WATCH: Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear Preaches at Historic Black Sixth Avenue Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. In Birmingham, Alabama

Standing in the pulpit at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church — a congregation rich in civil rights movement history — Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear focused on how only the Gospel has the power to bring true, lasting transformation to society.

During Sunday morning services (June 9), Greear told the predominately African American church located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Birmingham, Ala., “the church thrives when the Gospel is at the center.”

As he began his sermon, titled The Gospel Above all: Romans 12:1-2, Greear recognized the congregation’s history of fighting racial inequality — a past that includes hosting civil rights leaders like King and the funeral for three of four black girls who were killed in a 1963 racially-motivated bombing at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., preaches at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., during a Sunday morning service June 9. Photo by Kathleen Murray

“To be here, right here in your historic church where so many people in the civil rights movement have been … I can’t tell you what an honor this is,” said Greear, who will be presiding over the SBC annual meeting in Birmingham this week, June 11-12.

Greear focused his 35-minute message on the power of the Gospel to transform lives and why it must be above all. The Gospel, he noted, can overcome all the world’s sinful desires, worldliness and troubles — among them is the issue of racism.

Peter’s “racist tendencies,” Greear noted, are addressed in Galatians 2.

“[Peter] wouldn’t eat with Gentiles in certain situations because a lot of Jews thought Gentiles were of a different spiritual class,” Greear said. “So, they practiced segregated eating.”

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Source: Baptist Press