Despite the politicking over the Mississippi state flag, despite the murders and fires and continued evil of racism, a tiny cloud of hope is starting to rise over race relations — this according to two men, one black and one white, who spoke recently at a church formerly composed of slaves.
Jacksonian and civil rights legend John Perkins, who received an award from the Southern Baptist Convention on Oct. 28, said he saw the award as a small part of that cloud of hope.
Perkins, along with his wife, Vera Mae, has established multiple organizations dedicated to Christ-centered community development and racial reconciliation.
“My life mission is working for liberty and justice for all. Having lived this life, and then being affirmed by an institution like the Southern Baptists, which originally split (from northern Baptists at least partly to defend slavery) — I’m thankful,” Perkins said.
“Back in the days of Elijah when he took a stand against the idolatry of (that time), there was no rain for three years. Then he saw a little cloud, the size of a hand, but boy he told the people to get ready, it’s gonna rain. I’m an 85-year-old guy wanting to die seeing that little cloud, and I see this (award) as a part of that.”
Russell Moore, a Mississippi native and president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, presented Perkins with the ERLC’s John Leland Religious Liberty Award. The two men spoke at Jackson’s Mount Helm Baptist Church, which originated in the basement of First Baptist Jackson as a slave congregation in 1835.
According to Moore, religious liberty and racial reconciliation “are inextricably intertwined, because both have to do with the dignity of the human being as created in the image of God.”
He noted that the Southern Baptist Convention has an ugly history, one that must be owned and repented of — but he, too, is starting to see some change.
“Just a few years ago, when I would talk about being reconciled together, including on Sunday mornings, what I would often hear from both white and black Christians is, ‘We have our own churches and our own worship styles, and that’s fine,’” Moore said.
“Now I’m seeing more churches (of all races) realizing that Ephesians 3 talks about carnal divisions being torn down. That’s a huge first step. Also, when most people think Southern Baptist, they think white. But among our fastest-growing demographics in our denomination are African American and Hispanic.”
Moore recommended Perkins for the Leland award, and the ERLC’s board of trustees voted in favor of his recommendation.
SOURCE: Katie Eubanks