The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee held a one-hour conversation on “race in America” with black church leaders Wednesday to listen and learn, and discuss the Church’s response to racial inequalities that are still affecting communities today.
Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd, who is white, convened the online video conference with five black SBC pastors from different regions of the country to have a “biblical conversation about race in America and the implications it’s having on the churches of our Southern Baptist Convention and our Great Commission work that we are doing together.”
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About 25 years after the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. apologized for its support for slavery during its founding, Floyd said that today, about 23% of SBC churches are “non-Anglo churches,” with 4,000 of the denomination’s 47,500 churches being African American churches.
“As we are growing in racial diversity as a convention of churches, it is important that we listen to one another and to learn from each other,” Floyd said. “We are walking through some very difficult times in American life as racial tension and strife continue to rise to levels of great concern for each of us. I believe that the church of Jesus Christ must answer this moment in American history and this is why we are having this conversation together today.”
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K. Marshall Williams, the senior pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church of Philadelphia, suggested during the conversation that America might not be in the situation it’s in today when it comes to racial issues had the Church done more to speak out against racism and slavery.
“Linked up with what we are dealing with today, I agree with Tony Evans. If the Church would have stood up for righteousness and justice rather than oppression and slavery back in the day, we may not be here,” Williams, who has served at his church for over 30 years, said.
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“I think it is imperative on the Church today, especially cooperatively and all of us of all ethnicities, especially our brethren of the lightest hue, to be able to speak to their concentric circle of contact, their sphere of influence, where laws are made that are deliberately contributing to institutional and systemic racism.”
Williams added that what the U.S. is facing today in its push forward for racial equality is “spiritual warfare.”
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