A longtime pastor of a Texas church has decided to remain in the Southern Baptist Convention despite its historic issues of racial diversity and its embrace of the alt-right. The pastor, who did successfully help get a resolution passed condemning the alt-right at this year’s convention, believes that his presence in the group may help it become more inclusive and sensitive to the needs of the Black churches in its membership.
The black pastor who introduced the resolution condemning the alt-right at the SBC’s annual meeting is explaining why, despite the denomination’s failure to pass it initially, he is remaining a Southern Baptist.
In an editorial in The Washington Post, Dwight McKissic, who for 33 years has been the senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, responded to a New York Times piece by Lawrence Ware, a black academic and minister who announced he was departing the Southern Baptist Convention — the nation’s largest evangelical Protestant group.
Please read my article, “Why I’m staying in the SBC.” https://t.co/TH9SLhewZt
— Dwight McKissic (@pastordmack) August 4, 2017
Ware said he was leaving for several reasons, including the group’s stance on LGBTQ issues, the massive support for President Donald Trump and his policies within the denomination, and the hiccup that occurred in passing the resolution authored by McKissic condemning the alt-right and white nationalism at the SBC annual meeting in June. The resolution ended up passing with near unanimity after it underwent an edit and Russell Moore, president of the denomination’s policy arm, spoke out in support of it from the convention floor.
“Whether the committee’s members consider it a factor in their decision, the panel is largely made up of people who are white, people with historical power and privilege,” McKissic wrote of the resolution committee’s initial rejection of his resolution prior to its revision.
“Of course, you have what you are born with, but people with power and privilege need the voice of racial minorities to understand our different experiences. Because the committee contained only one nonwhite member of 10 members, the panel failed to prioritize the need to subvert white supremacy in all its expressions.”
But while there are “plenty of things in the SBC that make [him] uncomfortable,” McKissic wrote that he opted to stay for three reasons: his long personal history with the group, the financial generosity and support he has received from SBC national leaders, and his desire to see Jesus’ prayer answered that the church would be united. For the church to have such oneness, the SBC needs to be even more racially integrated and diverse than it is now, he said.
“When the SBC is persuaded to address the needs of African American communities — such as building up the black family, assisting ex-convicts with employment, removing payday loan offices from our neighborhoods, addressing disparities and inequities in the criminal justice system and addressing police brutality — it will have a huge positive impact on black SBC churches,” McKissic continued.