Racial reconciliation rests at the doorsteps of the church and can only be achieved through the gospel in action, a diverse panel of Baptist pastors said during a trailblazing discussion on the opening morning of the 2016 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis.
Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd convened the panel, historically including National Baptist Convention USA President Jerry Young. The two have collaborated for months to put talk into action and actually achieve racial reconciliation in a racially troubled America.
“Being together here at this significant moment in America where racial disunity is occurring, and few are speaking into this discussion, it is our responsibility as the church of Jesus Christ to resound the power of the gospel and the unconditional love of Christ for all people into this conversation,” Floyd said in introducing the nine-member panel including African American, Hispanic, Anglo, American Indian and Asian pastors of varying ages.
“It is our responsibility to have this historic conversation today for our present and for our future,” Floyd said of the panel, titled “A National Conversation on Racism in America.” He called Young, a chief speaker at the event, a “dear friend.”
Days before the first anniversary of the June 17, 2015, racially motivated massacre of a pastor and eight church members at the historic Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the panel also featured in a key speaking role Marshall Blalock, pastor of Charleston’s First Baptist Church.
All members of the panel expressed a unity of vision and purpose, describing the church as the Light and Salt of the earth, and the only cure on this side of heaven for racism.
As Young put it, “Somebody needs to pass the Salt and turn on the Light.” The pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., said racism is a sin problem that can only be solved by the people God has put in place to offer the healing salvation of the gospel.
“The problem in America is a problem with the church being what God called it to be,” Young said. “The problem (is) contaminated salt, concealed light, whereby we do not express the love of Christ nor extend His light.”
Blalock referenced the “grief and grace” Charleston experienced after 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof slaughtered worshippers after they welcomed him into a Bible study. That experience, Blalock said, helped white Americans understand the true pain of racism.
Read more at Why the Cure for Racism Resides in the Church.