For the first time since he was accused of misusing church funds, the president of the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. Inc. appeared with his alleged co-conspirator.

The Rev. Henry J. Lyons and convicted embezzler Bernice Edwards pleaded not guilty Monday to racketeering charges. Lyons also pleaded not guilty to grand theft, and a Jan. 4 trial date was scheduled.The pair avoided eye contact and did not speak to each other during the brief court hearing. They sat in front-row benches on opposite sides of the courtroom, Lyons surrounded by family and supporters and Edwards seated next to her attorneys.