In June 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) issued a public apology for the role they played in harming African-Americans by promoting slavery. They harmed African Americans in several ways. The SBC was formed because the National Baptist Convention did not want slaveholders in the convention. So the south formed their own group which they called the Southern Baptist Convention. After the Civil War, they made segregation laws and Jim Crow laws, and continued in their harmful discrimination of the Black man.
Sunday is Juneteenth in Texas. A day we traditionally recognize as being the day that slaves in Texas learned of their emancipation which happened two years earlier. It wasn’t to the slaveowners’ interest to tell the slaves they were made free by the government, so they didn’t.
Finally the government caught up with them and on June 19, 1865, more than 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. Ever since then, June 19 has been celebrated and called Juneteenth.
I am waiting for my Juneteenth by the Southern Baptist Convention. A day that they will come to us and tell us what we have always known, that we are free from bondage and that they welcome us as equal citizens of Christ.
It is a long time coming. It took two years for the slaves to learn they were freemen. We have waited longer than two years. More like 2,000 years.
At the Southern Baptist Convention last week they acknowledged that SBC churches are losing attendance and new converts (as indicated by a reduced number of baptisms). They don’t know why a once thriving and gospel center denomination is on the decline.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, an SBC entity, said ” I also think that Southern Baptist churches have struggled because they’re not engaging their communities well, and so I think there are some methodological shifts that need to take place so that the gospel can be understood in a new generation among people who live where we are — not where we were.”
I would like to tell Dr. Stetzer that it is not only a new generation, but the female half of the population that needs to see the SBC methodological shift.
Stetzer goes on to say he is hopeful leaders will recognize the changes that need to be made. “We need to engage ethnic leaders and [the] next generation, and we need to be more focused on what we’re for and less on what we’re against.”
“I pray that all of us will see the urgency of the moment,” said Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay. “We must make the Great Commission the heart of all we do and say. These latest numbers should be received with a broken spirit and a God-given determination to reach people for Christ.”
What about the women, I would like to ask Dr. Stezer and Dr Rainer. Are you just concerned with the ethnic leaders and the next generation of young men? Or could you possibly be concerned about the next generation of young women who feel the call into ministry, and who are more than willing to lend a new voice to the Great Commission.
This is important to non-Southern Baptists because at the convention Russell Moore made this statement “We are the anchor of the evangelical world”
Whether he is right or wrong about that, Southern Baptists have tremendous influence over other evangelical denominations in how they practice their faith, and what they teach.
Until the SBC gets serious about the decline and looks at all the reasons people are leaving, which includes abuse of women in the homes due to patriarchy, and lack of respect for women as whole persons before God, they cannot begin to grow and prosper and win the world for Christ.
We are waiting for our Juneteenth.