Missions is at the heart of racial reconciliation, pastor says

Bartholomew Orr believes in racial reconciliation, and he believes that reconciliation comes through a shared commitment to missions.

Orr has served as senior pastor of Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven, Mississippi, since 1989. A vibrant church with a rich history, Orr and his congregation want to serve as an example of a church that leads the way in local, national and international missions.

“This is our season to lead, and I believe God is calling us to lead on so many fronts,” Orr said. “One of those (fronts) is racial reconciliation. … Anyone who does a quick history lesson will discover one thing that has always brought Baptists together is mission work.”

Orr emphasizes that the word “missionary” is embedded in the church’s name. Unfortunately, he says, he hasn’t seen many African American missionaries.

“There are so few African Americans on the mission field actually doing the work,” Orr said. “I think God has just positioned us to really be that catalyst, that change agent.”

As a result, Orr leads his congregation to volunteer in schools, nursing homes and prisons in their community. The church also sends teams of all ages nationally and internationally. Orr led his church to travel to Zimbabwe on a mission trip. It was the pastor’s first time to leave the country and serve on a volunteer mission team.

“Wouldn’t you know it, my heart just went out for Africa,” Orr said. “There is just this commonality. … They are just waiting for someone to share the gospel, to win them to Jesus Christ.”

“Ministry and mission really go hand-in-hand,” Orr said. “You can do things locally in your community, nationally and then on an international basis because that is what God has called you to do.”