H.B. Charles Jr. talks about need for building relationships

 
H.B. Charles Jr., senior pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church with campuses in Jacksonville and Orange Park, said there is work to be done both by the Southern Baptist Convention and historically black churches before more ethnic congregations decide to align with the SBC. “I think on both ends there is not as much strategic partnership as there should be because we only know one another from a distance,” Pastor Charles told me as we sat together ...

Brooks Hays, SBC president during turbulent '50s, drew MLK's praise

 
Though Southern Baptists were not known for their advocacy of racial justice 60 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. once told a fellow black Baptist minister that the 1957 Southern Baptist Convention president "suffered with us" in the cause of civil rights. King's reference was to the late U.S. Rep. Brooks Hays, D-Ark., who served as SBC president from 1956-58. After helping to mediate a conflict over integration at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., Hays lost his bid for ...

New Baptist Covenant Summit extols racial justice

 
A theologically and ethnically diverse coalition of Baptists gathered around the theme of racial justice and reconciliation at the New Baptist Covenant Summit Sept. 14-16 convened by former President Jimmy Carter. The group's dwindling attendance—down more than 97 percent from its 2008 inaugural gathering of what Baptist Press estimated as 9,000 attendees—led the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) to wonder about the coalition's future prospects for survival. Jimmy Carter Speaking to an estimated 240 people at the Hilton Hotel ...

Prayer in troubled Charlotte counters 'hurt, anger'

 
"Hurt" and "anger" have met with prayer in troubled Charlotte, N.C., where Southern Baptist pastors are praying and encouraging peace and reason amid violent protests and a declared state of emergency after the police killing of a black man. Christians of various denominations held prayer services today (Sept. 22) and yesterday after police shot and killed 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott while looking for a suspect in an unrelated incident. Charlotte policeman Brentley Vinson, also black, has been identified as the ...

Alabama pastor says racism factored into his termination

 
A former Alabama pastor and the rural congregation that terminated him last Sunday (July 31) have offered varying reports to media outlets regarding the role racism played in the 31-0 vote to dismiss him. Mt. Sterling Baptist Church in Butler, Ala., was the subject of news stories by WTOK television in nearby Meridian, Miss., the AL.com news website and other media outlets when it fired pastor Jonathan Greer, 26, over what Greer described as "pushback" against his intention to invite black ...

Dallas shootings yield 'beginning of revival'

 
Holding interracial prayer gatherings, ministering to grieving police officers in the emergency room and hosting a question-and-answer session with police are among the ways Dallas-area Southern Baptists have responded to the violent killings of five police officers last week. The July 7 assassinations, apparently committed by a suspect who reportedly told police he wanted to kill white people, occurred within days of police killing two black civilians under questionable circumstances -- Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile of ...

Violence brings cry for 'true way of our Lord'

 
The collision of fear and mistrust have driven the violence upon violence that killed two black civilians and five police officers in three separate states in as many days, Southern Baptist pastor Lee Wesley told Baptist Press. "There is a fear on the part of police officers when they go into the black community, and that fear heightens their approach to these problems," said Wesley, whose pastorate Community Bible Baptist Church is in Baton Rouge, La., where two white police ...

Emanuel massacre prompting change a year later

 
Labor pains of change are noted in Charleston, S.C., a former slave-trading port where the government flew the Confederate flag until a white supremacist killed nine black church worshippers a year ago. Southern Baptist leaders in Charleston and the widower of a victim told Baptist Press they are seeing the early fruit of improved race relations after the June 17, 2015, massacre at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Emanuel AME) in the heart of the city. Anthony Thompson, whose 59-year-old ...

African-American church embraces Hispanic neighbors

 
At the end of a Black History Month-themed service at St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Anthony Dockery rose to tell about his recent mission trip to El Salvador. The mission team had served in the hometown of Jose Rivas, one of the pastors at St. Stephen. Beyond "good morning" and "God bless you," Dockery had relied on Rivas for Spanish translation while in the Central American country. The African-American congregation enthusiastically applauded the news that 500 people came to the ...