Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Disfellowships Georgia Church for Alleged Racism

The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has disfellowshiped a Georgia church for alleged “intentional discriminatory acts toward individuals based solely on the color of their skin,” according to a recommendation adopted at the EC’s June 11 meeting in Dallas.

The EC also honored R. Albert Mohler Jr. for serving 25 years as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, elected a slate of officers led by chairman Mike Stone of Georgia and heard a report from the EC presidential search committee.

‘Standing against racism & prejudice’

In disfellowshiping Raleigh White Baptist Church of Albany, Ga., the EC acted ad interim on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention, stating the congregation “does not presently meet the definition of a cooperating church under Article III [of the SBC Constitution] and that messengers from the church should not be seated at meetings of the Convention until such time as the church declares repentance for its actions and takes appropriate steps to restore its fellowship with the Convention.”

Outgoing EC chairman Stephen Rummage told Baptist Press, “Southern Baptists are not only on record but strongly committed to standing against racism and prejudice. And if a church stands for racism and prejudice, then they do not stand with us, and we do not stand with them.”

According to written background material provided to EC members, Raleigh White — a small congregation comprising predominantly senior adults — invited a predominantly African American congregation about three years ago to share its space but subsequently experienced conflict with that congregation, New Seasons Church of Albany.

The conflict “reportedly came to a head in March” after two years of escalating tension, when New Seasons visitors inadvertently arrived at the shared facility during Raleigh White’s homecoming service and were turned away, according to the background materials. “A daughter of one of the visitors asked to use the restroom and reportedly was told she could use the convenience store down the road.”

The Georgia Baptist Mission Board (GBMB) and the local Mallary Baptist Association both tried unsuccessfully to mediate the conflict between Raleigh White and New Seasons, according to the background material. The Mallary Association withdrew fellowship from Raleigh White April 3, and the GBMB sent a letter April 9 informing the congregation it was no longer affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

An EC staff member contacted individuals aware of the situation at Raleigh White, the EC’s Administrative Committee was told during a June 11 meeting. Those contacts confirmed reports about Raleigh White from the association and the GBMB.

Disfellowshiping Raleigh White “was the right decision for us to make,” said Rummage, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., but “it is always a sad decision to make when we withdraw fellowship from a church.”

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Source: Baptist Press