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Thu, 03.05.1942

Henry Lyons, Minister born

Henry Lyons

*Henry Lyons was born on this date in 1942. He is a Black minister and former president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Henry J. Lyons was from Tampa, Florida, raised by his grandfather, a Deacon named Booker T. Lyons. His father, who was only 16 when Henry was born, played a minimal role in his childhood. He attended Gibbs Junior College in St. Petersburg, Florida, studied at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, and then entered the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. In 1970, he moved to Cincinnati, and in 1972 he gained a more important position in St. Petersburg, Florida. He married Deborah Lyons in the 1970s. In 1977 he became Vice President of the Florida General Baptist Convention and was president from 1981 to 1994.

In 1994, Lyons became President of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc. Always a charismatic speaker, the Lyons tenure featured much activity. He established a Unified Program, reduced the debt on the Baptist World Center, and dissolved the debt on the Sunday School Publishing Board. In addition, commissions were added to the convention. He pledged to "raise a standard" and overcome the difficulties caused by his predecessor T. J. Jemison’s support of Mike Tyson in his rape case. However, he exacerbated the organization's difficulties in many respects rather than diminished them.

In February 1998, he was charged with one count of racketeering and two counts of grand theft. In summer 1998, he was indicted by federal prosecutors for fraud, extortion, money laundering, conspiracy, and tax evasion. He initially protested his innocence and claimed racial motivation for the charges. Still, the proceedings of his trial and his eventual plea-bargaining agreement dampened the enthusiasm of those who maintained his innocence. In 1999, Lyons got five and a half years in jail for misappropriating more than $4 million from NBC while he was its President, a post he had already resigned.

In November 2003, he was released on probation and returned to preaching in St Petersburg. He currently is the pastor of the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida. In April 2007, Lyons was defeated to be re-elected president of the Florida General Baptist Convention. Subsequently, he and his supporters organized the General Baptist State Convention of Florida, of which he is the president. In 2009, he was defeated to take the presidency of the National Baptist Convention, USA. On June 15, 2017, Lyons was forced out of his position by the trustees, mid accusations of theft misconduct.


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