Monday, April 24, 2006

Alliance of Baptists Convocation Focuses on Racial Reconciliation

The Alliance of Baptists meeting in Birmingham Alabama elected Jim Hopkins (left), pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland, CA, as its next president. Jim has been very active in Community Organizing and is a strong supporter of interfaith relations. For details click:

At the Birmingham meeting, the Alliance focused on racial reconciliation. During the opening worship's confession time, David Gooch of Nashville held up two signs that pointed to "Colored Only" restrooms and water fountains. These signs were a regular sight during the time he grew up in Mississippi. Offended by those signs, he confessed, that he stole them. The problem these days though is that although racism is still rampant, the signs are not that obvious. They are now more subtle, causing many to discount it.

The preacher at the opening worship was Dr. Willie Jennings of Duke Divinity School. He spoke of the power of stories that keep us bound. In the struggle between our need to acceptance and the fear of rejection we often stay with the old stories. But the new storytellers are the people with power, he said.

The previous day, I spoke briefly to the Board of Directors to let them know the new thinking that is going on in interfaith relations. A new question has come to focus in our thinking because of the work of the Alliance of Baptists: the connection between racism and interfaith relations. At our last Commission meeting we agreed to make that an important agenda item for our conversations.


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