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My recent move to Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta has given me new opportunities to understand racial reconciliation in American Christianity—at least how it plays out in my part of the world. The theme that keeps surfacing for me, a white person, is release. True racial reconciliation makes significant demands on both blacks and whites, but let me outline what it is requiring of me at this stage in my life. First let's take the issue of control.

My move to Mercer has given me the opportunity to participate in planning a gathering called the New Baptist Covenant. Scheduled for January 2008 in Atlanta, this event will bring together most of the major Baptist bodies in North America for a conference expected to draw as many as 20,000 people. I have been serving on the program planning committee, under David Goatley, a black Christian scholar-pastor who heads the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention in Washington, D.C.

Our task has been to plan the conference workshops, under the principle of shared leadership in the Baptist family. Leaders of the four participating black Baptist fellowships will join with leaders of the several participating predominantly white Baptist fellowships in every session. We hope this will be the most profoundly integrated event in Baptist history in North America—at least at the black-white level, with power and leadership entirely shared.

It has been humbling and refreshing to sit under the leadership of a black Christian for one of the few times in my life. And David has modeled true Christian leadership by graciously sharing his power with all committee members.

We will witness true racial reconciliation when white evangelicals release power and become more regularly ...

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Do Likewise
David P. Gushee serves as Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University, where he also chairs the Mercer Lyceum initiative on rebuilding democracy. His column ran from 2005 to 2007.
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November 2007

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