Several hundred pastors, officers and lay members representing churches affiliated with the United Baptist Missionary Convention and Auxiliaries of Maryland (UBMC) assembled at Wayland Baptist Church in West Baltimore to witness the group’s inaugural candidates’ forum.

In compliance with recently adopted revisions to the UBMC constitution and by-laws, pastors seeking to become officers must compete for all elected leadership positions rather than automatically ascend until reaching the presidency.

The Rev. James B. Gray Jr., pastor of Pleasant Zion Baptist Church in Dundalk, is the current president.

This year’s candidates were given time to share their vision for the future growth and direction of the Convention and explain their qualifications to serve. Each presidential candidate spoke for approximately 15 minutes about their proposed four year platform. All other candidates for office were allotted five minutes to speak. A short question and answer session, led by host pastor, the Rev. Hoffman Brown, followed each presentation.

Attendees welcomed the opportunity to hear from the candidates before the 88th UBMC Annual Session to be held May 18-23, at Leadenhall Baptist Church.

Authorized delegates will cast their votes to elect new officers, May 23, prior to the closing session.

The election focus is currently on two presidential candidates; the Rev. Boyer G. Freeman, pastor of the New Saint Mark Baptist Church and the Rev. Cleveland T.A. Mason 2nd, pastor of Perkins Square Baptist Church.

Rev. Freeman, who currently serves as second vice president, explained his vision as the need to “improve our systems, increase and engagement and impact our community.”

Rev. Mason, the first vice president, has chosen for his theme, “Rebuilding community – Keeping Christ at the Center.”

The office of first vice president is being sought by the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr., pastor of Friendship Baptist Church since 2002, the Rev. Donte L. Hickman Sr., pastor of Southern Baptist Church for 12 years and the Rev. Franklin Lance, who is celebrating 10 years as pastor of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church.

Other candidates are:

Second vice president:
Rev. Kirk J. Jackson, New Mt. Hebron Baptist Church
Rev. Mark Nolan, New Hope Baptist Church, Bel Air

Third vice president:
Rev. Dean A. Jones-Evans, United Missionary Baptist Church, Eastern Shore and
Rev. Willie Mason, Second Baptist Church, Annapolis

Recording secretary
Rev. Domanic A. Smith, Ezekiel Church and Ministries (unopposed)

Rev. Joel Small, First Baptist Church, Cherry Hill (unopposed)