Ministers denounce Lyons; Baptist leader asks for money
By BRIDGET EVARTS AND WIRE REPORTS
The Chkohicle Suff Writer
Growing opposition from Baptist
ministers and churches in at least two
major cities may topple the embattled
president of the National Baptist
About two dozen ministers from
?Philadelphia passed a resolution Aug.
- 15 asking that the Rev. Henry J. Lyons
; ;step down from his position as president
? ; :of the National Baptist Convention
, USA, until a national commission com
I pletes an investigation into his alleged
Now members of 23 churches in
Nashville, the organization's hometown,
have passed a resolution demanding
Lyons resign altogether.
Meanwhile, Lyons continued to dis
tribute a mass mailing to Baptist pas
tors and congregations soliciting
donations to ihe organization.
"I want to assure you that I am not
the person that is presently being paint
ed across America," Lyons' letter read.
Allegations surfaced several weeks ago
that Lyons had used at least $90,000 of
convention money to purchase an exclu
sive waterfront home in Tierra Verde,
The $700,000 luxury house first
came to the attention of many Baptists
July 6, when Lyons' wife set fire to the
building. Deborah Lyons told authori
ties that she had discovered her husband
co-owned the house with Bemice V.
Edwards, former public relations direc
tor for the Baptist Convention, and that
the two were having an affair.
The Associated Press' reported that
Edwards was convicted of embezzle
ment three years ago in Milwaukee,
where she operated a job-pjacement
agency, an alternative school and a drug
counseling service with public funds.
Lyons later hired Edwards to work for
the National Baptist Convention.
Authorities are now investigating
allegations that the pair used church
funds to buy jewelry, and illegally
claimed an expensive car for a tax
exemption as religious property.
In a July 11 statement, Lyons said,
"There has never been any money taken
from this church or from the National
Baptist Convention to secure the loan
See Lyons on AS
Tho Kov. Honry J. Lyon*
f73con?* H iNSION-SaIKM GrIFNSBORO HlGH POINT Vol. XXIII No. 51
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* forsyth cnty pub lib 77t? Choice for African-American News and Information from this library
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Hearing delayed, budget impasse continues
ENFIEL.D, N.C. (AP) ? A
budget impasse that has dragged
on for eight weeks in this tiny
Halifax County town will drag
on even longer.
Circuit Court Judge Richard
Parker of Manteo has agreed to
move a hearing for three black
elected officials who are blocking
passage of a 1997-98 budget by
refusing to attend meetings.
Mayor Kai Hardaway and
commissioners Bud Albert
Whitaker and James Sledge have
boycotted nine meetings since
June 16, preventing the town
from pawing a budget by the July
They argue that the interests
and needs of the black communi
ty are not being addressed by the
commission's other three mem
bers, who are white.
"We have not been negligent
in our duties," Sledge said.
"We're just simply trying to fight
for the rights of people, and
that's what we'll continue to do."
After the state Local
approved a temporary two
month budget July 8 ? allowing
the town to pay employees and
deliver essential services ?
Parker ordered Hardaway,
Whitaker and Sledge to attend
board meetings to pass a budget.
When they refused. Parker
ordered them to appear at a hear
ing in Greenville Aug. 14. The
judge has since agreed to move
the hearing to Halifax, but he <
will have to wait for an assign
ment to go there from the state's
Administrative Office of the
Town attorney William
Dickens, who filed the lawsuit to
compel the commissioners to
See Impasse ?vA5
Voters have more say-so
in local primary elections
By BRIDGET EVARTS
The Chronicle Staff Writer
Think you've done your duty as a registered voter
by turning out in November?
Think again. Primary elections, often held two
months before general elections, narrow the field of
candidates by political party or pare the number of
contenders in non-partisan races.
In some cases, the primary election can be more
important than the regular election. If in a particu
lar region Party A is historically stronger than Party
B, then the primary election between Party A's can
didates may essentially decide who will win.
Unaffiliated voters, those who did not select a
party when registering, can vote in either the
Democratic or Republican primary election by stat
ing their preference at the polls. Those voters will
In Forsyth County, more Democrats are regis
tered to vote than Republicans. But Republicans
hold the majority of the board of commissioners (5
2) and constitute half of the city aldermen board.
Unaffiliated voters may explain that party's strength.
"Originally, the Republicans were the only ones
to allow unaffiliateds to vote in the primaries," said
Kathie Chastain Cooper, the county's director of
elections. Last year, the state Democratic Party
decided to open its primaries to unaffiliated voters as
Even with the changes in party protocol, primary
elections garner some of the lowest turnouts. In
1993, the last Winston-Salem municipal primary,
only 5.8 percent of registered Republicans and 13.2
See PRIMARIES '! A2
King legacy calls for new trial for James Earl Ray, indicates conspiracy
W w m
By BRIDGET EVARTS AND WIRE REPORTS
The Chronicle Staff Writer
Most of the 16 resolutions passed by
the Southertf" Christian Leadership
Conference at the organization's 40th
anniversary convention, held July 27-30 in
Atlanta, were recognizable: support for
affirmative action, quality education, rais
ing the minimum wage and monitoring
But Resolution 13 stood apart from
the rest, especially as it followed a resolu
tion to continue the investigation into the
1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street
Baptist Church, where four young girls
Resolution 13 supported a new trial for
James Earl Ray, the man convicted of the
1968 assassination of SCLC organizer Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
The veteran civil rights organization's
solicitation follows a declaration of Ray's
innocence by the son of the Slain leader.
In March, Dexter King visited Ray, who is
serving a 99-year sentence for the assassi
nation. King said he emerged from that
Jam*s fori Kay
meeting convinced of Ray's innocence,
and recruited former Atlanta mayor and
SCLC official Andrew Young to assist
him in the fight for Ray's new trial.
SCLC officials were a bit more cau
tious in their resolution's description,
which asked that U.S. Attorney General
Janet Reno grant immunity to former
Memphis businessman Lloyd Jowers in
order to receive more information on the
assassination at the Lorraine Motel.
It remains to be seen if Resolution 13
will bring the kind of bad luck to the
SCLC that some critics have assigned to
the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for
Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.
Since the younger King brought renewed
attention to his fathers assassination by
absolving Ray, the King family and center,
led by Defter King, has also received bad
Some Atlantans say that the centfer
focuses too much on making a profit, and
neglects the elements of social change
See SCLC o\ A2
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