Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Southern Baptists Turn a New Page on Race Relations?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Southern Baptists Turn a New Page on Race Relations?

Article excerpt

Two years ago, when Ferguson, Mo., exploded with racial unrest, the Rev. Ronnie Floyd, then newly elected as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, was inspired to act.

Together with an interracial group of his fellow ministers, he wrote an article entitled, "Now is the time for the racial crisis to end in America," addressing racism as a sin and calling on pastors and churches to address the issue in their congregations and communities.

Since then, the denomination has held several events on the issue, culminating in the SBC's annual meeting on Tuesday. The meeting will focus on a "national conversation on racial unity." Leading the conversation as a featured speaker will be the Rev. Jerry Young, who serves as president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the largest black Christian denomination in the United States.

Southern Baptists have been taking steps to overcome their history as a denomination founded in a split with northern Baptists over slavery. In 2012, the SBC unanimously elected its first African- American president, the Rev. Fred Luter Jr. The SBC's public policy branch has also focused on being more vocal about racism.

Yet some in the denomination have rejected the call to be more deliberate about diversity, making the comparison to racial quotas. …

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