By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—Byron Day, BCM/D’s newly elected president, grew up in the late 1960’s embracing the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of unity. The young Day envisioned a world of people of different races and nationalities living, working and worshipping in harmony.
“I always had that dream, really, that we could be that society. …But man can’t do it. Only God can,” Day said.
“I’ve always wanted to see the church be the church and not be divided by race…working together in a way that crosses racial, ethnic and socio-economic lines,” Day said. “I hope to share and stress unity in trying to get us to work together for the glory of God during my tenure,” Day said, referencing Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace…” (NIV)
Day grew up in the city of New Orleans. His mother was Catholic and his father was Baptist. His father was a deacon and Sunday school superintendent. The young Byron Day was active in Sunday school, youth activities and singing in the choir. He was a typical good church kid.
In 1975 he began attending University of Maryland College Park, where he met Pamela, his wife-to-be, during college orientation. As a freshman with newly found freedom, Day stopped attending church. But he credits his parents’ spiritual upbringing with his return in his sophomore year. He began attending Riverdale Baptist Church, which had a vibrant college and career ministry.
“One Sunday the pastor was preaching and said, ‘hell was forever.’ That got my attention,” Day said. He acknowledged that he had always believed in Jesus and had even gone to the altar as a young teen, he really wasn’t living for the Lord. He prayed to truly accept Christ that day and was baptized the same night in March in 1977.
A year after Day’s baptism, God called him to pastoral ministry. “I was in my quiet time reading II Timothy 4:2 (…be prepared in season and out of season.”) and God spoke to me. It wasn’t audible, but it was clear. I almost jumped out of the chair. I knew God had called me.”
He completed his Bachelor’s degree in business and enrolled in Capital Bible Seminary, working part-time for then U.S. Senator Bennett Johnson. Day and Pamela were married and Day began teaching a large young adult Sunday school class at Riverdale Church. He was later licensed and ordained at Mount Calvary Church and served as volunteer minister of education and associate pastor.
In 1991, Day began ministering as pastor of Emmanuel Church, Laurel. The church had been going through some struggles.
“Three members were left when I got there,” Day said, but the young new pastor knew that this was where God wanted him. “God gave me this promise, that He would build His church “not by power, nor by might but by My Spirit says the Lord,” he said.
“I knew nothing about planting churches, restarts…I just went and had church,” Day said. The church members began going door to door, visiting visitors, passing out flyers, and other “typical things.” “God did exactly what He said he would do,” Day said.
The church grew to a core of 30 in three years and Emmanuel Church began working to buy the church property back from the Baptist Foundation. They also started a building program. In 1998 the church added a new wing and in 2000 began having two services. Currently there are 250 faithful members. They’ve cleared a wooded area around the church and have a community fair on the property every June as a neighborhood outreach. They also do servant evangelism at the spring and fall local community fairs.
Day returned to seminary and graduated in 2002 earning his Master of Arts degree in biblical studies.
He and Pamela have three children, Rochelle, Melissa and David. They also have one grandchild, Xavier.