Literacy Connexus director to receive Strickland Award. Texans Care for Children named Lester Meriwether, Literacy Connexus executive director, as a recipient of the 2014 Phil Strickland Founder’s Award. Texans Care for Children named Lester Meriwether, Literacy Connexus executive director, as a recipient of the 2014 Phil Strickland Founder’s Award. Texans Care for Children presents the award, named in honor of the longtime director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, to individuals or organizations dedicated to improving the lives of Texas families. In 2004, Meriwether founded Literacy Connexus, a nonprofit ministry primarily supported by the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Ten years later, hundreds of Literacy Connexus-trained English-as-a-Second-Language instructors reach about 12,000 adult students weekly during the school year. Through Books for the Border and Beyond, an early literacy project developed in 2008, more than 2,500 families have received beginning home libraries.
SBTC leaders support immigration reform. Seventeen leading ministers at the Southern Baptists of Texas Evangelism Conference endorsed the Evangelical Immigration Table’s statement of principles, calling for immigration reform that “respects the God-given dignity of every person, protects the unity of the immediate family, respects the rule of law, guarantees secure national borders, ensures fairness to taxpayers, and establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.” New signatories of the document included Bart Barber, SBTC first vice president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville; Bill Britt, president of the Conference of Texas Baptist Evangelists; Matt Chandler, senior pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village and president of the Acts 29 Network; and Bill Jones, executive director of Neches River Baptist Association in Crockett. Several Baptist General Convention of Texas leaders already had signed onto the principles. Last summer, Suzii Paynter, then director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission and now executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and Jesse Rincones, president of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, endorsed the statement of principles.