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2009.07.04

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Todd Burus

Peter,
Where did you see this? I would love as much as you to welcome this news, but I would like to see the numbers.

Regardless, my big fear is that, even if our convention is becoming more racially diverse at large, the generic local SBC congregation is not. Nothing is sadder to me than to go into a Baptist church in a city that is highly multi-racial (like say, Baltimore in my experience) and find that everyone inside is the same color. I can't wait until this changes.

Dave Miller

Todd,

That has been my experience as well. In Iowa, we have a lot of ethnic work - several African-American churches, Korean work, Sudanese, Hispanic - we are a diverse group.

But individual churches are still pretty much single-race. There are obvious reasons for that with the Korean churches - language.

But I read Paul's word to the Ephesian church that he came to break down racial walls like those that separated the Jews and Gentiles and I wonder why we can't break down cultural walls.

I am thrilled that we have great ethnic work. But, in Iowa at least, we need to work on culturally mixed churches.

Jim Champion

Love that diversity on the GCR task force

peter

Guys,

I gave the link for the numbers.

I do not believe everything I read on the internet nor in the major newspaper. But the source appears credible.

Now all may take it as they wish.

My fear for Southern Baptists is, an unhealthy, self-directed cynicism seems to plague our convention. I'm sadly wondering if any good could come of Nazareth nowadays.

With that, I am...
Peter

cb scott

Jim,

One committee and its present "make-up" does not negate Peter's post.

But, I guess we could say that once the CR was at its maturity, conservative influence did what a liberal mind-set had only talked about for years.

To take it a little farther, I guess we might say conservatives have actually made progress toward ethnic and racial diversity while liberals only talked about it.

cb

cb scott

Jim,

We might even venture to say:

Once Bible believing Christians of various ethnic and racial heritages saw the SBC coming back to a biblical Christianity they saw reason to come aboard. They saw hope in action rather than in hollow promise.

Now, that is something we might even venture to say. Right Jim?

cb

Dave Miller

I'm not trying to negate the good news, just put it in perspective.

As I understand it (from denominational sources) that pretty much all of the SBC's growth in recent years was in ethnic work - and that is a good thing.

My point is simply that it does not change the fact that Sunday morning worship hour is still the most segregated hour of American life.

cb scott

Dave, It is true that Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in American life.

That is true of all churches of any ethnic minority heritage, far more than Anglo churches in general.

But it is also true that Southern Baptists have taken a greater step forward toward ethnic and racial diversity since the CR than any with the exception of two.

I am glad to be able to say that and I am glad that Peter called our attention to it on this 4th of July.

cb

Big Daddy Weave

A couple of observations:

The statement that Peter quoted from religion beat reporter Terry Mattingly (a former moderate SBCer during the 80s) is indeed correct.

Here's that statement:

"the most ethnically diverse churches in America are found in these three bodies — the Roman Catholic Church, the Assemblies of God and, yes, the Southern Baptist Convention."

In comparison to other Christian denominations, the SBC has a large number of predominantly ethnic Baptist congregations that have chosen to affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention. The last data that I've seen is from 2002. That SBC data noted that 4,742 out of 43,071 churches identified themselves as predominantly ethnic, with 2,085 describing themselves as African-American.

It's worth noting that many of these predominately African-American congregations are dually-aligned with one of the four historically Black Baptist groups.

I would like to remind CB that much of the SBC's success in attracting ethnic congregations is because of Emmanuel McCall, the first African-American to head a national program for the SBC and a former moderator of the CBF. Due to McCall's contributions towards ethnic/racial diversity, there is an annual award presented in his name by the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Network.

CB can use this moment to bash so-called "liberals" and mainline denominations for not having as many predominantly ethnic congregations. Is that real diversity anyways? But where is the racial diversity among Southern Baptist leaders? It was not long ago that Dwight McKissic was expressing shock over learning that the highest ranking African-American employee in Nashville was the janitor.

When comparing the leadership of mainline denominations to the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention, I think it's safe to say that the SBC is not the most diverse group. The CBF is not exactly the most racially/ethnically diverse bunch but we're intentional about including minorities in leadership roles.

Did a large number of minorities come to Louisville as messengers this year?

You might not like Robert Parham but he has a point or two in this recent op-ed:

http://www.ethicsdaily.com/news.php?viewStory=14383

Jim Champion

CB

I have told my politically liberal friends for years that conservatives actually put people to work, let them keep their own money, appointed minorities to the supreme court, cabinet positions etc.

Unfortunately, what has happened in DC has not filtered down to Nashville. The Executive committe and now this one are as I have previously stated, to old, to white and to male.

The BGCT has recognized the growth that has come from the Hispanic churches and will working with those churches to help their students graduate from high school, go to college or get GEDs - in fact they have appointed a Hispanic man to be in charge of this venture - what a concept!

The SBC is going to have to begin appointing members of the minority community to important committees or we will begin to lose the minorities out the back door as quickly as we bring them in the front. The SOUTHERN SBC culture of the 50s is not close to their culture as much as Peter and Volfie want it to be..

cb scott

Big Daddy,

I was praising conservatives not bashing liberals. I don't have to bash liberals. They just show up and begin to talk. They bash themselves. (hint, hint)

Big Daddy, it does not matter if the reporter was a former liberal. It does not matter if McCall had a backslidden period in his life while with the CBF. He did what he did within the SBC.

You can try to blight this if you please. It still stands that the SBC has done more in ethnic and racial diversity that any other with the exception of two.

That is a good thing.

Big Daddy, I'll go one more since this is my last day of blogging for a good while.

When you look at it from the perspective of those with the most biblically sound theology; the SBC is first.

So, Big Daddy, remove us from the count because we are number one of the theologically sound groups and you CBF boys might just be in third place.

Boy Howdy, I bet that would really make you happy would it not, Big Daddy?

cb

cb scott

Jim,

I don't think you can get far more into the Southland than Birmingham, do you?

Jim, the Birmingham Baptist Association is one of the largest baptist associations in the SBC.

Twenty percent of our member churches are Black churches.

We have more than a couple of Black people on our associational missionary team. (One of them is our associational attorney. We have to have a full time attorney because we also own hospitals. (The only local association in the SBC to do so)

Our ministry teams are full of minorities.

Long story short, Jim; This part of the "SOUTHERN SBC" is making great efforts toward ethnic and racial diversity.

How is it in you neck of the woods?

cb

cb scott

BTW, Jim,

We are not stuck in the 50s down here. We are seeking to fulfill the GC with anyone God sends our way. And I think we understand it is 2009 in my part of the SOUTHERN SBC and the world has greatly changed since 1950. Maybe it is your area that needs to catch up.

cb

Dave Miller

Is it productive to argue who has the bigger problem with racial harmony? We SBs have had our struggles. We have repented of our racist past and made steps to change - positive steps.

We just haven't gone far enough.

We need to take more steps in this area, but assigning blame or comparing ourselves to other denominations has no value.

cb scott

Dave,

It would have been productive if you had just simply said Peter's post was a very good and positive thing.

It would have been productive and good had Jim and Big Daddy said the same rathe than always throwing rocks at all thing SBC just because the liberals don't run it anymore.

You boys threw this little ball. I have just called a few dances.

cb

Dave Miller

I believe I have said that it is a good thing - repeatedly.

If all we are allowed to do is agree with the post, though, blogs will lose a little of their joy.

cb scott

Dave,

It would have been productive and good had you not tried to throw a wet blanket on a good report Peter was posting here. You could has said it was a good thing.

If you do not like how things are going where you are; do something about it. But stop raining on the parade.

It would have been good had Jim and Big Daddy said it was a good thing also rather than throwing stones at all things SBC simply because the Liberals don't run the convention anymore.

Then you, Dave come up with this "we just haven't gone far enough" stuff.

Everybody knows "we haven't gone far enough." But that does not mean we should not rejoice in the fact that we have come a long way from where we were, right Dave?

My question to you, my brother, is: What are you doing to help the situation?

What are Jim and Big Daddy and Todd doing?

cb


Dave Miller

I'm not going to argue with you, CB. I think I have expressed both my appreciation for our racial progress and our need to go farther.

I tried to be fair and balanced - the Fox News of blogging!

If this arouses your ire, CB, so be it.

Miller out.

cb scott

Dave,

We both know that I would be the last one to say we had to agree all the time.

But, brother, some things are just self-evident.

And this post was just one of those things.

There was really nothing to disagree about in the post. But there was a great deal to rejoice about. At least that is true from where I am standing in Birmingham, Alabama right now.

Not all things "southern" are in 1950. Southern Baptist work in seeking racial harmony is making progress here. And I, for one, am glad of it. It has been a long, long road.

cb

Big Daddy Weave

I affirmed that Peter was correct with his facts.

You, CB, threw a rock in my direction at my people with this:

"I guess we might say conservatives have actually made progress toward ethnic and racial diversity while liberals only talked about it."

So, I responded to your assertions. Quit whining like a little girl and engage the arguments, analysis and nuance.

That said, I thought Peter made a good point - a point that a historian like myself and religion beat reporter from my alma-mater, Terry Mattingly, can appreciate.

cb scott

Peter,

Thanks for this good and timely post.

It is a fine one for me to end on for a while. I will be gone back in the cave for readin' and writin' till about the end of October.

You keep your powder dry and watch out for your "top knot" when those scalpin' parties come through. I will read from time-to-time just to keep up. And if the Lord is willing and the creek don't rise, I'll see you about Halloween time. :-)

cb

cb scott

Big Daddy,

You are always good for a set-to when needed.

You remember the first time I responded to you about three years ago and called you a "little girl"?

Well, I guess "what goes 'round comes round" don't it? :-)

Big Daddy, I am glad you got married. Maybe that fine lady you married will straighten you out about all this stuff.

BTW, you need to get back in touch with Bob Tenery. He can help you with the "real" history of Baptist life and clear up all the mess they taught you at Baylor.

Seriously, do well Big Daddy and I catch up later about you calling me a "little girl."
:-)
cb

Dave Miller

I actually thought that was kinda funny

Doug

How goes the racial diversity in the National Baptist Convention?

Dave Miller

I guess I don't understand what that has to do with racial diversity in the SBC.

Doug

Because people are always hootin' and hollerin' about racial diversity in predominantly white organizations, but don't say jack squat about it in predominantly black organizations.

It's called a double standard.

Dave Miller

Fine, but it seems a little petty to me. Black religious organizations did not segregate originally because they wanted to, but because they were excluded from white churches.

But, regardless, I am Southern Baptist. I am interested in what we are doing about racial relationships, not so much in comparing us to other organizations.

Peter's post makes the point that we have made progress, for which I am grateful. Now, we just need to finish the work.

volfan007

Jim,

When did Peter or I ever say anything like what you claimed about us when you said,"The SOUTHERN SBC culture of the 50s is not close to their culture as much as Peter and Volfie want it to be.." ??????

Jim, I never said anything about wanting the Churches in the SBC to be SOUTHERN and 1950's style of Churches. Where did you get that? Please explain?

David

John Fariss

I am glad to hear of the progress in out Associations down south, and in the SBC generally. Now: how many of our churches are integrated?

I'm not throwing stones or rocks at anyone. But being from Talladega, Alabama, and having lived also in the Birmingham area and in Montgomery, and pastored SBC churches in North Carolina and Virginia--I just haven't seen it. In fact, I have seen prejudice up close and personal in many of those churches. I had a cousin who was DOM in the Bessemer Association; after preaching at a downtown B'ham church, they invited him to submit his resume for the pastorate there, I suppose 25 or so years ago. He told them that if he were their pastor, he would insist they reach out to their community, which included large numbers of street people as well as African Americans. They didn't ask him again, and shortly after they got a new pastor, they relocated to the mostly white suburbs. We too have predominantly black churches in our Association. But our DOM was at the church I serve a few Sundays ago (Maryland), and afterwards he commented to me, "Wow! You really do have a lot of African Americans worshipping here," which suggests to me that not many of our churches even in the DC suburbs are really reaching folks other than whites.

I affirm the progress we have made. I just suspect we have farther to go than some think.

John

Chris Gilliam

Peter,

Based on the area you and I both have pastored, I know you understand the difficulty and a few successes related to your subject post. I would like to add a few thoughts:

When I was in Raleigh, NC I was on staff at a church that was constituted in 1790. All of the documents were avalible from then to now. In the minutes fom 1863(hight of the war between the states) there were two events that were recorded. The first one recorded were 20 people and 20 coloreds were baptized at the river. The second was where one lady and two of her servants were baptized at the river, "there was great solemnity". I read this from the baptistry as I was baptizing two black girls, the firt since 1863. I asked some old timers what happened, why the change? They indicated that the blacks wanted their own worship place and preacher after the war and the the church notonly donated the land but helped build and fund the new building. They told me it ws years later when the segregation got staunch.

Which leads me to another thought, how many black churches are doing their fair reach across the aisle. Since you know where I was in Clayton county, I pray tell you understand well the spirit in which I offer the thought. I have had several black men preach, pray, an dlead worship for me, but I don't recall but a single occasion wher the role was reversed.

just thinking
Chris

volfan007

Chris,

Exactly.

The church that I pastor had two black women who were charter members. They were both slaves. They attended Church with the whites.

Today, we have some black folks visiting our Church on a regular basis. As of today, I have had no one...not one...say anything negative about it. When I was talking to them about coming here, I told them that I would be sharing the Gospel with whoever...no matter how poor, and no matter what color. They all said that's ok with us.

I live in the South, BTW.

David

Chris Gilliam

David,

You indeed know what I'm talking about. I have always lived in the south and I indeed take 1 John seriously.

Just to continue my thought a bit. I discipled a young black man and we hve had many conversations on what our church could do better to reach out to the large segment of blacks around it. It is easy to focus on what whites should do. I posed the question to him, "would you go with me to the local black SBC congregatoin and see if they will allow me an opportunity to demostrate that they too do what it takes to diversify?" His first reaction was "that will never happen." We had a long talk afterwards, but it was the first time someone had exposed to this young man that reaching out goes both ways.

I live in the south too.

volfan007

Chris,

To go a little further, most of the Black Churches in my area worship so differently than the White Churches, that it's more of a cultural difference, than it is a racial divide. The Black Baptist Churches worship in such a different style, that they dont want to come to a White Church...and vice versa.

Now, I'm not saying that there is no racism in White Churches, and I'm sure that there is racism in Black Churches; but really, it's more of a cultural thing in my mind.

BTW, I know of a Church in MS that was courted strongly by the local Association in that area. The Black Churches Pastor wanted to join the Assoc. But, one of the most influential Deacons in that Black Church would not let it happen. He was not about to join with Whites!!!

David

Chris Gilliam

So it begs a bigger question: Are cultural worship expressions a good reason to segregate? I know we have Romanian baptist churches in the states that worship in english but segregated to Romanians alone. In the NT I think one might could both ways from silence.

John Fariss

David,

You said, "The Black Baptist Churches worship in such a different style, that they dont want to come to a White Church...and vice versa."

I have heard that all my Christian life too; and without doubt, there is a grain of truth to the first part of the statement, that black and white churches have, by and large, evolved different worship styles. However, the presuppositions of this statement includes (1) that all African Americans want the style of worship which is prevelent in the black church, (2) that "we" are talking about "reaching" African Americans who are already in black churches and are acclimated to a different worship style rather than those who are unchurched and have no expectations about worship styles, and (3) that African Americans who are seeking a new church home would automatically reject the style of worship which has developed in white churches in favor of the style of many/most African American churches.

As the pastor to a multi-racial and multi-ethnic congregation, my experience suggests those presupositions are faulty. Are you sure that the conventional wisdom about different styles is not a convenient excuse to maintain a segregated congregation?

John

volfan007

John,

No, it's not a convenient excuse. It's just the truth in the rural South.

We have several Black folks visiting our Church right now. I hope they continue to come. I would love to see them join...of course, one of them is very young and needs to be saved first.

John, are you familiar with rural, Southern culture?

David

John Fariss

Please, David. You don't get any more rural Southern that being born and raised at the foot of Horn's Mountain, on the Talladega-Clay county lines in east Alabama, raising cows, plowing with a John Deere tractor older than I was, on a hill farm on a dirt road ten miles from the nearest town and nearly a half mile from the nearest neighbor.

I still maintain that it is an excuse--and that comes from my own experiences.

John

volfan007

So, John, now that I know that you are a Southern, country boy, are you telling me that the Black folks and the White folks from your neck of the woods sing the hymns the same? Preach the same style? services last the same length of time? wear the same kind of clothes? take up offerings the same? etc.????

The cultural differences are pretty big around W. TN and N. MS. And, like I said, I have heard of some Black folks who wouldnt come to White Churches, nor be very welcoming of Whites in thier Churches. I know for a fact about the Assoc. that I used to be a part of..pursuing a large, Black Church in N. MS. We actively pursued them to become a member of our Assoc. The Pastor wanted to, but his Deacons did not want to join with Whites!!!!

Now, John, I do have some people of color visiting my Church at this time. I share the Gospel with whoever around town. I have invited Black folks to come to my Church.

David

John Fariss

David,

Look back at what I said. The issue is NOT whether different styles have evolved or not--I acknowledge that they have. The issue is whether or not African Americans are attracted only to the style which has evolved in the African American church, especially if they are unchurched. And if the answer to that is no, as your own successful efforts in inviting African Americans attests, then, at least in those churches which remain segregated, I suggest the conventional wisdom that "The Black Baptist Churches worship in such a different style, that they dont want to come to a White Church...and vice versa" is being used as a convenient excuse to not reach out to African Americans.

John

John Fariss

And BTW: I have to think that black churches being less than warm to white visitors and to associating with white Associations is somewhat a different issue. If your ancestors had first been allowed only to attend church in locked "slave galleries" even while being told that in Jesus there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave or free, if they they had been removed from membership altogether for no reason other than the color of their skin and that they were freed, if your ancestors were denied the rights of citizens to vote by various legal mechanisms and denied to buy houses where ever they could afford, if they suffered lynchings and an inequitable legal system, as well as second-rate schools--how anxious would you be to embrace those folks? In fact, that there were never race wars in the South and that some churches are integrated, at least marginally, seems to me to attest that African Americans are more forgiving than most whites would be.

John

Chris Gilliam

or John it attest to a lesser held opinion today that much of the stuff you wrote about is exploited and embellished (for many reasons, money not the least of them)and the race relations were better than first thought. Perhaps the abusiveness was not as pervasive as currently thought. For the record, I grew up in a farming town in South Fl with better that 50% mixture of races and whites are the minority. I worked hard at stimulating across the aisle fellowship, still do. I even received an award in 2005 from the NAACP in Atlanta.

John Fariss

I would agree, Chris, that is a perspective that many whites, especially Southerners, find attractive--indeed, I do too. But I would have to see some sort of documentation before I could believe it.

Even then, would you not agree that perception becomes "reality" (in that it is what people act upon) for all of us? If so, I think what I have written is the general perception in the African American community. Based on my own experience, I suspect that lynchings were not very wide-spread; nonetheless, they happened in sufficient quantity to keep control over the black community. And as far as the rest of what I mentioned--brother, I have seen antebellum Baptist churches with slave galleries, I have seen (as a kid and a teenager)how poll taxes kept African Americans away from the polls and how laws were selectively enforced, and as a young police officer in the 1970s, I knew law enforcement officials in Montgomery and have heard them speak of the things they did during the civil rights demonstrations, and I knew others who told me firsthand what officials in Selma and Birmingham did.

Now: I am gladened that in your community, terrible things did not happen, and that you have worked hard to "stimulate across the aisle felowship." For the record, they did not happen in my home town either--the police officers there, including my father, the civil authorities, and those leading the Civil Rights movement, they all were decent men, and they made sure peace was kept and both sides were non-violent. But it wasn't that way in every town in the South; and even if it was in a majority of them, things went bad in enough of them to poison, or at least harm, relationships. Remember Exodus 34:7, "Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation"? My great-grandfather, down from whom I am the fourth generation, was a slave-owner and an officer in the Confederate Army (Co. I, 60th Georgia, Jackson's or II Corps, Army of Northern Virginia), fighting to maintain the Southern "way of life." And of the generation that opposed the Civil Rights struggle, I am only the second generation. I pray that it will not take two more generations before all the bitterness leaves from that--but I am cynical enough to have my doubts.

John

Chris Gilliam

John,

Thanks for the stories, indeed they help stimulate conversation. I am glad my point is taken, even if it is with reservations. I work hard at understanding and also helping others understand. The dialog sometimes is shocking, but always ina spirit of love. Here is a stroy I often share with my black friend when we try to breack down walls.

My grandmother who was born in 1921 witnessed a public hanging of 2 black men at her father's urging when she was 9. From that day til this present she is morbidly afraid of black men. Her supposed "racism" is not out of hatred but fear. When I tell my black friend this terrible tragedy and the fall out, I see them take on a new paradigm and look at how to create even more dialog. Anyway, I have enjoyed this conversation and look forward to better days at future conventions.

One last anedote. I had a deacon ask me to pray with him that God would change his racism. I prayed, "Lord make his mansion in Harlem, Amen." He looked at me and with tears in his eyes stated I must learn to live with them here. And he did!!

volfan007

Chris,

Mansion in Harlem...lol.

BTW, John, my great great grandfather was a sargeant in Nathan Bedford Forrest's calvary. I had another ancestor who was killed at Shiloh fighting for the South. Neither one of them had slaves. They were fighting for the state of TN.

David

John Fariss

David, if they were fighting for the state of Tennessee, for the Confederacy, they were fighting for the Southern way of life, which included slavery.

I will grant that the face and nature of slavery would have been changed, perhaps even eventualy ended, regardless of the outcome of the war, but that speculation won't take us anywhere. The fact is: regardless that most Southerners were yeoman farmers, with few if any slaves, slavery was the infastructure of the Southern states.

Your ancestor at Shiloh might have met another of mine. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Shiloh. (Although his parents were from Tennessee, and his grandparents from Georgia, they moved to Indiana.)

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