Can Rev. Chandra Williams become the first female president of Baptist State Convention?

Williams currently is senior pastor of United Missionary Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where she was reared and still resides. Her father pastored the church for 54 years before she took the helm in 2012.
Minister Jean Gressem-Jacobs of Morning Star Baptist Church hopes Williams’ election as convention president will weave more women into the fabric of the church.
“I feel like we are not as relevant as we should be. We need to be more involved in all of the church’s decisions,” Gressem-Jacobs said.

Williams first received the Lord’s call on her life in 2000. The single mother of one son received her formal education in Philly’s public schools system before entering Virginia Union University. However, she graduated from Temple University with a dual degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. After working as a teacher for five years, she turned to banking and worked at PNC for 15 years, earning numerous sales and marketing awards. She is currently enrolled in the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia University in Richmond pursuing her Master of Divinity.
“You have to be able to lead, communicate and mediate,” she said. “You can’t run a convention like you run your local church; going to it once a week. The president has to be actively engaged. You have to emulate what you want to imitate. The convention has to model what it wants the church to model. I want to ensure that people feel that the Pennsylvania State Baptist Convention is a place they can learn from.”
Morning Star Baptist Church Minister Gloria Gressem faithfully attended the convention for 10 years but stopped due to a lack of diversity.
“The classes and the people didn’t change. Nothing changes and it gets redundant,” said Gressem.
If elected convention president, Williams vows to change that. The election occurs Oct. 12 in Philadelphia.
She also wants to cultivate relationships with historically-Black colleges—specifically Chaney and Lincoln. “Historically-Black colleges were started by churches and we are not actively engaged with them,” Williams said.
That piqued the interest of Rikkel Ford, who questioned how the convention will engage young people. “You have to know the technology and know that it is a huge part of the lives of a young adult. You have to be in touch with all the things that are important in their lives,” said Williams, whose son, Bernard Lambert III, is a drummer for such artists as Tye Tribbet (with whom he won two Grammy Awards), Floetry and Jazmine Sullivan. “The music and programming at the convention have to be right. Young people don’t want a lot of preaching and you can’t be judgmental. Young people need to see people who are successful in their careers and have those people show them how to get where they want to be. Our young people need to hook up at the convention because they are like-minded and lifelong friendships are made there.”
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