NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Fred Luter, the lone African American to have served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, sees great opportunity in the Unify Project, a new national grassroots racial unity initiative he’s leading with former SBC President Ed Litton and Dallas-area pastor Tony Evans.
“It would allow us to show that it is possible, according to the Scripture, for brothers and sisters to come together — of different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures — and be the church that Jesus died for,” said Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. “He died for everyone.”
Luter, Litton and Evans announced the Unify Project at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim with plans to launch the pastor-driven program in the fall, backed by a diverse core steering committee.
Litton, pastor of Redemption Church in Mobile, Ala., said the initiative extends beyond Black and white cultural groups.
“It’s important to stress too, because we have received some questions about this, that this isn’t just an African American (and) Anglo American experience,” Litton said, but includes Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and “all sorts of divisions racially in our culture.”
Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas and a noted author, theologian and radio host, will help lead the Unify Project in concert with The Urban Alternative, a ministry he co-founded in 1981 with his late wife Lois.
Within a short time following the announcement in Anaheim, Litton said, the initiative drew more than 2,000 requests for information on the program (available by texting Unify to 63566), and more than 1,000 requests for information registered at Unifysbc.org.
“I think it expresses what has been a deep current within the SBC for the last five years, and that is people see this. They have a desire for it, but they lack a plan and a strategy,” Litton said. “And one of the things we set out to do was to say, let’s not talk about, let’s not over-debate the subject as it is in our culture. Let’s just see what the Gospel tells us to do. What does the Gospel expect the Lord’s church to do?”
Luter describes Unify as an opportunity for the SBC to lead in unity at a particularly divisive time in the U.S.
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Source: Baptist Press