African American Fellowship visions future, studies new age statistics

SAN ANTONIO - African American Baptists were challenged to look into the future with a new set of lenses as they gathered together at this year's Culp Banquet, celebrated during the Texas Baptists Family Gathering.

Photo: From left to right: Oscar Epps, President; Ponce L. Brown, Vice President; Glen J. Samuels, Secretary; Elmo Johnson, Treasurer; Michael Evans, Former President

Nat Irvin II, professor of management at the University of Louisville, recalled a childhood memory when an unfortunate incident with glass caused blindness in one of his eyes.

"Just because you have eyesight doesn't mean you aren't blind," he said as he walked around the crowded room. "Also, being blind doesn't mean you don't have vision."

In his presentation titled "2045: Living, Learning, Thinking and Believing in a New Age," Irvin challenged the audience to consider the question, "How do you see what you've been looking at with a new set of lenses?"

The future is coming, and people are often in denial about what could happen, he said as he presented a series of slides to the audience that contained statistics and facts relevant to the rapid advancements of the new age.

For instance, he pointed out 2,000 tweets are posted per second, and a computer will be 64 times faster in 2025 than it is now.

Even the job market is changing, he said. Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple have combined market capitalization of more than $900 billion but only employ 150,000 people.

Irvin brought awareness about advancements in robot technology that decrease the demand for human labor. From software programs that grade essays to machines that fully prepare hamburgers, fewer and fewer workers will be needed, he said.

It is important to think about things in a new way, he explained, to be aware of what is coming in the future and have contextual intelligence--the understanding of the world around.

Irvin ended his presentation by encouraging the audience to continue loving people and using their God-given intellect to vision the future while keeping their eyes open to the advancements of the new age.

"No matter what it is that happens in the future," he said, "we as human beings still need each other. We still need to be near each other, we need to hear each other.... Where there is no vision, we will perish."

The newly elected African American Fellowship executive board joined on stage for recognition. The officers elected earlier that morning in the annual business meeting were Oscar Epps, pastor of Community Missionary Baptist Church in DeSoto, as president, Ponce Brown, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in El Paso, as vice president, Glen Samuels, New Millennium Baptist Church in Lubbock, as secretary and Elmo Johnson, pastor of Rose of Sharon Baptist Church in Houston, as treasurer. Michael Joseph, pastor of New Providence Baptist Church in Houston is the assistant treasurer.

By: Leah Allen, Texas Baptists Communications Intern

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