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Margaret Perkins honored by African American Fellowship
--By Joni B. Hannigan & Fletcher Allen
ATLANTA, June 15--Likening Margaret Perkins to a rose that gives off a special fragrance, Joseph Lyles lauded the former Woman's Missionary Union consultant for "blooming" in spite of "special circumstances."
     Lyles, president of the African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Fort Foote Baptist Church, Fort Washington, Md., honored Perkins at the June 14 fellowship luncheon at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
     Perkins, recognized for her 20 years of service as black church consultant with Woman's Missionary Union, auxiliary of the Southern Baptist Convention, has worked with SBC African American churches and other women's organizations.
     Bobbie Patterson, WMU associate executive director, said Perkins is a pioneer, teacher, professional and scholar.
     "She taught us as a staff, and she helped WMU leadership," said Patterson, crediting Perkins with balance. "She is a total church person, not just WMU or just African American. She worked with everyone."
     Mounting the platform to accept gifts and well wishes, Perkins said, "God is so good. It's amazing what the Lord can do through a country girl from Tuscaloosa, Ala."
     The fellowship's Simmons Award was presented to Shalom, a nonprofit, non-affiliated missions group based in Dale City, Va., that promotes evangelism, education and economic development. Accepting the award, Julian Dangerfield, executive director and founder of Shalom, said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the black laborers are few. We want to reflect any recognition right back to Jesus."
     Presentations to the African American Fellowship were also made by the following SBC agency and auxiliary representatives: IMB, David Cornelius; WMU, Debra Berry; NAMB, Dennis Mitchell; LifeWay Christian Resources, Elgia Wells; and Annuity Board, Leroy Fountain.
     Fellowship president Lyles stirred participants with a rousing sermon based on Luke 19.
"Dr. Luke, the physician, still made house calls," Lyles said. "Are you hibernating in spiritual darkness or are we getting beyond this and allowing God to give us spiritual insight?" he asked.
Drawing on the illustration of a palm tree which bends in the wind but is held steady by deep tap roots, Lyles said, "nobody was born with a halo on their head -- but the master used us anyway."
     "If he loved us enough to die for us, then love him enough to live for him!" Lyles shouted.
His sermon wrapped up a two-day conference which opened Sunday afternoon, June 13, with more than 200 in attendance for a worship service at Sandtown Baptist Church, Atlanta.
"If revival isn't here, it will be after this worship service," host pastor Willie McPherson said.

     Following an afternoon of food and fellowship, Elroy Barber, president of the Florida Baptist Convention and pastor of West Side Baptist Church, Hollywood, Fla., urged the crowd to believe in God's power.
     "God is able to do anything," Barber said. "God can turn your bitterness into the sweet."
Speaking from Exodus 15:25-26, he said the Israelites, like modern people, often had short memories and forgot what God had done for them.
     "Grumblers and murmerers" are faithless people, Barber said. "Even though their enemies had been defeated and God had allowed them to cross into the Promised Land on dry land, they murmured. ... They had short memories."
     God loves us and "he tells us how we ought to live," Barber said. "He wants to elevate us to holy, pure, sweet, tested and faithful people.
     "He is going to use us," Barber said, challenging listeners to be ready to assume a place of leadership for the next millennium. "He has a plan, and he is the great 'I Am.'"

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