Melvin Banks Sr.
Melvin Banks Sr. (Courtesy of ECPA)

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association has presented its inaugural Kenneth N. Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Melvin Banks Sr., founder and chair of Urban Ministries Inc.

The presentation on behalf of the Christian publishing industry, took place May 2 at the ECPA awards celebration in Colorado Spring, Colo., among 150 Christian publishing leaders and industry professionals.

“It was a tremendous honor for ECPA to give the Kenneth N. Taylor Award to Dr. Banks,” said Stan Jantz, ECPA executive director. “UMI filled a critical need that was being overlooked by the Christian publishing community at the time. After 47 years, Dr. Banks and UMI continue to serve the church with outstanding books and resources.”

The industry recognized Banks for his crucial contributions contextualizing the Gospel to the African-American community. In distinguishing the dominance of Eurocentric images and ideas in Christian publishing, Banks identified the unique opportunity to serve African-Americans and people of African descent with relevant, contextual resources.

Banks was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and at the age of 12 was inspired by a man who quoted Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” God used that verse to lead him to make a commitment that his life should be dedicated to sharing God’s knowledge with God’s people.

In 1955, Banks graduated from Moody Bible Institute and married Olive Perkins. He went on to attend Wheaton College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. He was later awarded an honorary doctorate by Wheaton College and served for many years as a board member of this institution.

Tyndale House Publishers chair Mark Taylor, son of the award’s namesake, presented the award to Dr. Banks, who founded UMI to further the idea of an African-American Christian publishing house that would uniquely serve this audience.

Under Banks’ direction, UMI has grown to be a leading publisher of Christian education and other resources for churches in the African-American community and throughout the world.

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This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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