Southern Baptist Leaders Call for Integrated Churches

Leaders in the nation's largest Protestant denomination are preaching that integrated churches can be a key driver of racial justice in society. But that could be a hard sell to those sitting in Southern Baptist congregations.

About 20 percent of Southern Baptist Convention congregations are nonwhite but less than 1 percent are multiethnic.

Despite that lack of integration, a phone survey of about 1,000 churchgoers by Lifeway Research found that only 37 percent of evangelicals thought their churches needed to become more ethnically diverse.

The Rev. Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wants that to change. He said that when black Christians and white Christians begin to worship together, they will also stand up for each other.

Some would also like to see concrete efforts to integrate the Southern Baptist Convention, especially at the level of leadership. The Rev. Dwight McKissic, who is a black Southern Baptist pastor in Arlington, Texas, praised recent statements by convention leaders but noted the denomination leadership and that of its seminaries continue to be exclusively white.

McKissic says the church lacks the moral authority to address the world about race until it sets its own house in order.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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