Racial Reconciliation and Beyond!

racial-reconciliation

I have now been the AMD (Association Missions Director) for two years and three months. I have had two big events take place in this role. One of which I want to share with you now and the other I will share next month. Both are very exciting and have now given me a sense of accomplishment and the revelation that “this is what I’m supposed to be doing as the AMD!”

Two and a half weeks ago, March 2nd to be exact, I was invited to speak at the Kingdom Center Ministries Symposium by Reverend Robert West, Sr., Pastor of Kingdom Center Ministries, and K. Marshall Williams, Sr., President of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention. The subject I was given to speak about was, “Racial Reconciliation and Beyond.” The event was held at Kingdom Center Ministries on Charjean Road in Memphis, Tennessee. There were several other men that were asked to play a part in this Kingdom Symposium. First up was a challenge given by the President K. Marshall Williams, Sr. on a season of prayer. Next, Dr. Willie McLauren of the Tennessee Baptist Convention brought us a devotional message with a challenge to “Preach the Cross.” After the devotion message, we had four different sessions. Session 1 was presented by Dr. Elgia Wells, Pastor Emeritus of Simeon Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Wells preached on “Personal Holiness: Practicing the Presence of God” in a powerfully inspiring message.

The second session was shared by two, Dr. Mark Croston, National Church Partnerships Division of Lifeway Christian Resources, Nashville, Tennessee, and myself. Our topic was “Racial Reconciliation and Beyond.” Dr. Croston shared statistics on the “Progression of the African American in the Southern Baptist Convention.” I preached on Mark 15:21 and gave a challenge to “stop talking and start doing,” it’s time to put action behind our words as believers. After Dr. Croston and I spoke, we were asked to participate in a question and answer time. The men and women present then asked our opinions on how we could move past the talk and actually see racial reconciliation take place in our area and in our country, even in a time when it seems that our country is more divided than ever. The third session was presented by Dr. Dennis Mitchell, Pastor of Greenforest Community Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia, who spoke on “Marriage and the Family.” The Fourth Session was led by Dr. Steven Harris the Director of Advocacy for the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Com- mission speaking on the “Gospel and Politics.” The day ended with a worship service that was led by Dr. James Noble, Pastor of Grace Fellowship in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Noble is also the Vice-President of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and with the Tennessee African American Fellowship Mass Choir.

Being asked to participate in the Kingdom Symposium was both an honor and a privilege. The day before I went to preach at this event, I went to get my hair cut in Horn Lake. My barber was a young African American Millennial gentlemen. In our discussion, he asked me this question, “Can you explain to me, why it is that we live together, eat together, go to school together, we shop together, we do so many things together, so why don’t we go to church together?” My response was, “There are many reasons from the Baby Boomers and older, they want to hold on to tradition. (African Americans and whites alike.)

But, from what I see that does not seem to be the issue with the Millennials and Generation Y. They don’t seem to hold on to “tradition” like the older generation. We are commanded to ‘love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and might, and the second is equally important Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love is color blind.” I’m a people watcher. When Rhonda wants to go to the mall, I normally sit in one of the seats and just watch people. One of the things I’ve discovered by watching people is that babies and toddlers are not racist. To be racist is a learned behavior. Racism is something that is taught. When we learn to focus on the One that created us instead of listening to the world that is trying desperately to divide us, we just might learn to love rather than hate.

We have been in roundtable discussions for the two years that I’ve had this job. We have to move past roundtable discussions and swapping pulpits and into the community so they see us locking arms together. Whenever there is an issue in a black community, a latino community, an asian community, or a white community, then we need to come together and lock arms to resolve the issues at hand all in the name of the Love of Christ. The walls of racism will only come down through our building relationships with one another. I finished my message at the Kingdom Symposium with this challenge, and it is the same challenge I have for you: Let us stand with one another, arm in arm, so that our collective communities can see us united and work- ing together for the purpose of furthering the Kingdom of God.

Bro. D.

 

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About Dennis Landrum

Dennis is the Director of Missions at the X-tended Missions Network.