Baptist Church of the Covenant in Birmingham, Ala., is a vibrant, Spirit-filled Baptist congregation that was formed out of protest.
In 1970, when a Black mother and daughter were refused membership at First Baptist Church because of their race, roughly 300 church members, many of those being Samford students and recent graduates, walked out of the worship service. The group then organized to form a new church that would have the goal of being a place where all are welcomed.
For nearly 52 years, BCOC has strived to live out that mission. It has not been easy, and we have at times floundered and failed, but in our striving, we have found deep joys and profound blessings.
In our efforts to open our doors wide, we have found our personal and corporate theology stretched and at times broken open in ways that surprised us. We know we are not a “typical” Baptist church, but our Baptist-ness has allowed us to have difficult conversations, to disagree, to change our minds and to see from another’s perspective. Christ challenged his disciples to welcome, befriend, and serve others beyond comfortable limits, and he challenges his followers to do the same today, for in these margins we experience a new reality of God’s hope, one that brings joy and peace to all. This is why we do what we do.
“We are even more hurt over the message of exclusion for the Samford LGTBQ community, who are receiving the message loud and clear that they are not a part of God’s kingdom.”
Along with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Episcopal Churches, Baptist Church of the Covenant was not invited to participate in the recent ministry fair at Samford University because of our mission of inclusion and love. Since our church has had historic and continuing affiliations with Samford, and since a large portion of our congregants have strong personal ties to the university, we confess that we are hurt over our exclusion. We are even more hurt over the message of exclusion for the Samford LGTBQ community, who are receiving the message loud and clear that they are not a part of God’s kingdom.
To the students, faculty and staff at Samford who now feel they have no place to call home, know that Baptist Church of the Covenant is holding the door wide open for you. Here, you will always have a place to belong, a place to worship, a place to serve, a place to experience the depth and breadth of God’s boundless love.
Come join us as we continue to protest, wrestle and be stretched and blessed by Christ’s call to welcome all.
Erica Cooper serves as pastor of Baptist Church of the Covenant in Birmingham, Ala.
Samford, how long will you remain silent? | Opinion by Mark Wingfield