‘All Souls Matter’: HBCU Students Protest Southern Baptist Convention’s Indifference to the Spiritual Needs of African-Americans When It Comes to Campus Outreach

After his experience as the only African-American at an all-white meeting about reaching America’s campuses, Greg Drumwright (left) sought to remind Southern Baptist leaders that “all souls matter.” (Citadel Campus Ministries)
After his experience as the only African-American at an all-white meeting about reaching America’s campuses, Greg Drumwright (left) sought to remind Southern Baptist leaders that “all souls matter.” (Citadel Campus Ministries)

African-American demonstrators gathered Nov. 18 near James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., to protest what they claim is racial bias in the Southern Baptist Convention’s efforts to evangelize students at American colleges and universities.

About two dozen students from historically black colleges and universities chanted “all souls matter” to draw attention to an alleged lack of racial diversity at a Nov. 16-18 gathering of the Collegiate Church Planting Collaborative, an initiative of the SBC North American Mission Board.

“At a time when the SBC is making headlines for its declaration of reconciliation with blacks in America, the organization continues to characterize and exhibit systemic prejudice and practices that are unacceptable, inequitable and ungodly,” the group alleged in a press release Nov. 16.

The stated reason for protesting the Collegiate Church Planting Collaborative was “because its leaders have ignored the call for meaningful dialogue regarding racial inclusion in its mission work on college campuses across America.”

The collaborative “has deliberately excluded black students and black colleges in its mission work related to the college experience,” the press release claimed.

That exclusion “has a vast, direct and adverse impact” on historically black colleges and universities (HCBUs), it continued, because few have Baptist campus ministries and none were informed or invited to collaborate with the CCPC.

“This is telling of the organization’s leadership agenda and scheme to maintain and perpetuate a white, patriarchal base for the collegiate planting division,” the press release continued. “This shows that the SBC CCPC only intends to focus and extend its resources to predominantly white institutions across America.”

North Carolina pastor Gregory Drumwright, a minister to college students, organized the protest after exchanging emails with NAMB officials voicing his concerns after attending a Collegiate Church Planting Collaborative gathering in Oakland, Calif., in February.

“Overall, I have not had a positive experience at the collaborative because of some systemic processes and fundamental values that have been compromised, as it relates to diversity and inclusion,” Drumwright wrote in an open letter to CCPC leaders and stakeholders Feb. 11.

Drumwright, who while a student at North Carolina A&T State University established the Citadel of Praise Church and campus ministry in Greensboro, N.C., in 2003, said he was invited by a friend to attend the meeting and was surprised on arrival to find he was the only African-American there.

“Aside from the Asian host-church staff, being in this bleach-white association and gathering, wherein the core values expressed missions to reach, empower and represent all people, is not only uninviting, but it is no longer acceptable,” he wrote.

“Segregated strategy is no longer how our country is run, nor our businesses, and more specifically, our college campuses,” Drumwright said. “It’s time to cross this bridge when it comes to our discussions about reaching the lost for Jesus, at the Collegiate Church Planting Collaborative level as well.”

After he pointed in subsequent emails “there are more than 100 historically black colleges and universities in America, and they need Jesus, too,” Drumwright said NAMB officials ignored him before finally responding with a dismissive email apologizing for a lack of communication in March.

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SOURCE: Baptist News Global
Bob Allen

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