NASHVILLE – Relationships and partnerships between churches of differing racial and ethnic backgrounds and how it extends into the ministry of the local church is the aim of Racial Reconciliation Sunday, according to a leading voice in the SBC.
“We read in Colossians that the Lord is reconciling all things to himself, so I think having a Sunday where we focus on racial reconciliation and the efforts to pursue real racial unity speaks to the continuing commitment of the Southern Baptist Convention to get this right,” said Brent Leatherwood, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) president.
He was this week’s guest on Baptist Press This Week, BP’s weekly video interview program.
The ERLC has created resources for churches as they focus on Racial Reconciliation Sunday recognized on Feb. 26 on the 2023 SBC Calendar of Events.
Leatherwood said that while he hopes churches will observe the emphasis Sunday, his greater hope is that Southern Baptist churches will be looking for ways to promote and participate in reconciliation throughout the year.
“We’re excited about some of the resources that are going to be surfacing later this year from the Unify Project,” he said.
The ERLC hosted a webcast with Fred Luter and Ed Litton on Feb. 9 to provide an update on the Unify Project, an initiative combing the efforts of the SBC and Tony Evan’s ministry, The Urban Alternative.
The Unify Project will sponsor 40 Days of Prayer for Racial Reconciliation beginning Feb. 22.
Luter is the longtime pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist in New Orleans and the only African American to ever be elected SBC president. Litton is the past president of the SBC and senior pastor of Redemption Church near Mobile, Ala.
Leatherwood said he’s been inspired by his own church’s involvement in the work of a nearby school with students from very diverse backgrounds. He says they work to provide backpacks and school supplies at the beginning of the school year but are even more intentional throughout the year.
“We have families in our church that show up to read to them…or help with after-school care. Some mentor in specific subjects to really help these students,” he said.
Leatherwood has been a deacon at The Church at Avenue South in Nashville since 2014.
He talks about John Perkins’ influence on his life in the area of reconciliation as he points to Perkins’ teaching, “…if God provided a way for us to be reconciled vertically then surely we’re to follow that up by reconciliation efforts horizontally.”
“I think that starts with a heart of service and telling people how grateful we are for a God who sent his son to save us and reconcile us to him,” Leatherwood said.
The full interview can be viewed on the Baptist Press YouTube channel. B&R Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee