Lawrence Ware Spurs Discussion of Race, Draws Range of Responses Within SBC

Some 950 Southern Baptists gathered for the 2017 Black Church Leadership and Family Conference the same day a New York Times op-ed criticized the SBC for “a deep commitment to white supremacy.”
Photo by Diana Chandler

A black Oklahoma minister’s New York Times op-ed “renouncing [his] ordination in the Southern Baptist Convention” has drawn responses from a range of African Americans who say they will continue to cooperate with the convention as it pursues racial reconciliation.

Meanwhile, the op-ed’s author, Lawrence Ware, explained his views in an interview with Baptist Press, noting he does not believe Southern Baptists by and large are intentionally racist. He also said he likely would have “softened” some of his language against the SBC if given an opportunity to rewrite the op-ed.

Ware, a staff minister at Prospect Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, wrote in a July 17 Times op-ed that “a deep commitment to white supremacy” within the SBC helped prompt his renunciation of convention involvement, as did “homophobia” in the convention.

Co-director of the Center of Africana Studies at Oklahoma State University, Ware wrote that a key factor in his decision to renounce ordination in a Southern Baptist church was the SBC’s failure at its Phoenix annual meeting in June to “immediately” adopt a resolution submitted by Texas pastor Dwight McKissic denouncing white supremacy “of the so-called alt-right.”

Ware also criticized the SBC for expelling from its annual meeting “activists who tried to raise awareness about the ways in which the convention fails its [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] members.”

At the annual meeting, an initial decision by the Resolutions Committee not to consider McKissic’s resolution was upheld by a vote of messengers. But those preliminary decisions yielded to a June 14 resolution, presented by the Resolutions Committee and adopted overwhelmingly by messengers, which decried “every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Approximately five pro-gay and pro-transgender protesters were asked to leave the Phoenix Convention Center when members of their group “inappropriately used the official convention logo and were identified as violating the published SBC materials distribution policy,” convention manager William Townes told Baptist Press. “It was later discovered that one of the protestors who was requested to leave was wearing a counterfeit guest badge.”

Ware wrote in The Times, “As a black scholar of race and a minister who is committed to social justice, I can no longer be part of an organization that is complicit in the disturbing rise of the so-called alt-right, whose members support the abhorrent policies of Donald Trump and whose troubling racial history and current actions reveal a deep commitment to white supremacy.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
David Roach