The National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., is retaining Henry Lyons as its top leader despite allegations of adultery and financial impropriety.

On July 17, Lyons, president of the 8.5 million-member denomination, met with 500 leaders and ministers of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. to answer questions about his personal life and finances. Lyons, 55, emerged from the meeting with a vote of confidence from the leaders. Since 1994, he has been president of the National Baptists, the largest black denomination in the country. Lyons appeared before the group after his wife, Deborah, had been charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to a $700,000 house that Lyons co-owns with business partner Bernice Edwards. The home sustained $30,000 in damages.

The incident involving the alleged arson has led to Lyons facing allegations of adultery and to questions about his wealth. "I categorically deny that Ms. Bernice Edwards and I were carrying on an affair," Lyons said at a July 11 news conference.

Lyons described the residence that is deeded in his and Edwards's name as a "guest house for developing corporate relations and receiving national and international visitors." Lyons also is president of Revelation Corporation, a for-profit business venture of five black denominations (CT, Feb. 3, 1997, p. 72).

Lyons appeared with his wife at the news conference and criticized media outlets for questioning his "living well." Lyons owns two Mercedes-Benzes and one Rolls-Royce.

On August 4, Lyons announced that he was severing business ties with Edwards, whom he called a "family friend."

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