On June 29, Senator Mary Landrieu submitted a resolution in the United States Senate that congratulates the Southern Baptist Convention for electing Rev. Fred Luter as its first African American president. The resolution has been referred to the judiciary committee and awaits disposition. You can download a PDF of the resolution here, or you can read it below.
Senate Resolution 518
Whereas the Southern Baptist Convention formed in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, in opposition to the abolition of slavery;
Whereas the Southern Baptist Convention supported racial segregation for much of the twentieth century;
Whereas the Southern Baptist Convention issued a resolution stating that the Convention sought to purge itself and society of all racism in 1978;
Whereas the Southern Baptist Convention issued a resolution denouncing racism as a deplorable sin in 1995;
Whereas, in 2012, the Southern Baptist Convention is a cooperative of more than 45,000 churches that seek diligently to bring about greater racial and ethnic representation at every level of Southern Baptist institutional life;
Whereas Reverend Fred Luter, Jr., was born on November 11, 1956, in New Orleans, Louisiana;
Whereas Reverend Luter preached his first church sermon in 1983 at the Law Street Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana;
Whereas Reverend Luter became the pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in 1986;
Whereas, under the leadership of Reverend Luter, the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church community grew from 65 members in 1986 to more than 7,000 members in 2005;
Whereas the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church was destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina and lost approximately 2,000 members;
Whereas Reverend Luter, in cooperation with Reverend David Crosby, found a temporary home for Franklin Avenue Baptist Church during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina;
Whereas, continuing that spirit of cooperation, Reverend Crosby nominated Reverend Luter to become president of the Southern Baptist Convention;
Whereas Reverend Luter was elected to be the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention on June 19, 2012; and
Whereas the election of Reverend Luter brings great pride and honor to the membership of the Southern Baptist Convention: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) congratulates the Southern Baptist Convention for electing Reverend Fred Luter, Jr., as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention;
(2) acknowledges Reverend Luter’s unique role as the first African-American leader of the Southern Baptist Convention; and
(3) honors the commitment of the Southern Baptist Convention to an inclusive faith-based community and society.
This is an encouraging announcement. I am curious, though, about the very last line: That the senate . . . “(3) honors the commitment of the Southern Baptist Convention to an inclusive faith-based community and society.”
What do you make of the word “inclusive.” In common parlance, ‘inclusive,’ seems to indicate something more than racial reconciliation a la Ephesians 2:1ff. While I rejoice that this resolution would go before the U. S. Senate, I also think that such a word could be easily misleading or misunderstood. It attaches a label typically used in ecumenical discussions, and it distorts the reality that the SBC proclaims an exclusive gospel–not based on color, but based on Christ.
My fear, is that in the same way that homosexual groups have co-opted Civil Rights language, the use of ‘inclusive’ describing Southern Baptists, could say something more or different than what Southern Baptists would say about ourselves. I realize the Senate is not going to laud the SBC for its gospel merits, but I do think that the whole phrase “inclusive faith-based community and society” misrepresents what Southern Baptists—of any color—are.
What do you think?
That caught my eye too, David. I think it’s vague on purpose. I think they’re trying to make it as bipartisan as possible.
Sounds great, but I wish they would cut out the part about our “pride”. As Christians, we know that pride is not the good thing that the world considers it to be, and I hope we are not guilty of it. I still appreciate the resolution.
dr. james willingham
To a White Southern Baptist minister who was encouraged to attend a Black University (Lincoln Univ., Mo) by members of my first church, the Pilot Knob Baptist Church of Belle, Mo. in the Fall of 1962 and would graduate from that University in Jan., 1967 and would go on to study Black History at Morehead State in Ky., the Univ. of South Carolina and Columbia Univ. in NY and at the latter institution write a prospectus for a doctoral dissertation in Black History and the do a Doctor of Ministry project on Christian Love & Race Relations at SEBTS, the election of a Black minister to the Presidency of the SBC is blessing that brings tears to my eyes. I also taught American History for two years at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, SC ’70-72. It is a stirring, moving, inspiring thought that Southern Baptists have begun to move to the true fulfilment of their Christian commitment.