Juneteenth, and freedom still waits

juneteenthI suspect many people had not heard of “Juneteenth” before this week, when the 150th anniversary of the celebration followed by just two days the heartless murder of nine black worshipers in Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The accused assailant is a 21-year-old man with a heart full of hate and a very twisted understanding of reality.

Most southern states were slow in acknowledging the Emancipation Proclamation, which official freed American slaves, refusing to honor the decree until Union forces occupied their territory and declared it the law of the land. The last state in which this happened was Texas. On June 19, 1865, the US Army’s Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the news and enforce the law. The last holdout of slavery had grudgingly succumbed, and the day has been celebrated as “Juneteenth” ever since.

It was a bit of an odd feeling to be in Texas for the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on that 150th Juneteenth day, and to mourn with others the tragedy that had befallen our brothers and sisters in Charleston. The news of freedom reached captive slaves in Texas more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect. Now, 150 years later, some folks in our country still seem to feel that black people are inferior, undeserving of respect, or somehow a threat to the future.

We’re still not free from ignorance, from fear, from intolerance, or from a sad cultural embrace of violence fed by easy access to guns.

What can we do? For now, we can mourn the deaths of innocent victims who welcomed a stranger to pray with them before becoming targets of his senseless rage. We can let it be known that we abhor such violence and grieve with those who continue to suffer hate-inspired discrimination and prejudice. We can seek to be peacemakers and call for pistol-whipped lawmakers to stand up to the NRA and pass serious gun control measures. We can pray for those who suffer, for the one who caused the suffering, and for any other misguided souls who sympathize with his heinous cause.

And we can take every opportunity to bring love and hope and light into a world where there are still too many dark corners.

Juneteenth should be a happy day — not a sad reminder that for many, true freedom is yet a dream.

 

 

Racism is Still a Problem according to a Black Baptist

According to David Shosanya, a black Baptist leader in the UK, apart from statements on racial inclusion, the church has to do a lot to eradicate racism in denominational structures. He has made this comment in a statement he has given to “Keep the Faith”, a Pentecostal magazine. Also, he has mentioned that some might accuse him of washing dirty linen in public as he is a black minister working in a denomination led by whites.

He further said that he wish to point out that affected people read the texts of new testament without attributing the same sentiments towards Jesus who also was a critique of the culture and faith from which he emerged according to the article which was republished in “Baptist Times”.

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Mississippi Church Apologizes for Racism

The following apology was posted on the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, MS today after denying a black couple the ability to marry in their church after it was discovered the were black.

First Baptist Church Crystal Springs, Mississippi
August 5, 2012
A Statement of Restoration and Reconciliation

We the members of the body of Christ known as First Baptist Church Crystal Springs do this day affirm our unchanging belief that Jesus Christ is Lord of the church. Our church is indeed His church. We recognize that He, the Savior, died for all people. Our desire is that our church be open to all who desire to come and know Him, meet with Him, and grow with others who seek to follow Him. We also recognize that our church like any other church is made up of sinful, redeemed, but flawed saints who intentionally at times choose not to follow the Lord’s will.

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SBC Richard Land to Retire

Richard Land, the Baptist radio host who took a beating for some controversial remarks  he made on the Trayvon Martin shooting, plan to retire in 2013. He has been facing an ethics probe into both the Martin comments and also accusations that he plagiarized material for his radio show.

He has been the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for 25 years.

 

For more information see

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/southern-baptist-leader-richard-land-to-retire-after-ethics-probe/2012/08/01/gJQAn1a4PX_story.html