As president, Holder will oversee the direction of the statewide organization of more than 100 churches and 20,000 members. Holder, 42, is the senior pastor of the historic Calvary Baptist Church, Wichita. He will serve a five year term and replaces Rev. Jimmie Banks of Strangers Rest Baptist Church, Kansas City.
This was Holder’s second run for the state presidency. Five years ago, he lost in a four-man race. This year, in a head-to-head race against Banks, he came out victorious.
It’s very difficult to defeat an incumbent president, advised Holder, who says he was able to do it by compiling a coalition of millennial and older pastors across all six districts of the convention. Holder’s appealing message was one of change and reversing the downward trend in the organization’s membership.
“We have to begin to reach out to our disenfranchised pastors and churches who over the years have abandoned the work of the state convention because they didn’t see an aggressive enough platform to invest their time and resources,” notes Holder.
Winning back those churches will require change, he says.
“If we’re not willing to change our practices, not our principals, we are going to shut ourselves off to a demographic that will help sustain the church,” says Holder in reference to the Millennial generation he says are greatly missing in the Missionary Baptist churches across the state. The current average age of the convention membership is 65.
“You can’t grow a convention with an overwhelming majority of your constituents diminishing in their work, participation and support of the convention. You have to provide a platform where by Millennials feel they have a place in the work you’re trying to engage in.”
Holder was a young pastor, age 30, when he was hired to head Calvary. When he arrived, he says, he saw the same thing – and older congregation and very few young families with children. Slowly, he’s been able to convince his church membership to accept changes that make the church more appealing to young worshippers.
Some of his suggestions for change include across the convention are adding family ministries, including marriage enrichment and parenting for the 21st Century classes. He also supports making changes in the worship service to make them more appealing to Millennials.
“They (Millennials) are just not coming to traditional church,” Holder says. “The church can no longer continue to force traditional worship service down the throat of Millennials, just because it’s always been that way.”
Other major mandates for Holder’s administration include renovating Camp Ascension, a 160 acre facility owned by the church. It’s located in Toronto Kansas, about 1.5 hours east of Wichita, and has served as a getaway for younger church members as well as seniors. The camp is need of major renovations and Holder says he will work to put together a financial plan to refurbish the facilities. That arrangement may include partnering with others outside the church and possibly opening the camp to groups outside of the church.
Another Holder mission is to “champion youth development and to ensure our young people are thoroughly equipped to handle the challenges of the 21st century, academically, socially and spiritually.” The Missionary Baptist Convention has an
annual oratorical contest Holder wants to continue to grow. State winners can advance to a national competition where they compete for a $10,000 scholarship. He also wants to expose youth to science, technology and math programs and to historically Black colleges.
The Missionary Baptist State Convention of Kansas was founded in 1891. The organization is affiliated with the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. Holder is the third pastor from Wichita to serve as president of the State Convention. The other two were J.W. Hayes and W.G. Williams.