By Ann Lovell
IMB Editorial Design Manager
SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — Bartholomew Orr believes in racial reconciliation, and he believes that reconciliation comes through a shared commitment to missions.
Orr has served as senior pastor of Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven, Mississippi, since 1989. A vibrant church with a rich history, Orr and his congregation want to serve as an example of a church that leads the way in local, national and international missions.
“This is our season to lead, and I believe God is calling us to lead on so many fronts,” he said. “One of those is racial reconciliation. … Anyone who does a quick history lesson will discover one thing that has always brought Baptists together is mission work.”
Although it is located in Mississippi, Orr’s church is a member of the Mid-South Baptist Association in Tennessee.
Orr emphasizes that the word “missionary” is embedded in the church’s name. Unfortunately, he says, he hasn’t seen many African American missionaries.
“There are so few African Americans on the mission field actually doing the work,” Orr said. “I think God has just positioned us to really be that catalyst, that change agent.”
As a result, Orr leads his congregation to volunteer in schools, nursing homes and prisons. The church also sends out teams of all ages, nationally and internationally.
Orr recently led a mission trip to Zimbabwe. It was Orr’s first time to serve on a volunteer mission team.
“Wouldn’t you know it, my heart just went out for Africa,” Orr said.
“Ministry and mission really go hand-in-hand,” Orr said. “You can do things locally in your community, nationally and then on an international basis because that is what God has called you to do.”