Ed Gilbreath says he has always been fascinated with the National Baptist Convention, sometimes called "the mother of black denominations." As he was growing up in Rockford, Illinois, he saw the powerful and dynamic role that black Baptist churches played in the African-American community. More recently, as an adult living on Chicago's west side, he was curious how this venerable institution could stand behind its president as the facts about his scandalous behavior unfolded.

And as a journalist, he saw the Lyons affair (and the way the denomination was recovering its equilibrium) as an opportunity to open a window for CT's readers into a temporarily weakened institution that has provided strength, courage, and hope to millions (see "Redeeming Fire," pg. 38).

"African-American religion is not always taken seriously in our society," Ed says. "People think the music is great and that it's a nice thing for blacks to have, but they just don't get its deeper meaning." He wants CT readers to realize that the African-American tradition is valid, rich, and real.

As he covered September's contentious NBC convention in Tampa, Ed was intrigued by the strange blend of political excitement and passionate worship. He was also impressed with the intelligence of the preachers. "They were sharp, thoughtful communicators and thinkers," he says. "I'd like to go back every year and hear that preaching. It's an art. It's a science, too."

Ed's byline will be familiar to long-time readers of this magazine. After graduating from Judson College, Ed spent nearly four years in CT's marketing and editorial departments learning the craft of putting out a magazine. He left CT in October of 1995 to work with New Man magazine in Orlando, Florida.

But Ed was eager to return to Chicago, to family, and to the annual round of the seasons. So last June, when it became possible, CT and its sister publication LEADERSHIP welcomed Ed back as one of our key writers and editors.

Family is important to Ed and his wife Dana, and if all goes according to plan, just a few days after you receive this magazine in the mail, Ed and Dana will welcome their first child into the world. Ed is proud of his reporting and writing about the NBC. But that's nothing compared to what he will feel as a first-time dad.

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