WASHINGTON, D.C., June 18, 2015—Southern Baptist Convention leaders Russell Moore, Ronnie Floyd, K. Marshall Williams and A. B. Vines issued a response today to the deadly church shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.,:
We stand today in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Charleston, South Carolina. The brutal massacre of those in prayer at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church should shock the conscience of every person. There is hardly a more vivid picture of unmasked evil than the murder of those in prayer.
This act of bloodshed is wicked and more than wicked. It is literally satanic, as our Lord taught us that the devil is a “murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).
Virtually every week we see yet another incident pointing to the sin of racism in American society, from unarmed African-American men and children killed in the streets to worshippers gunned down in their pews. This must end. And the church of Jesus Christ must lead the way.
The church should picture to the outside world what it means to be reconciled to God and to one another. We must embody the truth that we are all created in the image of God and that those of us in Christ have been brought near to God by the blood of Jesus. We share in common a table of fellowship, an indwelling Spirit, and an inheritance that we will share, together, forever. Death cannot hold these truths back.
Since the gospel is true, we should speak and work as the church for racial justice in the public arena and for racial reconciliation in our own communities. This is not merely the cause of African-American Christians but of all Christians.
The assault on Emanuel AME Church is an assault on all of us. When any part of the Body of Christ hurts, the whole Body of Christ hurts. We grieve, but we grieve in hope. We remember, after all, the meaning of Emanuel Church’s very name, a meaning that makes devils tremble: God is with us.
Moore serves as the president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Floyd is the current president of the SBC. Williams is pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church Philadelphia, Penn. and president of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC. Vines is pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley and El Cajon, Calif., and a past president of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC.
The ERLC hosted a Leadership Summit in March on “The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation” where speakers and pressed racial reconciliation as an imperative for evangelical churches, called as they are to reflect the kingdom of God.
The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.8 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.