(Editor’s note: Dr. Paul Chitwood sent this message to all IMB field personnel and staff on Thursday, June 4.)
Greetings, brothers and sisters,
“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:9-11 (ESV)
While the world continues to be rocked by the ongoing cases and lasting effects of COVID-19, we’re also reeling by stark, vile reminders of the brokenness caused by sin that verifies our very reason to exist as an entity: to take the gospel to those who have never heard.
Racism is sin. That’s true in the individual heart. It’s no less true of racist systems. Bigotry is sin. Prejudice is sin. Acts and attitudes of individual and institutional racism are never acceptable, and we stand strongly against such acts and attitudes. We must lament for the personal sins, the sins of our nation and the sins of our world, including the sin of systemic racism.
The definitive solution to the sin of racism is Jesus. In Jesus, who loves us unconditionally, we can — and must — love unconditionally. In Jesus, we can put aside prejudice and see the beauty of God’s image in every person. The gospel creates a level playing field for all humankind. Every single life has immeasurable value to God, for we are His and wholly loved by Him. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” John 13:34 (ESV).
As an organization, let us seek to model the statement made by our Southern Baptist Convention’s leadership that we “must not only be known to stand for the sanctity of human life, but we must also be known to stand for the dignity of all human life regardless of the color of skin.” Earlier this week, I joined other convention leaders in signing a statement on the death of George Floyd (full text below). As a matter of obedience and devotion, followers of our Lord cannot remain silent when our brothers and sisters, friends and/or people we seek to win for Him are mistreated, abused or killed.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd has reminded Southern Baptists — and I wholeheartedly support this foundational stance — that our convention “believes and stands upon the infallibility, inerrancy, and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, and we believe those Scriptures are very clear regarding how we are to treat others.” The Baptist Faith and Message states in Article XV, “In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism,” and “We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.” Might our conduct fully match our confession.
I want to again express our love, support, and appreciation not only to the thousands of African American fellowships and churches in the Southern Baptist family but also to the African American members of our IMB family. I’m sorry for the pain and trauma you are experiencing and the hate you have endured. Thank you for being part of our family and helping us be part of the solution. I pledge to you that we will work harder to diversify our organization and be more intentional with formal conversations about racism, systemic racism, and how to empower minorities in our organization.
“Whoever loves his brother abides in the light …”
We can do better. We must do better. We must continue to shine the Light.
(Editor’s note: First published on Baptist Press)
As a convention of churches committed to the equality and dignity of all people, Southern Baptists grieve the death of George Floyd, who was killed May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minn.
While all must grieve, we understand that in the hearts of our fellow citizens of color, incidents like these connect to a long history of unequal justice in our country, going back to the grievous Jim Crow and slavery eras. The images and information we have available to us in this case are horrific and remind us that there is much more work to be done to ensure that there is not even a hint of racial inequity in the distribution of justice in our country. We grieve to see examples of the misuse of force, and call for these issues to be addressed with speed and justice.
While we thank God for our law enforcement officers that bravely risk their lives for the sake of others and uphold justice with dignity and integrity, we also lament when some law enforcement officers misuse their authority and bring unnecessary harm on the people they are called to protect. We further grieve with our minority brothers and sisters in the wake of George Floyd’s death, pray for his family and friends and greatly desire to see the misuse of force and any inequitable distributions of justice come to an end.
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the Bible speaks to matters of justice and human dignity. We are taught by Scripture that human beings are distinct among the rest of creation as those beings which bear the divine image. From the beginning of life to the end, all human beings, both male and female–of all ethnicities, colors and ages–are sacred beings that God values and loves.
Throughout the law, the prophets, the gospels and the entire canon of Scripture, murder is condemned and God’s people are called to protect the vulnerable. The Bible further condemns injustice and the misuse of authority and force. And in the example of Jesus Christ, God’s people are called to love others, care for their needs, grieve with them in brokenness and labor for the well-being of our neighbor. To follow Christ is to follow in these examples He puts before us.
Therefore, as a matter of Christian obedience and devotion, followers of Jesus Christ cannot remain silent when our brothers and sisters, friends and/or people we seek to win for Christ are mistreated, abused or killed unnecessarily.
Therefore, we pray for our local, state, and national leaders as they seek justice, and call on them to act quickly and diligently to ensure that these situations are brought to an end. As a people, Southern Baptists stand ready to help towards that end. May God give us His favor, help and strength in this effort.
James K. Dew, Jr.
President, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
President, Southern Baptist Convention
Pastor, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
1st Vice President, Southern Baptist Convention
President, National African-American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention
Pastor, Antioch Baptist Church, Fairfax Station, Va.
2nd Vice President, Southern Baptist Convention
Senior Pastor, North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix, Ariz.
Registration Secretary, Southern Baptist Convention
Recording Secretary, Southern Baptist Convention
Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director
Ronnie W. Floyd
Treasurer, Southern Baptist Convention
President & CEO, SBC Executive Committee
President, International Mission Board
President, North American Mission Board
President, GuideStone Financial Resources
President & CEO, LifeWay Christian Resources
President, Gateway Seminary
Jason K. Allen
President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Danny L. Akin
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Adam W. Greenway
President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Russell D. Moore
President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Executive Director/Treasurer, Woman’s Missionary Union
Rick Lance, Alabama State Baptist Convention
Randy Covington, Alaska Baptist Convention
David Johnson, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention
J. D. “Sonny” Tucker, Arkansas Baptist State Convention
Bill Agee, California Southern Baptist Convention
Nathan Lorick, Colorado Baptist General Convention
Fred MacDonald, Dakota Baptist Convention
J. Thomas Green, Florida Baptist Convention
W. Thomas Hammond, Jr., Georgia Baptist Convention
Christopher Martin, Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention
Nate Adams, Illinois Baptist State Association
Steve McNeil, State Convention of Baptist in Indiana
Tim Lubinus, Baptist Convention of Iowa
Robert Mills, Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists
Todd Gray, Kentucky Baptist Convention
Steve Horn, Louisiana Baptist Convention
Kevin Smith, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware
Timothy Patterson, Baptist State Convention of Michigan
Leo Endel, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention
Shawn Parker, Mississippi Baptist Convention
Barrett Duke, Montana Southern Baptist Convention
Kevin White, Nevada Baptist Convention
Terry Dorsett, Baptist Convention of New England
Joseph Bunce, Baptist Convention of New Mexico
Terry Robertson, Baptist Convention of New York
Milton Hollifield, Jr., Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
Randy Adams, Northwest Baptist Convention
Jack P. Kwok, State Convention of Baptists in Ohio
D. Hance Dilbeck, Jr., Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Barry Whitworth, Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania-South Jersey
Felix Cabrera, Convention of Southern Baptist Churches in Puerto Rico
Gary Hollingsworth, South Carolina Baptist Convention
Randy C. Davis, Tennessee Baptist Convention
David W. Hardage, Baptist General Convention of Texas
Jim W. Richards, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
Rob Lee, Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention
John V. Upton, Jr., Baptist General Association of Virginia
Brian Autry, Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia
Eric Ramsey, West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists
Quin Williams, Wyoming Southern Baptist Mission Network