|photo credit: AP|
Yesterday the Southern Baptists elected a black man, the first ever, as their denomination's President.
It was historic, redemptive, and just plain beautiful.
Here are a few tweets I read:
Sorry the camera is shaking - I was crying. Our first African American president of the SBC. #sbc12#fbyfrog.us/6htpsz
— Johnny Carr (@johnwcarr) June 19, 2012
How "God-ronic" that Fred Luter is elected Southern Baptist Convention president on Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery! #SBC12
— Mandisa (@mandisaofficial) June 19, 2012
Fred Luter elected Southern Baptist Convention's 1st black president. How it signals other changes ht.ly/bGJ16 #sbc12
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) June 19, 2012
The Southern Baptist denomination was birthed in 1845 in Augusta, GA (pre-civil war) by slave owners and others. Once a part of the First Baptist Church of America, they seceded from the abolitionist north over slave ownership.
Reuters said this is "a historic election for the predominately white religious group as it seeks to better reflect the diversity of the country and it's membership."
Fox News said this is "one of the biggest steps yet to reconcile the 167-year-old denomination's troubled racial past and appeal to a more diverse group of believers."
For me, I could tell you how this helps the SBC's image and our perception to outsiders who are watching (the SBC should be on the front page of several newspapers today). But in all honesty, this monumental election means so much more.
When Obama was elected, though I didn't vote for him, I celebrated for my son. I rejoiced that when he looks at the faces of all our Presidents he can see the race of someone like him. I was happy that our country has come so far that race is playing less and less of an issue in who is electable and who is respected to lead. I was proud of our country for putting another dagger in the painful history of slavery.
And I feel the same today. I'm not part of the SBC, but I celebrate this milestone on behalf of my son. Not that Rev. Fred Luter Jr was elected to this position because he was black, but because he showed leadership, good work ethic, and devotion to his position as pastor and church leader. Because he took an inner city, struggling church and grew it into a 5,000 person influential community using his creativity, burden, and enthusiasm for reaching the lost. Because yesterday we see his race does not prevent him from being recognized and rewarded for all he has done as an evangelical leader.
Things like Trayvon Martin happen and make me worry about how hard it is still to raise a black son in these days. But then Rev. Fred Luter Jr. is elected to the SBC and I'm reminded, there is change. We are making progress. We are gaining ground, taking steps to move closer and closer to racially inclusive world.
I'm hopeful. This election brings us one step closer to living in a nation where a man is judged on his character rather than the color of his skin. That's good news--for you, for me, and for my Bean.