On Tuesday June 19th the Southern Baptist Convention made history when 7,700 ministers unanimously supported the vote for Rev. Fred Luter, Jr. to become the first Black president of the predominately White denomination. The Southern Baptist Convention is the world’s largest protestant denomination and some would say the whitest. The vote is extremely historic in light of church history, because the Southern Baptist denomination became a separate denomination in 1845 after a regional split with northern Baptist over the issues of slavery. After the Civil War a second split occurred when most Black Baptists in the South separated from white churches and set up their own congregations.
* First posted on Sojourners God’s Politics Blog in October 2008 as apart of a larger conversation about Christian Intentional Communities (or New Monastic Communities), race and class.
The settlement house movement is the foundation of public welfare in the United States. Beginning in the early 19th century within the immigrant enclaves of New York City and Chicago, this movement was led predominately by white middle class Christians who relocated to these communities to live together, serve, and evangelize the poor. During this period the immigrant enclaves of America’s major cities were the abandoned places of the empire. The settlement house movement was the foundation for the field of social work and quite possibly the earliest form of “inner-city ministry.” Out of this work of relocation and social service came the “settlement house,” which was an institution that provided for the social, physical, and spiritual needs of the immigrant poor. The “settlement house movement” became very popular during this era, and some of these institutions have endured until today. I spent many summers working for Hamilton Madison House, one of New York City’s oldest and largest settlement houses. My work at this institution gave me the opportunity to serve immigrant populations who were facing the same issues of poverty that my inner-city African-American community faced.
This blog was first published for Sojourners God’s Politics in response to a online debate about the emergent church, race and homophobia.God’s Politics The Global Emergence Won’t Be Televised
“Religion deals with both earth and heaven, both time and eternity. It seeks not only to integrate men with God but to integrate men with men and each man with himself. On the one hand it seeks to change the souls of men, and thereby unite them with God; on the other hand it seeks to change the environmental conditions of men so that the soul will have a chance after it is changed.” –Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
There have been many reflections and comments about race in the Emergent Church movement, and as someone who has a heart for racial reconciliation I am interested in this conversation. My passion for racial unity comes out of the recognition that the sin of racism has become a stumbling block to many people of color accepting Christ.