Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd will convene A National Conversation on Racial Unity at the group’s annual meeting next month in St. Louis, the pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas announced in a blog May 2.
Floyd said the conversation will begin immediately following his presidential address during the Tuesday morning session June 14 at the America’s Center in downtown St. Louis. It will feature Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C. After that Floyd will convene a 55-minute panel discussion with 10 pastors including Fred Luter, the first and only African-American to serve as president of the nation’s second-largest faith group.
Floyd, who leaves office this year after serving a maximum of two one-year terms, said he has been asking Southern Baptists to pray for and pursue the next “Great Spiritual Awakening” in American history since his first press conference as SBC president. His thinking shifted, he said, after the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., sparked racial unrest across the nation unseen in recent years.
“When the Ferguson tragedy occurred, God burdened my heart immediately, adjusting my path of understanding,” Floyd said. “Politicians, corporate leaders, educators, religious leaders and pastors in America rarely initiate and move forward a positive agenda that leads to racial unity. We should seek to change this.”
Under “deep conviction by the Holy Spirit,” Floyd conducted a conference call in December 2014 with our SBC African-American pastors and two Anglo pastors talking “openly and honestly about the growing racial tension in our nation.”
Last November Floyd and Young led A National Conversation on Racial Unity in America in Jackson, Miss., followed by a joint statement denouncing racism as a “sin founded upon fear and ignorance — a perpetuation of the lie that only some are made in God’s image, and the rest are disposable.”
The two convention leaders together talked about their efforts together in a New York Times interview in January.
“While this path is still toward the next Great Awakening, God revealed clearly to me and anyone else that has been spiritually alert in America that one of the greatest sins in our nation today is the sin of racism,” Floyd said in Monday’s blog.
Floyd said the nation’s racial crisis is one area the convention will consider during a Tuesday evening session devoted to prayer for churches, the nation and the world, a program item he introduced at last year’s convention in Columbus, Ohio.
“How do we not do this when we are meeting within 20 minutes of Ferguson, Missouri?” the SBC president asked rhetorically.