More than 3,600 registrants plan to gather in Memphis to pursue racial unity on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and The Gospel Coalition (TGC) will co-host the event — “MLK50: Gospel Reflections From the Mountaintop” — at the Memphis Convention Center half a century after King’s slaying on April 4, 1968, in the Tennessee city. The April 3-4 conference’s goal is to consider the state of racial unity in the American church and culture, as well as to examine what is required to achieve solidarity amid the country’s ongoing division.
ERLC President Russell Moore said he hopes the event “will remind us afresh of the Gospel we believe.”
“Not only that, but my hope is also that it will drive all of us toward Gospel consistency on issues of human dignity,” Moore told Baptist Press in written comments. “In all, I pray it will bring a word of Gospel hope, repentance and unity to many brothers and sisters in Christ.”
The church “should be leading the way” on “issues of racial justice and unity,” Moore said, adding that the Gospel “reconciles the sons of slaveholders with the sons of slaves.”
Walter Strickland, associate vice president for diversity at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said he hopes the conference will be “a thoughtful commemoration of a man who significantly changed the landscape of our country, and not just the veneration of a person but the celebration and the giving of tools to pursue the vision that he had that was birthed actually in Scripture.”
In a phone interview, Strickland told Baptist Press the demographics of the conference could be unique.
“[B]ecause of the nature of the event and the type of things that are happening … this crowd is going to be very diverse,” said Strickland, also an assistant professor of systematic and contextual theology and first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
He hopes the participants – including educational and church leaders — “will begin to build relationships with each other so that they can then continue this work …. of establishing, at least as much as we can, this beloved community that Dr. King was advocating for now as a testimony to what God is going to do in the kingdom,” Strickland said.
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Source: Baptist Press