The Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board (MMBB) presented its first Century of Service Leadership Award to Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics and executive editor of, at BCE’s annual luncheon last week in Tampa, Fla.

“Robert Parham’s strong example of leadership through service has changed thousands of person’s lives,” said David Hinson, MMBB senior benefits consultant. “He has never wavered in his daily commitment to promote Christian ethics, education and excellence.”

Hinson said Parham “has asked people to challenge the preconceptions and prejudices of the past in order to explore new visions associated with the future. I know of no one more influential, more consistent or more deserving of this award.”

Founded in 1911 by the Northern Baptist Convention, now named the American Baptist Churches-USA, MMBB provides church-based financial services. With more than $2 billion in assets, MMBB administers retirement investment benefits and health insurance to churches and faith-based entities.

MMBB provided insurance to Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s “when no one else would and we told ministers that if they stood up for doing what was right against prejudices of their day, we would stand beside them,” said Hinson.

The Century of Service Leadership Award came with a $1,000 grant.

“As one who is seldom at a loss for words, I find myself almost at a loss for words,” said Parham about MMBB’s unexpected award.

Parham accepted the award and paraphrased long-time business leader John Baugh: “Good things happen when goodwill Baptists get together.”

Speaking of the blossoming relationship between BCE/ and American Baptist Churches-USA, Parham noted the number of ABC leaders who have appeared as interviewees in the organization’s documentaries, including Beneath the Skin, Different Books, Common Word and Sacred Texts, Social Duty.

“I accept this recognition with a full awareness that any successes that I have had … are only possible because of the staff we have had,” said Parham.

“Our board of directors has been with us through the thick of conflict and the thin of funding,” he said, “and they have helped put us where we are.”

MMBB was the corporate sponsor of BCE’s annual luncheon attended by some 400 participants who saw the first screening of the organization’s forthcoming documentary on immigration.

The documentary, which focuses on the faith community’s response to the U.S. immigration crisis, features stories in five states: Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama and Iowa. (Click here to view documentary trailers.)

The currently untitled documentary received major funding from the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas. It will be released on DVD later this summer in both a half-hour version designed for public screenings with panel discussions and an hour version designed for a four-week study in churches.

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