In the spring and summer of 1994, I had the chance to do some freelancing for Baptist Press, the news agency for the Southern Baptist Convention.
It was an odd match.
Here I was, someone who was to the left of most people in the SBC andwas coming to terms with being gay, was writing stories for a denomination that was the opposite of me. That said, the SBC wasn’t a mystery to me. I had been a member of a Baptist congregation in Michigan that was part of the predominantly African American Nation Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. My church in Michigan was part of an effort to reach out to African Americans maybe as a way to atone for the denomination’s racial past. I was part of a Southern Baptist campus group and the church I belonged to in Washington, DC aligned with the more liberal American Baptist Churches and the Southern Baptist Convention as well.
I wrote a few articles and then was asked to write a breaking news story. The word was out that there were plans to present a resolution with the hopes it would be passed at the 1995 convention offering an apology for the denomination’s support for slavery. In my reporting, I learned that the SBC’s evangelism efforts in urban areas were running up against their past. If they wanted to become a more diverse denomination, they would need to deal with the elephant in the room and apologize for the issue that created the SBC. As an African American, I thought this was a big deal. I believed it was a major step for this denomination and I was glad they were taking this step even if I didn’t agree with them theologically.
Below is a podcast that goes in depth on the goings at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting.