Leaders representing various language and ethnic groups told Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, they would like to be “incorporated” into the totality of Southern Baptist life, not merely “assimilated” as objects of ministry.
“We want to be a mission force more than a mission field,” Lennox Zamore, pastor of Ebenezer Memorial Baptist Church in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands, said during introductions at the newly-appointed Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council.
Zamore’s comment drew numerous “Amens” from around the table and was restated by several other leaders representing African, Belarusian, Caribbean, Deaf, Ghanaian, Haitian, Intercultural, Jamaican, Messianic, Multi-Ethnic, Native American, Romanian and Russian Baptist fellowships across the United States.
The council is the fourth and final ethnic advisory council appointed to help the SBC Executive Committee, NAMB and other SBC entity leaders more fully understand and appreciate the perspectives ethnic churches and church leaders bring to the common task of reaching the nation and all nations with the Gospel.
Page, in his opening remarks during the March 27–28 meeting in Atlanta, pointed to a great mandate (the Great Commission), a great method (that ministry is most effective when we do it together) and a great message (the doctrine of God’s amazing grace as revealed through the atonement of Jesus Christ) as three things upon which church leaders of every ethnicity, race and language can and should agree.
“We don’t have time to waste in this life,” Page said. “Our unity in diversity is not about ‘looking good’ culturally; it is about reaching every man and woman and boy and girl with the Gospel.”
Speaking of his own conversion as a child, Page said, “I was not raised in a Christian home. … But, someone knocked on our door and invited me to church.” Reaching other children and families such as his own is the common bond we have in Christ, he said.
Portique Wilburn, pastor of Rock Harbor Christian Fellowship Church in San Pablo, Calif., agreed. “The SBC is at a crossroads of opportunity,” he said. “The lostness of those men and women and boys and girls is the crossroad.” People need to see the SBC’s unity on this issue, Wilburn said.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Roger S. Oldham