FIRST-PERSON: A conversation on racial unity
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, and I will lead "A National Conversation on Racial Unity in America" in Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Dr. Young and I spoke at a rally recently called "Stronger Together," held at the First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss. It was an incredible night, one of my most memorable as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
22 pastors will participate in this conversation
Dr. Young leads the largest predominantly African-American Christian denomination in the United States. This denomination is comprised of 31,000 congregations and 7.5 million members.
Dr. Young and I are each asking 10 local church pastors from across America in our respective conventions to join us in this national conversation on racial unity. We are thankful for every leader or group who is attempting to address this national crisis. Yet, we believe local church pastors and churches can bring a unique perspective on the racial crisis; and in reality, we need to lead the way toward addressing and resolving this crisis.
The 10 pastors representing the Southern Baptist Convention who will join me include the following:
-- K. Marshall Williams, president, National African American Fellowship of the SBC, senior pastor, Nazarene Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pa.
-- Steve Gaines, senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
-- A.B. Vines, former president, National African American Fellowship of the SBC, senior pastor, New Seasons Church, Spring Valley, Calif.
-- Ted Traylor, senior pastor, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla.
-- Marshall Blalock, senior pastor, First Baptist Church Charleston, Charleston, S.C.
-- Ed Litton, Redemption Church, North Mobile, Ala.
-- Timmy Chavis, chairman, Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council of the SBC, senior pastor, Bear Swamp Baptist Church, Pembroke, N.C.
-- Paul Kim, Asian American relations consultant for the SBC, pastor emeritus, Antioch Baptist Church, Cambridge, Mass.
-- Felix Cabrera, director of Red 1:8 Church Planting Network, lead pastor, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City, Okla.
-- Gene Henderson, Mississippi Baptist pastor and leader, Pinelake Church, Brandon, Miss.
Please pray for each of these men and their role on Nov. 4. Also pray for the 10 pastors from the National Baptist Convention who will join Dr. Young.
Others can attend this conversation
The event will take place Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 8:30 a.m. The location will be in section A and B of the ballroom of the Jackson Convention Complex, Jackson, Miss. This event is open to everyone, so if you have an interest, I hope you will join us.
More information is available here.
Join us for Mission Mississippi's Racial Reconciliation Luncheon in Jackson
Neddie Winters is the president of Mission Mississippi. Their mission is to encourage and demonstrate grace in the body of Christ across racial lines, so that communities throughout Mississippi can see practical evidence of the Gospel message. Mission Mississippi believes that through Christ, we can find common ground to build strong relationships and communities for the betterment of all Mississippians, regardless of race. Their vision is, "To be the leading resource and catalyst for Christian racial reconciliation and healing for Mississippi and the world."
The luncheon will take place in sections C, D, and E of the ballroom of the Jackson Convention Complex. If you would like to join us for this luncheon, please go here to learn more. Dr. Young, Dr. Winters, and I would love to meet you.
God is moving among His people
In December 2013, I was in a meeting in Atlanta for prayer and spiritual awakening. We were discussing the need for growing and strengthening relationships between all races and ethnicities. Dr. K. Marshall Williams, a dear friend and now president of the National African American Fellowship of our Southern Baptist Convention, stated to us, "Southern Baptists must reach out and begin having conversations with our brothers with the National Baptist Convention." I never forgot what he said with great passion and conviction.
When I was elected president, I began praying for open doors. Through prayer gatherings, I began to see God bring down the walls that divide races and ethnicities. Then, sadly through the tragedies of Ferguson and other cities in our nation, the burden and conviction became overwhelming.
In the final half of 2014 when racial tension and violence was increasing exponentially, I released an article entitled, "The wounds run deep: Racism and injustice must end and let grace and love begin." This article opened doors into several conversations and experiences.
God used this article to open doors that lead us to these two experiences on Nov. 4 in Jackson, Miss. Our own national prayer meeting at the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention highlighted the need for racial unity and was a catalyst to this opportunity in Jackson. May God use it to His glory. Pray for us. Join us.