Bruce helped put together a new blog for "centrist" baptists. A recent post noted the recent decision by a Mississippi church took the issue of church membership to another level. While Henderson Hills wrestled with the location of baptism in the scheme of membership and the Kingdom of God many of us were drawn to clarify or re-consider our own understanding of these themes. What we find in this story moves way beyond what I could imagine – except, of course, if you caught the first installment of Primetime’s, The Outsiders.
Here is a clip from the piece that ran in This Lamp.
In July the ironically named Fellowship Baptist Church in Saltillo, Mississippi, held revival services. During those revival services, 12-year-old Joe, a boy of biracial descent "accepted Jesus into his heart." On August 6, at the church’s business meeting, the all-white congregation voted to exclude blacks from its services, including Joe because they did not want him to bring his family members to worship services.
So, Jesus says you have a place in my Kingdom but those in Saltillo respond, "Well that may be but not in our church." It would not be so startling if it were not that we live in an area ourselves where racism may appear to be a non-issue but once below the line of public appearance even "Christian" folks prefer to stand on abortion, pornography and alcohol use than address the systemic evil that is racism.
Greg and I were talking recently about the ethics class he is teaching. Once we determine how we formulate our ethic we must apply that across the board. We cannot pick and choose what issues on which we will stand. The article in The Lamp noted,
The only bright spot in the entire event is that the church’s pastor, Rev. John Stevens took a stand and chose to resign that very night rather than stay another day in service to a racist church. One other family, that of a Tupelo police officer, also left the small church that averages about 30 members. According to the Christianity Today Weblog, this story is surprisingly getting very little attention from the press so far.
Notice the last line – "surprisingly getting very little attention from the press so far." At some point, the Kingdom must matter. At some point, it must matter to those of us living in the Kingdom. It may not be easy to discuss some of these issues for fear deap seated prejudices will rip friendships asunder. The pastor took the high road. How many of us will stand with the ethic of Jesus and say, "In the Kingdom, and in our church?"