Guest / Limited Access /

The Southern Baptist Convention (sbc), meeting in Atlanta in June, chose its one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary to apologize for "condoning" racism and later on approved a sweeping reorganization of the nation's largest Protestant denomination.

The ink had barely dried on the convention's antiracism resolution when it came under criticism from some black leaders. Yet many others, including evangelist Billy Graham, who spoke at the convention, hailed the historic effort.

The sbc resolution in part states: "We apologize to all African Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime, and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously." The sbc, which has 15 million members and 39,900 congregations nationwide, was formed in 1845 after a split in Baptist ranks over whether slaveholders could serve as missionaries.

"On behalf of my black brothers and sisters, we accept your apology," Gary Frost, sbc second vice president and a black pastor, said at the Georgia Dome convention. "We pray that the genuineness of your repentance will be reflected in your attitudes and in your actions." In 1989, the sbc had approved a resolution against racism. But the 1995 resolution was the first ever to address blacks specifically in a way linked with the slavery issue.

sbc president James B. Henry said passage of the measure was "one of our finest moments in Southern Baptist life." Henry said he views the apology as "a huge statement to the African American community of who we are and what we're about."

Graham, recovering from his collapse from intestinal bleeding at his Toronto crusade earlier in the month, told Southern Baptists, "Only when we individually and ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only CONVERSATIONS
Larry Crabb thinks therapy belongs back in the churches
TrendingResearch Says: Young People Don't Want Hip Pastors
Research Says: Young People Don't Want Hip Pastors
A study of 250 congregations suggests that youth and young adults want substance rather than style.
Editor's PickOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Christianity Today
SOUTHERN BAPTISTS
hide thisAugust 1 August 1

In the Magazine

August 1, 1995

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.