Racial Unity Conversations
Racial Unity Conversations

The SBC of Virginia strives for racial unity. These conversations have been ongoing since before the George Floyd murder and in the days and weeks since. We have compiled videos and other resources here on racial unity.

From our Executive Director

A letter from Dr. Brian Autry

Email originally sent June 1, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday I traveled to Portsmouth. I wanted to sit under the preaching and hear from my dear friend and our convention president, Dr. Allen McFarland. As a faithful pastor he has taught me much about the Lord, as an African-American man he has also taught me about the strife and struggle he and people of color have faced and still face – and he also taught me much about what it means to, in his words, to be an overcomer.

The events of the past several weeks, and then last week the video of George Floyd, grieved me personally and pastorally, and words have escaped me – I should have known what to say – but I just have lacked intelligent words. Perhaps I have made it more complicated than necessary.

The bottom line: I am shocked and grieved at the sight of a man dying with a policeman on him. I am grieved by the injustice. I am grieved at what must be unimaginable pain for his loved ones. I am grieved at what is going on in our cities. I am grieved when I hear the testimony of my black neighbors about the reality of racism. I am grieved at what faithful police must be going through too. I am grieved at the anger and anguish that pains so many. I confess that I do not know what it is like to be in their shoes. But I can listen. I can sympathize. I can stand in solidarity. I can speak. Racism is wrong. Brutality and injustice are wrong. I joined in with others from our Southern Baptist leadership, and I am thankful for the joint letter that was released. I am thankful that we can stand together in this effort. We all need to stand together.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you; But to do justly, to love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

I also realize that yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. I am not a politician. I am a preacher. I am a minister of the Gospel. So, my hope is ultimately not in government but in God. As Christians and as church folks, we have had a hard spring. We have not been able to meet like normal. We have not been able to fellowship like we have and need to do. But Church, this world is in a world of hurt.

It needs us to speak, serve, and live in the power of the Holy Spirit. We who admit that we are but poor spiritual beggars in need of grace, we who have been saved by the One the world despised, we who have been delivered from the ways of this world – we who are the royal priesthood, the Body of Christ, the people who are no longer slave, nor free, Jew, nor Gentile – we are empowered by God to make known the only Answer that will ultimately save. Because of Jesus we can know and love God. Because of Jesus we can love our neighbor as ourselves. Because of Jesus we can obey God’s commands. So, as Pastor McFarland preached yesterday – we shall overcome because of Jesus.

So, God, I pray that You will fill us afresh and anew with Your Spirit.


Executive Director
SBC of Virginia

Racial Unity Conversation with Alton & Marva Bell

Friends from across the pond have a unique perspective on the racial crisis in America. This pastor and his wife have been at the forefront of the struggle for racial justice and reconciliation in their own country for many years. They reconnect with Brandon Pickett and Mark Custalow in a very open and interesting conversation about what lessons we may be able to learn from history and what may be behind the current and continuing quest for racial unity.

Not Alone Stories

Not Alone Story | Doris McFarland & Eydie Thomas

Building relationships with people who are different takes time and intentionality. And that’s exactly what helped bond a deep friendship between Doris McFarland and Eydie Thomas. Listen to their story as we all work at loving and serving those around us just as Christ did. | See more Not Alone Stories

Not Alone Story | Donna Paulk

Donna Paulk and Brandon Pickett talk with three women’s ministry leaders about the current racial climate. These ladies open up about how racial tension and injustice is always right under the surface and what we as Christians can do about it right now in our churches and our communities. | See more Not Alone Stories

Not Alone Story | Pastor James Hobson

Pastor James Hobson of Hill City Community Church in Lynchburg is brand new to the SBC of Virginia. He shares with Brandon Pickett his raw thoughts and emotions during this time of racial injustice… and how his unique background as well as coming together with other church leaders before this crisis started helped build important relationships that are now reaping Kingdom benefits for their churches and the entire community. | See more Not Alone Stories

Resources from SBC Entities

Racial reconciliation not a 'finished project' 25 years after historic resolution

Friday, June 19, 2020 • Original article here.

NASHVILLE (BP) — Charles Carter chaired the Resolutions Committee that led the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of racism and make a historic push for racial reconciliation at the 1995 SBC annual meeting in Atlanta. But what may have been his most significant act of racial reconciliation that summer occurred after he returned home to Birmingham, Ala…

Read more

Southern Baptist leaders issue joint statement on the death of George Floyd

Saturday, May 30, 2020 • Original article here.

Southern Baptist leaders have published a statement grieving the recent death of George Floyd and calling for the end of “racial inequity in the distribution of justice in our country.”

The statement, co-authored by SBC president J.D. Greear and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president Jamie Dew was unanimously signed by all SBC officers, entity heads and state convention executive directors.

Read the statement

Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

December 12, 2018 • Read letter from the president here.

In late 2017, Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. appointed a committee of six persons to prepare a report on the legacy of slavery and racism in the history of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The committee’s members were Dr. Curtis Woods, Dr. John Wilsey, Dr. Kevin Jones, Dr. Jarvis Williams, Dr. Matthew J. Hall, and Dr. Gregory Wills. This is Southern Seminary’s report.

Read report

Racial Reconciliation

Why racial reconciliation?

A conversation with Eric Thomas and Brent Hobbs | Produced in October of 2019

What have you learned from striving for racial reconciliation?

A conversation with Nigel Anderson, Brent Hobbs, Eric Thomas | Produced in October of 2019

How do I strive for racial reconciliation?

A conversation with Charles Shannon, Brent Hobbs, Eric Thomas | Produced in October of 2019

Resolutions on Racism

Resolution 7 | On Charlottesville and the sin of racism (Annual Homecoming 2017)

WHEREAS, Scripture teaches, “From one man [God] has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” (Acts 17:26); and

WHEREAS, The Psalmist proclaimed, “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord” (Psalm 24:1); and

WHEREAS, The Apostle Peter said, “God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him” (Acts 10:34–35); and

WHEREAS, Our justification before God is based on faith in Christ Jesus alone and not in our ethnicity (Galatians 3:27–28);

WHEREAS, Scripture proclaims that Jesus is purchasing by His blood believers “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9); and

WHEREAS, Throughout eternity we will gather with a “multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language” in worship of our risen Savior (Revelation 7:9); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 conveys that all Christians are obligated to make the will of Christ supreme in their own lives and in human society, opposing all forms of racism, selfishness, and vice, and bringing government and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love; and

WHEREAS, Racism and ideologies of racial supremacy are, sadly, not extinct but present all over the world in various movements, including white supremacist movements, “white nationalism” or the “alt-right”; and

WHEREAS, these movements in the United States represent a growing threat to political order and justice that seeks to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, and divide the people of our country, and

WHEREAS, these movements must be opposed for the totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that infect the minds and actions of its disciples and are contrary to Jesus’ command that we “love one another,” (John 13:34); and

WHEREAS, these racist philosophies are now influencing public discourse in America in ways that are contrary to Christian teaching (Galatians 3:28, Titus 1:9), and are, therefore, negative to our country, our colleges, our online communities, and, potentially, some of our churches; and

WHEREAS, on June 14, 2017, the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, overwhelmingly passed a resolution “On The Anti-Gospel Of Alt-Right White Supremacy,”

WHEREAS, white supremacists have gathered for rallies in May, August, and October of 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia; and

WHEREAS, these rallies were held to propagate white supremacist ideology and to attempt to intimidate those who oppose it, especially racial minorities, by making use of historical symbols, behavior, and slogans; and

WHEREAS, these rallies have gained national attention through media coverage, especially due to the deaths of two Virginia State Police Troopers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, and the death of Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer by a white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd gathered in Charlottesville in an act of domestic terrorism; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the SBC of Virginia Homecoming, meeting in Colonial Heights, Virginia, November 12–14, 2017, extend our love and compassion to those in Charlottesville devastated by these events; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we decry every form of racism, including and specifically alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:34-43); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we denounce and repudiate every form of racial and ethnic hatred as a scheme of the devil intended to bring suffering and division to our society (1 Peter 5:8); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we denounce every form of nationalism that violates the biblical teachings with respect to race, justice, and ordered liberty (Philippians 3:20); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that we still must make progress in rooting out any remaining forms of intentional or unintentional racism in our midst and we repent for failing to do so sooner (Mark 1:15); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we will guard our hearts and minds from consuming or embracing this evil ideology (Romans 12:2) ; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we will stand with ethnic minorities and anyone else targeted for intimidation so that the attempt to devalue our fellow image bearers results in a bold witness of the sacrificial love to which Christ calls us (Galatians 2:11-13); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we strongly urge any and all groups in our nation opposed to the alt-right and white supremacist movements, to only employ peaceful, non-violent means in their protest of these groups; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we will encourage churches of the SBC of Virginia to prayerfully consider increasing diversity among local church and denominational leadership (Acts 10:34-35); and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray, both for those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are thereby deceived, that they may see their error through the light of the Gospel, repent of these hatreds, and come to know the peace and love of Christ through redeemed fellowship in the Kingdom of God, which is established from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 5:9, 7:9).

Resolution On Racial Reconciliation On The 150th Anniversary Of The Southern Baptist Convention

Atlanta, Georgia – 1995 • Original posting here.

WHEREAS, Since its founding in 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention has been an effective instrument of God in missions, evangelism, and social ministry; and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures teach that Eve is the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20), and that God shows no partiality, but in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him (Acts 10:34-35), and that God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth (Acts 17:26); and

WHEREAS, Our relationship to African-Americans has been hindered from the beginning by the role that slavery played in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention; and

WHEREAS, Many of our Southern Baptist forbears defended the right to own slaves, and either participated in, supported, or acquiesced in the particularly inhumane nature of American slavery; and

WHEREAS, In later years Southern Baptists failed, in many cases, to support, and in some cases opposed, legitimate initiatives to secure the civil rights of African-Americans; and

WHEREAS, Racism has led to discrimination, oppression, injustice, and violence, both in the Civil War and throughout the history of our nation; and

WHEREAS, Racism has divided the body of Christ and Southern Baptists in particular, and separated us from our African-American brothers and sisters; and

WHEREAS, Many of our congregations have intentionally and/or unintentionally excluded African-Americans from worship, membership, and leadership; and

WHEREAS, Racism profoundly distorts our understanding of Christian morality, leading some Southern Baptists to believe that racial prejudice and discrimination are compatible with the Gospel; and

WHEREAS, Jesus performed the ministry of reconciliation to restore sinners to a right relationship with the Heavenly Father, and to establish right relations among all human beings, especially within the family of faith.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Sesquicentennial meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, assembled in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-22, 1995, unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we affirm the Bibles teaching that every human life is sacred, and is of equal and immeasurable worth, made in Gods image, regardless of race or ethnicity (Genesis 1:27), and that, with respect to salvation through Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for (we) are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest, and we recognize that the racism which yet plagues our culture today is inextricably tied to the past; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously (Psalm 19:13) or unconsciously (Leviticus 4:27); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we ask forgiveness from our African-American brothers and sisters, acknowledging that our own healing is at stake; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we hereby commit ourselves to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to be doers of the Word (James 1:22) by pursuing racial reconciliation in all our relationships, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 2:6), to the end that our light would so shine before others, that they may see (our) good works and glorify (our) Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16); and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That we pledge our commitment to the Great Commission task of making disciples of all people (Matthew 28:19), confessing that in the church God is calling together one people from every tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9), and proclaiming that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only certain and sufficient ground upon which redeemed persons will stand together in restored family union as joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

Gatherings on Racial Unity

Children’s Ministry and Racism: Is Your Children’s Ministry Ethnically Inclusive?
with Dorena Williamson

SBCV invited Dorena Williamson, bridge builder and author of the children’s three-book series, Colorfull, Thoughtfull, and Gracefull, to share how we can reflect the heart of the Father to our children and impact the future of our churches. She discussed how, as children’s ministry leaders, we have the greatest opportunity and responsibility to prevent racism and bias early in our children’s lives and help to cultivate diversity in our churches of tomorrow.

More Info

Prayer March in Norfolk

On June 7 in Norfolk, over 2,500 people from dozens of different churches, along with law enforcement officers, gathered for a prayer march to help mend the racial divide and bring about change.

TOGETHER: Night of Prayer

First Baptist Church in Roanoke hosted a very special night of prayer on Sunday, June 7. The encouraging evening featured powerful prayer and worship as people poured out their hearts to Jesus. If you were not able to watch the service live, watch it here or on their Facebook page and you will surely be blessed. | Read the Baptist Press Article here.

Women’s Ministry Dinner: Breaking Down Dividing Walls

A conversation with Eydie Thomas and Doris McFarland | Recorded at the women’s ministry dinner on Monday night of Annual Homecoming 2019

Fall 2019 Executive Board

Panel discussion with Brandon Pickett, Allen McFarland, Mark Custalow, and Charles Shannon | Recorded at the October 2019 Executive Board meeting

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