As Baptists, we can claim very little moral high ground when it comes to the issue of racism. Just decades ago, our forefathers owned slaves; we segregated freed slaves in our sanctuaries; during the volatile years of desegregation, we barred African-Americans from entering our sanctuaries and have since lived in the murky, subtle, systemic waters of white privilege. We aren’t perfect, but at First Baptist Greenville, we aren’t all bad. During those same years, being drawn (maybe dragged) by conscience and the Holy Spirit, we blessed and supported the formation of Springfield Baptist Church, ordained a black man to the gospel ministry, and rescinded earlier decisions to prohibit African-American worshipers. In many ways, we reflected our cultural context. In retrospect, we wish the church could have better reflected the kingdom of God instead.
In recent years, we have deliberately attempted to cut a different path. Radical hospitality has guided our story. The inclusion of all people in the work and worship life of the church has been our goal. We don’t always get it right, but we are trying. A part of our effort is our ongoing relationship with Springfield Baptist Church. This year – on Saturday, June 2 – we will join our friends from Springfield for a Demonstration of Unity March from the old First Baptist Church (currently Grace Church) to the Springfield Baptist Church campus (approximated ½ mile). We will gather at our old home place for a photograph at 10:00 am, walk together to Springfield, and there enjoy a BBQ event filled with food, fellowship, inflatables for the children, cornhole for the ‘adult children’ and a performance by Cappuccino Funk. The luncheon foods are provided. Just bring yourself and a dessert to be shared.
Our present cultural context is still struggling with a great racial divide. This is a grand opportunity for us to demonstrate unity. To walk together, eat together, play together, dance together, enjoy conversation, and model for our children the idea of reflecting the kingdom of God rather than reflecting the worst of our culture. Please make plans to attend.