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Local Leaders Say Southern Baptists Are Making Strides in Race Relations

By Daniel Cherry | Published 20 Jun 2011 10:07am | comments

The national Southern Baptist Convention has elected it's first African American pastor to the number two position. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the move is getting high praise from religious leaders in Mississippi.

The election of Reverend Fred Luter Jr. to the Vice President position is being seen by some as a landmark moment for the largest Protestant denomination in the country.

At Oakwood Baptist in Brandon, the pastor, Dr. Rick Henson says churches reflect the makeup of their community, and Luter's election reflects a trend among Southern Baptists.

"Within the last 10-15 years there's been a big push to become more multi-cultural for this reason: America is more multi-cultural."

Some say the move indicates people are moving in the right direction. Neddie Winters is the president of Mission Mississippi. A group seeking Christian unity across racial lines.

"This illustrates and demonstrates that grace is greater than race. Many years ago this would have not been the case, but God's grace has brought both the Southern Baptists and the African Americans to the point that we can celebrate this as a wonderful thing that is happening."

Reports from the Southern Baptist Convention shows baptisms and attendance are on the decline. William Perkins with the Mississippi Baptist Convention says ethnic ministries are becoming increasingly important.

"Southern Baptists, Mississippi Baptists have a history. Everybody knows that. We're not proud of it, but we intend to look to the future and not focus on the past because the future is where we need to be."

The Baptist Convention has passed several resolutions in recent years to incorporate greater minority leadership. Including one in 1995 to apologize for the denomination's defense of slavery years ago.





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