Jean Ward – a church planter, founder of East Atlanta Church, and president of the Georgia Baptist African American Fellowship – shares his thoughts on the Southern Baptist Convention’s passage of Resolution 10 in Phoenix, AZ. The resolution called for the SBC to go on record opposing the Alt-Right Movement and its following by White supremacists.
Whereas I’m happy that the Southern Baptist Convention passed Resolution 10, I’m saddened to see what it took for the resolution to be passed.
Being present and hearing individuals speak on the lack of understanding of the wording and the disagreement about the original verbiage being too inflammatory were things that showed me a general lack of concern for the heart and caring of our Convention’s African-American brothers. My personal belief is that if there is an offense that your brothers have been feeling — especially regarding lingering racism in our nation — and this resolution could help begin the healing process, I don’t think the verbiage, wording, or any elementary procedure should have delayed the vote.
In my estimation, the version of Resolution 10 that passed was a watered-down version that Texas pastor Dwight McKissick presented. It lacked the teeth and, what many considered the necessary “bite” of the originally worded resolution.
Even though it did deal with the denouncing of the Alt-Right movement and all anti-Gospel racist movements, along with denouncing white supremacy, it did not denounce the poor teachings and doctrines that many White Southern Baptist pastors have used in the past to purport racist ideology.
Perhaps the most hurtful are the teachings such as the curse of Noah’s son, Ham (known as the Curse of Ham) to justify the mistreatment and enslavement of African-Americans. I believe for true healing and true conciliation to happen, we have to have more of the tough conversations that many brothers — White and Black — have already been having with me and others in our Convention … conversations that get to the heart of the issue and move beyond rhetoric to actual, tangible solutions.
One other concern stems from the fact that I see the Georgia Baptist Mission Board as more progressive in this area, when comparing it to our national body. I recall making a motion at our 2015 annual meeting in Macon to allow the African-American Fellowship to have a seat on the Executive Committee.
When I first presented it, I was asked if it could be reviewed before being presented on the floor. The committee and I, working together, modified the wording to fit protocol and more clearly state its purpose. The revised document was then recommended to the proper committee for consideration at the next annual meeting, as per our bylaws. This removed any problems with technicalities that could potentially undermine its passage.
In Phoenix, however, Pastor McKissick was not consulted in the rewriting of the resolution and the resulting deletion of the mention of the Curse of Ham. Many of us felt this removed our heartfelt concern about the revival of this false teaching that for more than a century was used to justify slavery and subjugation of the Black race. But more to the point, this was not just about the Black race but a far more devious threat to our nation – it was about a movement, calling itself Christian and generally known at the Alt-Right, that teaches the elevation of one race above all others. That teaching, in the name of Christ, is clearly the direct opposite of what He taught us about God.
Again, I do praise God for the forward-thinking progressiveness that we do have in the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, and I’m grateful that the resolution was finally passed with flying colors. But I do not believe it is the kind of decisive victory that could have really propelled good feelings of progress — at least from the perspective of many of our African-American brothers and some White brothers.
Indeed, this is only a start. We must remember that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. So if we allow any form of discrimination and racism — whether it be through acts of violence or acts of policy — it is unjust, and an affront to the Gospel.
Even though I am somewhat saddened and hurt by the way things went in Phoenix, I will not allow my heart to turn to anger. I applaud the SBC for the passing of this Resolution, which was a momentous time in our denominational history. But I do wonder if it had not been for the media frenzy and the temperament of certain individuals, would this resolution have been passed?
Regardless of the answer we, the member churches of the Georgia Baptist African American Fellowship, do thank God for progress. And in the spirit of that progress, may we continue to forge ahead together for the greater good of our Convention.