BY JAMES HARPER
DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
The Rev. Al Sharpton will be the featured speaker at Dr. L. Ronald Durham’s 10-year anniversary celebration slated for Aug. 16 at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Daytona Beach.
Durham, who hails from New Jersey, knows the civil rights leader personally and worked with him last year in organizing a massive rally in Sanford seeking the arrest of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin.
In a recent interview, Durham said he hopes to get over to Sanford sometime after the opening statement of the trial to show support for Martin’s family.
Durham was called to preach at age 16, sought his higher education at Shaw University on a full scholarship, received his earned Doctor of Pastoral Studies degree from Evangel Christian University in Monroe, La., a Doctor of Sacred Theology from United Christian Seminary, Riverside, Calif., and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Bethune-Cookman University.
He was the moderator of the North Jersey District Missionary Baptist Association and counselor to the National Black Caucus of Washington, D.C. immediately preceding his relocation to Florida. He also was a teacher for the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education for more than 17 years.
Baptist convention VP
Earlier this year, the Florida General Baptist Convention held its 138th Annual Session at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, where Durham was named a vice president.
For the first time in the 138-year history of the convention, a Daytona Beach pastor has risen to this position.
The Florida General Baptist Convention is made up of more than 600 Baptist churches from Pensacola to Key West, and has more than 350,000 members. Prior to his selection as a vice president, Durham served as the convention’s corresponding secretary for the past four years.
“I deem this an honor, for which I am truly thankful,” said Durham. He went on to state, “This was not something I was seeking, but it’s wonderful to be recognized statewide, and I do not take this lightly.”
Durham will be working with pastors assigned by the convention president from the Central Florida area. He also will have in his area of responsibility the 153-acre property owned by the convention in Palatka, currently used as a retreat and conference site. The Florida Baptist Convention soon will begin looking at development of an assisted living center on the property, Durham noted.
Local clergy president
In April, Durham also was elected president of the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance (DBBCA).
The DBBCA is an alliance of pastors across denominational and cultural lines from the Daytona Beach area. The purpose of the DBBCA is to promote unity among the local clergy as well as support other civic, civil rights, religious organizations, and issues that will enhance the life of all the residents of the surrounding areas.
As well as serving as president of the DBBCA, Durham is co-chairman of F.A.I.T.H. (Fighting Against Injustice Towards Harmony).
In another key position, Durham was co-chair of the last Volusia County Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee. The January banquet speaker was Benjamin Crump, attorney for the parents of Trayvon Martin.
Also attending the banquet with Crump was Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, who presented a scholarship to a local high school graduate in their slain son’s name.
Durham also is the author of a book titled “The Secret Power of Prayer’’ published by Townson Press.