ. He is an author who has inspired through his published works in the New Interpreters Handbook of Preaching, Oxford Sermons Volume III, Evangelizing the Black Male in the 21st Century and the African American Pulpit. His latest work, “The Empowered Life: Living Well in the Spirit” was published in 2015. Dr. Carter is a native of Columbus, Ohio, and the proud father of three children, Jerry M. III, Zachary Daniel, and Camille.
Dr. Marcus Allen
Dr. Allen served honorably in the United States Army for over 10 years. He completed three combat tours: two to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. Dr. Allen has received the Bronze Star Medal which is one of the highest military honors and as well as numerous other awards.
Dr. Allen 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 is the author of a new book, “I Got Next; 10 Essential Lessons for Effective Pastoral Transition.”
He is married to the former Terra Cook and God has blessed them with three beautiful children: Alexandrea, MeKiyah and Marcus Jr.
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.
Pastor Donna Childs
“Call out to me and I will answer you and will show you great and mighty things, secrets you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3. This scripture has encouraged Donna and motivated her to seek God’s Word and God’s will for her life. Donna Childs was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the Christian home of Deacon Martin Childs Sr. and Mother Gleneva Childs. She commenced and attained her Christian roots at the Tabernacle Community Baptist Church, where she is still a current and faithful member. Presently, Donna serves as the Senior Pastor of Tabernacle. She was called to that position in September, 2020. In the past, she has served as Interim Pastor, Associate Minister, Christian Education Ministry Leader, New Members Orientation Teacher and associate Bible Study Teacher for Tabernacle.
Donna has always exhibited a gift for teaching and a desire for motivating and inspiring other individuals through her words and the Word. She has always possessed a hunger and love of the Gospel. The Lord nurtured and flourished this hunger and called Donna to preach the Gospel in 2000. She was licensed in 2002 and ordained to formal ministry in 2013