Nearly two dozen black pastors met with Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Director Jim Richards and convention staff for a prayer and listening session on racial reconciliation amid national tensions stemming from black men being killed by police in Baton Rouge, La., and St. Paul, Minn., as well as gunmen killing police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Richards invited the SBTC pastors to discuss ways the convention can assist churches of all ethnicities in working together for racial reconciliation in their communities.
“Whether it’s racial justice, whether it’s law and order, whatever the perspective is from [our] churches, we need to help them see what your concerns are, what your heart is, and how we can help our churches minister in the current environment,” Richards said.
Dante Wright, SBTC vice president and pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock, opened the session by sharing his views on the Black Lives Matter movement, comparing and contrasting it with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Wright explained that he does not see Black Lives Matter at its core as a group that hates cops or promotes violence but one that seeks to replicate aspects of the Civil Rights movement and voices legitimate concerns about police brutality and inequality in the criminal justice system.
At the same time, Wright said, one of the major differences between the Civil Rights movement and Black Lives Matter is that the latter “has eliminated religious leaders, they have eliminated biblical principles.”
Terry Turner, pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church and former SBTC president, agreed, noting that Black Lives Matter has a variety of voices, some positive and some negative.
“Society doesn’t know what to believe; everybody’s caught up in whether it’s good or it’s bad…. [Black pastors] have to have the voice that overshadows the negative voices,” Turner said.
Prior to leading one of several prayer times throughout the July 19 meeting, Turner thanked the pastors in attendance, noting God’s sovereignty in the midst of chaos.
“We’re caught up in the midst of turmoil and trauma in our society, but it has not caught God unaware,” Turner said, noting that the tragic events and racial tensions have been used by God to provide a forum for discussing solutions.
“It allows us to deal with some of the racial issues that have been swept under the carpet for over 100 years in our society,” Turner said.
Pastors expressed their frustrations and concerns related to racial injustice and inequality that still pervade American culture in sometimes subtle as well as sometimes volatile ways. At the same time, they discussed ways their churches are seeking to engage in racial reconciliation within their communities.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Keith Collier/Southern Baptist TEXAN