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 on the platform of his downtown Jacksonville worship center just days before he would be named president of the 2018 SBC Pastors’ Conference. Go here for details: http://gofbw.com/blog?id=1726
“When I am looking from a distance all I know is a caricature or a generalization, a very broad, distant, limited perspective,” said Pastor Charles. “And, really, I can tell you I may hear or read something about Southern Baptists, [but] I see it and say that’s not the Southern Baptists I know because I have developed relationships, and developed friendships.
“And I know [SBC] pastors in big cities and in small country towns—in large churches and in small churches—who love Jesus, who love the Gospel, who love the church, who love the Word, who love their brothers and sisters in Christ—regardless of their racial or ethnic background. And I feel like developing the relationships—getting to know one another—is the key to that. And I think on both ends—the predominantly white churches and black churches—if you stand back and try to get a broad view from a narrow window you are prone to misinterpret other people’s commitments, motivations. And I just think it starts by somebody walking across the road and developing friendships.”
Our website will feature additional breakouts from my conversation with Pastor Charles during the next several days. This digital content will not be repeated in our July print edition, but that issue will include an edited version of Pastor Charles’ thoughts on a range of other topics as part of our regular “Behind the Pulpit” feature.
A video of our conversation also will appear on goFBW.com later this month. You can go now to the Witness’ YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/2pnmUFX to see videos of Stephen Rummage, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in the Tampa area; Sam Rainer, pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church; Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola; Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater; Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church outside of Tampa; and, Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.
Kevin Bumgarner is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness. He can be reached via email at kbumgarner@goFBW.com, and followed on Twitter @FBW_editor