AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ABC BOARD OF TRUSTEES
“Who Left The Gate Open?
THE AMERICAN BAPTIST COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
By William Dwight Mckissic, Sr.

How is it possible that an unrepentant lesbian bishop, legally married to a female, be invited to preach and lead the Tuesday night worship service, at the prestigious 58th Annual Garnett-Nabrit Lecture Series, on the campus of American Baptist College, Nashville, TN?  Who opened the gate and let Bishop Yvette Flunder, for two consecutive years, come and preach/lecture to impressionable students—while she is arguably the face of the rapidly growing—“I’m Black, I’m Gay, I’m a Christian, and I’m Proud”—movement?  This is a critical question that National Baptists must answer, address and redress:  Who left the gate open? How did we get here?

If National Baptists don’t close this gate, now—and I mean “soon and very soon”—we will see more and more episodes of same-sex married partners leading worship and in any and all capacities in our churches. Does Bishop Flunder’s appearance at ABC signify the future for our churches, or is this simply an unfortunate and momentary lapse in administrative judgment?

While contemplating this clear question of responsibility and accountability for National Baptists and ABC, I recalled an applicable story told by the revered and fondly remembered Dr. Mack King Carter, one of our beloved, now departed colleagues in the NBCUSA, out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  On the floor of an Annual Session of our Congress back in the late ‘90’s, amidst a different, but yet highly publicized controversy, Pastor Carter cited an illustration similar to this:  The owner of a country meat house discovered early one morning that a fox had come in overnight and ravaged his shop. He also noticed on his way to the meat house that the butcher assigned to secure the facility had failed to do so the previous night.  While assessing the damage, he thought to himself, “I actually don’t know who is to blame; the fox that ravaged the spoils, or the butcher who left the gate open.”

As many of us contemplate the question—“How did we get here?”—I am much like the country meat house owner; I’m trying to figure out who actually is to blame: The fox that ravaged the meat or the butcher who left the gate open!

Bishop Yvette Flunder did not invite herself to ABC.  Regarding any responsibility or accountability for her invitation, Sister Flunder is certainly most innocent. There is no attempt to make her out to be a villain in this real live case scenario, or “reality show.” Who, then, is ultimately responsible and should be held accountability for Bishop Flunder’s dubious appearance? Clearly, a gate has been left open, our trust has been violated, and history alone will sadly reveal the incalculable damage resulting from this tragic blunder!

Ultimately, the American Baptist College Trustee Board are the individuals responsible for Bishop Yvette Flunder—a lesbian bishop, married to Shirley Miller—preaching and leading worship at the Garnett-Nabrit Lecture Series. The ABC Board of Trustees has remained silent during this whole discussion. Not only are they silent, but to the public at large they are invisible. But, back to the question, who left the gate open? Namely, ABC 2015 Board of Trustees:

Dr. Albert G. Berry, Board Chair
Berry Consultants
Nashville, Tennessee

Bishop Lawrence Kirby, Board Vice Chair
St. Paul Baptist Church
Racine, Wisconsin

Rev. Dr. Julius R.Scruggs
First Missionary Baptist Church
Huntsville, Alabama

Mr. Frank C. Davis
Frank C. Davis & Associates
Nashville, Tennessee

Ms. Linda Rose, Esq.
Rose Immigration Law Firm
Nashville, Tennessee

Dr. Iva Carruthers
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Karen Brown Dunlap
President Emerita – Author – Educator – Lecturer
St. Petersburg, Florida

Mr. Dennie Marshall
Sun Trust Bank
Nashville, Tennessee

Rev. Samuel Hale
Zion Baptist Church
Springfield, Illinois

Rev. Dr. Wilma Johnson
New Prospect Baptist Church
Detroit, Michigan

Rev. Don Darius Butler
Tabernacle Community Baptist Church
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Ms. Sherri L. Neal
Hospital Corporation of America
Nashville, Tennessee

Rev. Dr. Darrell Drumwright
Temple Baptist Church
Nashville, TN

Mr. Webb Campbell, Atty.
Sherrard & Roe, PLC
Nashville, Tennessee

Ms. Latrisha Jemison
Regions Bank
Nashville, Tennessee

Rev. Derrick L. Jackson
First Baptist Church of Gallatin
Nashville, Tennessee

Rev. Tellis J. Chapman
Galilee Baptist Church
Detroit, Michigan

James A. Crumlin, Jr., Attorney
Bone McAllester North, PLLC
Nashville, Tennessee

These prominent and good-hearted men and women of God, owes it to their National Baptist family, answers to the following questions:

1. Did you and do you support the decision of President Forrest Harris to have invited Bishop Flunder for two consecutive years? And, if so, why?

2. What are the governance, ownership/proprietary, and legal relationship between ABC and NBC? The technical, accurate, actual, functional, and working answer to that question, seems to be shrouded in mystery and uncertainty?

3. Just as Vanderbilt School of Divinity makes it absolutely clear on their website that they affirm same-sex relationships; and it is promoted, protected, and respected…if this is now where ABC is as a school, is this a matter of official policy as it is at Vanderbilt? Or did ABC simply morph into this pro-gay agenda during the Forrest Harris administration?

4. Shouldn’t the ABC Board of Trustees come to the floor of the NBC and in a transparent and truthful manner report to the NBC, ABC’s current pro-gay philosophy and practice mindset?

5. How are board members appointed at ABC? Are they appointed by the NBC, or are they internally appointed?

6. Most, if not all, Christian colleges have an official doctrinal statement. What is ABC’s doctrinal statement?

7. How much money has the NBC donated to the ABC over the past five years?

8. Does the following quotes by President Harris as they appear in a Nashville, TN, newspaper—the Tennessean—accurately reflect the thinking and theology of ABC?

Pastors Oppose Lesbian Bishop Speaker at Baptist College

A Baptist college president in Nashville said Tuesday evening that people should not use “idolatry of the Bible” to discriminate against homosexuals.

“It’s sad that people use religion and idolatry of the Bible to demoralize same-gender-loving people,” American Baptist College President Forrest Harris said in response to criticism involving the decision to allow a lesbian bishop to speak there.

What does Harris define as “idolatry of the Bible?

“When people say (the Bible) is synonymous with God and the truth,” he said. “We can’t be guided and dictated by a first-century world view.”

The decision by the Nashville college to schedule a married, lesbian bishop to speak at the school next week has enraged some conservative black preachers who believe homosexuality is a sin and have called for the college president to rescind the invitation.

The National Baptist Convention, the largest predominantly African-American Christian denomination in the United States and the one with which the Nashville college is affiliated, has promoted the event on its official website.

American Baptist College has defended its decision to invite Bishop Yvette Flunder to speak at the annual Garnett Nabrit Lecture Series at the school, March 15-18. She is scheduled to speak about her work advocating for the rights and needs of people suffering from HIV and AIDS. The event will be the second time Flunder has spoken at the school, a historically black college with many connections to leaders in the Civil Rights movement.

The National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors, also affiliated with the National Baptist Convention, questioned Harris and the president of the National Baptist Convention.

“For a Baptist college president to invite a lesbian bishop legally married to a woman, to be a guest speaker and worship leader on a Baptist college campus is irresponsible, scandalous, non-biblical, and certainly displeasing to God,” the news release said.

The group asked Harris to rescind Flunder’s invitation, for National Baptist Convention President Jerry Young to release a statement revealing his stance on Flunder and for Young to remove promotion of Flunder’s appearance at the college from the National Baptist Convention website.

If Harris and Young refuse to rescind Flunder’s invitation, the groups asked that the event be moved from American Baptist College facilities.

Reverends Randy Vaughn and Dwight McKissic, co-coordinators of the conservative pastor group called Harris’ words “disheartening” “heretical,” and said he “trampled on the beliefs of the school’s founders.”

“It is so disappointing and disheartening that at the American Baptist College, where the land was bought and paid for by Baptists who took the Bible literally, their blood, sweat and tears are being trampled on,” said McKissic, senior pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. “We believe the Bible and its teachings. We believe homosexuality – as a matter of fact all the Bible talks about as sin – is sin.”

Vaughn, pastor of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas, said the moment can’t go forward without there being a recorded protest.

Both pastors said more than 150 conservative National Baptist Convention Christians have joined their group.

But Harris said the group of pastors that has criticized his decision does not understand and has misinterpreted the theology of the large Baptist denomination to which they belong.

“I think they have misappropriated the theology of the National Baptist Convention which says that churches and individuals can hold their own theological beliefs about what they think is right and wrong,” Harris said. “It’s tragic these conservative pastors are in opposition to what education ought to be about, to expose students to critical moral thinkers and a broad education.”

The concerned pastors want Young and Harris to alert students, parents, alumni and all National Baptist Convention pastors and churches that Flunder has been invited to the school for two years.

Harris has said the demands of the group of pastors and their requests “fly in the face of everything that ABC stands for as an institution of higher education rooted in the cause of social justice and equality for all,” according to a news release sent to The Tennessean on behalf of the of the school Tuesday.

Harris also said the American Baptist College has received federal funding and expresses “neither favor nor disfavor of positions, groups or individuals (who speak at the school) in accordance with state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination.”

Reporter Jordan Buie can be reached at 615-726-5970 or on Twitter @jordanbuiehttp://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2015/03/10/pastors-oppose-lesbian-bishop-at-baptist-college/24727465/The Tennessean

9. Do you support the following quote in a letter in support of President Harris and Bishop Flunder which says the following:

“American Baptist College is dedicated to educating students to be strengthened in believing, practicing and proclaiming the liberating gospel of Jesus. The students of American Baptist College deserve to know that the gospel of Jesus is believed, lived and preached by faithful people, who are in committed, same-sex relationships in the same way the gospel of Jesus is believed, lived, and preached by faithful people who are in committed heterosexual relationships.”

10. Again, do you approve or disapprove of the decision of Forrest Harris to invite Bishop Flunder, and his belief that we cannot be guided by a “first century worldview”—a reference to the Bible?

There are 200 supporters who’ve signed petitions, thus far, in disagreement with the Bishop Flunder invite. I respectfully await your answers as to whether or not you agree.

“Who Left the Gate Open?”

A DEFINING MOMENT FOR THE NATION AND THE NATIONAL BAPTIST CONVENTION

Ten Reasons Why American Baptist College President Forrest Harris Should Rescind Lesbian Bishop Yvette Flunder’s, Garnett-Nabrit Lecture Invitation

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

Discussions, deliberations and decisions, regarding the legality and morality of same-sex marriage—have wound their way through courts of justice, halls of Congress, city councils and county governments, local school districts, voting booths and the office of the President of the United States. These discussions have been a part of American families’ table talks for many, many years, because many American families are impacted personally by an immediate or extended family member who is engaged in a same-sex relationship, or contemplating and evaluating their sexual identity.

The Supreme Court of the United States of America is scheduled to debate the legal fate of same-sex marriage in the United States on April 28 (http://www.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-to-hear-same-sex-marriage-arguments-on-april-28-1425573877).  They are likely to issue an opinion before they adjourn this summer. Consequently, gay marriage could be legal throughout the length and breadth of America by the end of June. The Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage will be a defining moment for our nation; and their decision will have a trickle-down effect, and incredible influence and impact on every other sector in society. Gay marriage will then be the law of the land.

Not only are these discussions, deliberations and decisions taking place in the secular realms of society—they have also landed on the doorsteps of America’s churches and denominations, Christian colleges and universities. Needless to say, these are serious and often uncomfortable conversations for the Christian community to hold and process. Nevertheless, the changing culture in our society has made these discussions, deliberations and decisions absolutely necessary.

The Southern Baptist Convention has gone on record many, many times, officially, by way of resolution, declaring a non-negotiable, non-compromising, emphatically clear position that marriage is between one man and one woman. President William J. Shaw and President Julius Scruggs (immediate past presidents) have gone on record declaring personal convictions in writing, that the NBC believes that marriage biblically is between a man and a woman; but there has never been an official declaration, voted on by the NBC in their annual session that specifies that the NBC believes that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. I was present in Jackson, MS, at the NBC Mid-Winter Board Meeting, this past January when the newly elected President (September 2014) of the NBC, Dr. Jerry Young, announced that he will appoint or already had appointed a resolutions committee to develop a resolution/position statement to be voted on by the NBC later this year, on the subject of same-sex marriage. It is certainly high time that the largest organized body of Black Christians anywhere in the world take a definitive, official stand on this subject.

Previously, the NBC had issued a statement instructing its’ chaplains to only perform marriages between a man and a woman. I am so grateful and proud of President Young for making a decision to lead the NBC to adopt an official position on same-sex marriage. I anticipate that we will get an update on this resolution in June in Detroit, at the Annual National Baptist Congress gathering, or in September of this year, in Memphis, at the Annual Session of the NBC. We certainly need to be in prayer for President Young as he guides our beloved NBC through these turbulent and unchartered waters related to developing a resolution/policy on same-sex marriage.

In the meantime, Dr. Forrest Harris, President of American Baptist College in Nashville, TN—a school we are often told during the NBC Annual Session, is owned and operated by the Convention—has very aggressively made his decision regarding affirming persons in same-sex marriages. For the second consecutive year, Dr. Harris has invited lesbian bishop, Yvette Flunder, to serve as a guest lecturer and worship leader at the 58th Annual Garnett-Nabrit Lecture Series, held on the campus of ABC, and in the World Baptist Center facility, that’s owned by the NBC.

The land that ABC and the World Baptist Center sit on in Nashville, TN, was purchased by Negro Baptists in the first quarter of the 20th Century. The Black Baptists of that era were adamantly opposed to same-sex relationships based on biblical grounds. It is a dishonor, and an act of disrespect to those sainted souls, for President Harris to now host a lesbian bishop on those hallowed grounds.

Bishop Yvette Flunder, the lesbian bishop invited by Dr. Harris, and Dean Emilie Townes, the lesbian Dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School, where Dr. Harris also works, are both on record stating that the Bible does not address consensual same-sex relationships. It is disheartening to discover that Dr. Harris is introducing this false and heretical teaching to the campus of ABC. By extension, he is associating and influencing the Baptist students at ABC, and all the NBC churches to Flunder’s, Townes’ and Harris’ point of view that the Bible does not address same-sex relationships. This is a very serious matter. Bishop Flunder is expected to lead worship, preach and deliver a luncheon lecture on March 17-18, on the NBC, ABC campus. What a horrible day to trample on the history of those who sacrificed to buy the land for ABC, and to validate the heretical teaching of Flunder and Townes, that the Bible does not address homosexual relationships.

Bishop Flunder’s UCC denomination validates same-sex marriages. Emilie Townes’ Vanderbilt School of Divinity affirms same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships. Forrest Harris’ American Baptist College has not sanctioned same-sex marriages, nor has the NBC, that Harris is accountable to. Dr. Harris’ NBC constituency does not sanction and support gay marriage as does Flunder’s and Townes’ affiliations; therefore, the NBC must hold them accountable for this breach of trust.

There are ten reasons why Dr. Harris ought to rescind the invitation of Bishop Flunder to speak at ABC. It is also my prayer that Bishop Flunder would respect the history and biblical traditional beliefs of the NBC on this subject and voluntarily refrain from fulfilling Dr. Harris’ invitation.

  1. Bishop Flunder’s presence and preaching at ABC gives a false legitimacy to gay theology, gay apologetics, and gay exegesis. Her false views regarding what the Bible says and does not say regarding same-sex relations are validated by her welcome and acceptance at ABC.
  2. Bishop Flunder is legally married to Shirley Miller. Her presentation at ABC as a partner in a same-sex marriage makes an “incarnational” powerful statement to the students at ABC that her lifestyle is accepted and affirmed by the ABC administration and their denominational affiliation—NBC.
  3. Consequently, Bishop Flunder’s presence raises serious questions about the belief system, doctrine, and practices of the NBC constituency with regard to same-sex relationships. It is not a stretch to believe that Bishop Flunder would not be invited unless her “marriage” was thought to be approved of by the NBC.
  4. Bishop Flunder’s presence advances the gay agenda within and outside of the church. Does the NBC really want to play a role in that advancement? If practicing homosexuality is approved by the Black Baptist church—and her presence implicitly says that it is –on what basis then do we proclaim that fornication and adultery is wrong?
  5. Bishop Flunder’s presence presents a model of family life that the Bible does not support.
  6. Bishop Flunder’s presence exposes a lack of accountability structures in place within the NBC. Almost without exception, every NBC pastor, including our President Dr. Jerry Young, does not support Bishop Flunder’s appearance; yet, we are all powerless to stop it. That’s a huge problem and one that needs to be fixed in short order.
  7. Bishop Flunder’s coming represents a departure from the faith of our fathers, including Martin Luther King. King wrote a statement disapproving of same-sex relationships that can be accessed here: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/16/what-did-mlk-think-about-gay-people/.
  8. Bishop Flunder’s presence as a lecturer reinforces the false notion that gay-rights, civil rights, and justice issues are synonymous and compatible. ABC is aiding and abetting the gay community to hijack the language of the Civil Rights Movement with their affirmation of Bishop Flunder’s same-sex marriage.
  9. Bishop Flunder is scheduled to address the subject of AIDS at the prestigious Nannie Helen Burroughs Luncheon. Does ABC really believe that a person who affirms and advocates same-sex relationships is the most qualified person to address this subject?
  10. Bishop Flunder’s presence calls into question, if ABC and NBC could affirm the following statement adopted by Erskine college after two male athletes on their campus involved in a same-sex relationship became public knowledge:

“Christ affirms that marital union is to be between a man and woman (Matt 19:4-6). The Bible teaches that monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is God’s intended design for humanity and that sexual intimacy has its proper place only within the context of marriage (1 Thes. 4:3-5, Col. 3:5-7). Sexual relations outside of marriage or between persons of the same sex are spoken of in scripture as sin and contrary to the will of the Creator (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:9-11).

We believe the Bible teaches that all sexual activity outside the covenant of marriage is sinful and therefore ultimately destructive to the parties involved. As a Christian academic community, and in light of our institutional mission, members of the Erskine community are expected to follow the teachings of scripture concerning matters of human sexuality and institutional decisions will be made in light of this position.” (Emphasis mine)

Our current structure and system can’t stop a college president who does not believe that homosexuality is sin, from advancing his non-biblical views and pro-gay agenda on the students at ABC. Many of those students will become pastors and staff members at our churches. They will ultimately bring a different viewpoint to the people in the pews, than what National Baptists have historically believed. That is why Bishop Yvette Flunder’s coming is an ill-thought idea. Perhaps Bishop Flunder will do ABC and the NBC family a great favor and save us from this national embarrassment and scandal, by simply deciding that she will not appear at the Lecture Series at ABC. And prayerfully, the resolution/position statement that the NBC will adopt will convey to the College a clear position that the NBC does not in any way, shape, form or fashion endorse gay marriage. Consequently, if the College respects the position/statement of the NBC, “institutional decisions will be made in light of this position” and this kind of decision will never happen again. If Dr. Forrest Harris insists on following through with the invitation of Bishop Flunder, he needs to be forced to resign or be fired by the Board of ABC for violating the trust, the Bible and beliefs of the vast majority of National Baptists. Contrary to the thinking of Dr. Harris, Bishop Flunder and Dean Townes, the Bible is crystal clear on the subject of same-sex relationships. By comparing the Civil Rights Movement with the gay rights movement, they are comparing one people’s sin with another people’s skin. To do so is tragic, sinful and shameful. And this is what Forrest Harris is leading the American Baptist College to do, partially funded by NBC dollars. National Baptists need to rise up and let their voices be heard on this issue.

THE NATIONAL BAPTIST FELLOWSHIP OF CONCERNED PASTORS
LESBIAN BISHOP AND TWO PRO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE PASTORS TO LECTURE AT THE AMERICAN BAPTIST COLLEGE IN NASHVILLE, TN

The National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors is an informal fellowship of pastors with an affinity to the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (NBC) who are deeply concerned about the state of our nation, our families, our churches, and our schools. We have mobilized to address these issues because of our grave concern over our collective, downward drift morally as a nation. Therefore, we declare our support to the NBC’s efforts that addresses these concerns, and all Bible believing ministries that are proffering biblical, Spirit-led solutions to the ills of our nation.

We are praying for and in support of our President, Dr. Jerry Young, as he develops and deploys initiatives to address these concerns. We also stand with Dr. Young as he gives leadership to our Convention in strengthening and encouraging existing efforts to curb the downward moral tide of our nation.

We are praying and believing that God would use the National Baptist Convention, USA, in a mighty way, once again, to exalt Himself, evangelize the unchurched, educate and edify believers, and elevate our society. We seek to stand shoulder to shoulder with all pastors who recognize that our nation is in trouble, and ill-at-ease; and only through the adoption and passionate pursuit of a Biblical/Kingdom worldview will we find meaningful and lasting answers to the problems that plague us. Nothing short of Divine intervention and a Kingdom movement is going to save this great nation of ours.

Because the National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors seeks to strengthen our families and churches, and to constructively address the ills of our nation’s educational systems, we acknowledge that we were/are disheartened to discover the current state of affairs at the American Baptist College (ABC) in Nashville, TN.

ABC hosted a lesbian bishop, who is legally married to a woman, to be a lecturer last year, and invited her back this year (March 15-18, 2015) to serve as the Tuesday Evening worship leader and preacher, in addition to serving as the Wednesday afternoon speaker for the prestigious Nanny Helen Burroughs Luncheon.

Dr. Forrest Harris, the President of ABC, who simultaneously serves as a professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School—where the Dean at Vanderbilt Divinity School is also a practicing lesbian (http://christiannews.net/2013/10/07/outspoken-lesbian-minister-promoted-to-dean-of-vanderbilt-divinity-school/) —is fully aware that Bishop Yvette Flunder is married to Shirley Miller. Dr. Harris is also aware that Bishop Flunder presides over 37-40 “welcome and affirming churches,” and she is affiliated with the United Churches of Christ denomination, that do not maintain the historic Baptist view that homosexuality is a sin, and the Bible is inspired, infallible, and inerrant.

For a Baptist college president to invite a lesbian bishop legally married to a woman, to be a guest speaker and worship leader on a Baptist college campus is irresponsible, scandalous, non-biblical, and certainly displeasing to God.

The National Baptist Convention needs to hold Dr. Forrest Harris accountable for his actions as it relates to the lack of wisdom involved; poor judgment displayed; the violation of the sacred trust exhibited; the failure to disclose this breech of Baptist tradition to the ABC Trustee Board, and the NBC constituency; failing to restrain his inner impulse to invite Bishop Flunder twice; and his failure to respect parental authority by not notifying the parents that he had chosen to expose their sons and daughters to a lesbian, legally-married bishop, on a Baptist college campus. It strains credulity to believe that Dr. Harris could not see that this decision was wrought with complexity, controversy, and complicity as it relates to the duality of the relationship that ABC has with NBC.

President Forrest Harris is heavily influenced by, and is heavily bringing the theological liberal views of Vanderbilt School of Divinity to ABC. Affirming same-sex marriage as ABC-Nashville has done by endorsing Bishop Flunder, is beyond the boundaries of Baptist/Evangelical thought.

This situation in Nashville is a scandal and travesty of the highest order, and a great disservice and injustice to the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., perpetrated by the American Baptist College. Therefore, the National Baptist Fellowship Of Concerned Pastors makes the following nine requests:

1. We are asking President Forrest Harris to rescind the invitation to Bishop Flunder to serve as a guest lecturer and worship leader at ABC in the upcoming Garnett-Nabrit Lecture Series, solely on the basis that she is a proud, practicing, and public advocate of same-sex marriage.

2. We are asking Dr. Jerry Young, the President of the National Baptist Convention, to release a statement that reveals to his constituents where he stands on the scheduled appearance of Bishop Yvette Flunder at ABC during this year’s lecture series at ABC. It is our belief that Dr. Young is not in support of a lesbian Bishop speaking at ABC. We are requesting that he publicly make his position known.

3. We are asking Dr. Jerry Young to remove from the National Baptist Convention website the promotion and advertising of Bishop Flunder’s appearance at ABC.

4. We are requesting that if President Harris insist on bringing Bishop Flunder—in spite of what we believe to be against the wishes and in violation of the belief of the vast majority of the National Baptists—then we are asking that the event be held somewhere other than facilities owned by the National Baptist Convention.

5. We are requesting of President Young and President Harris, if Dr. Harris move forward with Bishop Flunder’s scheduled appearance, then they inform in writing the students, parents, alumni, and all NBC pastors and churches, that for two consecutive years American Baptist College has invited a lesbian United Church of Christ bishop to lecture at our school. Integrity demands that parents of the students at ABC be informed of the marital status of Bishop Flunder. Integrity also demands that all NBCUSA Churches be officially informed of the marital status of Bishop Flunder.

6. We are requesting that President Forrest Harris provide answers to the following questions:

A. Is the pro-Gay lifestyle and same-sex marriage affirmed and taught as acceptable at ABC?

B. What is the current and historic position of the National Baptist Convention on the subject of same-sex marriage and the gay lifestyle? Has that position changed recently? Does the NBC believe that homosexual acts are sinful within or outside of a “marriage” context?

C. What was the dollar amount given to ABC from the NBC over the past 3-4 years?

D. If we send students to ABC, will they be taught in the classroom that same-sex marriage is acceptable and the gay lifestyle is an alternative lifestyle?

E. Dr. Harris and Dr. Young, are you aware that Dr. Yvette Flunder is a practicing lesbian, legally married to a woman?

F. Would the NBC constituency embrace their mission funds going in partial support to subsidize a practicing lesbian speaking at our college that we own and operate?

G. What is the governing relationship between ABC and NBC? Is the responsible party for Bishop Flunder speaking ABC or NBC?

The information in this Press Release was sent to Dr. Jerry Young, Dr. Fred Campbell, Dr. Forrest Harris and also to several members of the Board of Trustees of the American Baptist College. As of to date no response has been received.

Therefore, we feel as if we have no other recourse, but to make this public appeal, with the hopes that someone with knowledge and answers to these questions may provide them. Our churches, associations and state conventions need to know the answers to these questions. We are sure that there are pastors who would share our concerns also, that may be able to persuade President Harris to provide some answers.

7. We are encouraging fellow National Baptists and all Baptists who have any strong passions and convictions about this issue—no matter what they are—to contact the offices of President Forrest Harris and President Jerry Young and register their convictions about this matter. More importantly, we are encouraging all Baptists to add these concerns to your prayer list, and if you are so inclined these concerns can be added to your church’s prayer ministry requests.

The phone number and email addresses to Dr. Young’s office and Dr. Harris’ office are as follows:

Dr. Jerry Young, president@nationalbaptist.com,
Phone: (601) 362-6265, Fax: (601) 362-1854
New Hope Baptist Church, 5202 Watkins Drive, Jackson, MS 39206

Dr. Forrest E Harris, officeofthepresident@abcnash.edu,
Phone: (615) 256-1463, President and CEO, American Baptist College
1800 Baptist World Center Drive, Nashville, TN 37207

8. We are asking the National Baptist Convention to hold Dr. Forrest Harris accountable for his actions.

9. We are also concerned about two proponents of same-sex marriage sharing the lecture platform with Bishop Flunder—Pastor Delman Coates, who successfully led the campaign to win the popular vote for same-sex marriage in Maryland, and Alan Bosaek who attempted unsuccessfully to persuade the South African Dutch Reformed Church to approve of gay-marriage. It appears that under the theme of “Ministry in Motion: Living Faith, Doing Justice,” ABC is poised to promote implicitly same-sex marriage. Pastor Coates is scheduled to do a lecture on “Doing Justice” twice at ABC. He views the same-sex marriage issue as a “justice” issue. We view it as a moral issue. To redefine a sin issue as a justice issue is a serious spiritual violation and one that the NBC should not be a participant in, even by association.

The Forrest Harris’s same sex marriage issue is driven by a simple failure to believe and apply the Bible where the Bible speaks clearly and authoritatively. He has also opened the door for liberal theology of the worst kind to creep into the NBC. If what Dr. Harris has done is allowed to stand without accountability, he will inflict a wound and a debilitating disease upon the NBC with long-term and far-reaching consequences.

If there is a redeeming value to this scandal, it will force the NBC to take a stand on what we believe about biblical authority and application—at least on the issue of same-sex marriage—and that can’t help but be a good thing.

Our main reason for releasing this information to the public is so that history will record that a small group of NBC pastors went on record opposing the notion of a lesbian bishop lecturing at our institution—American Baptist College. Furthermore, we seriously want answers to the questions above and inasmuch as we could not get the answers from ABC we want anyone who has these answers to share them with us that we might share them with our constituencies.

Finally, thanks for your consideration of these matters. If there are other Baptist pastors and parishioners who want to add their names to this signatory list, we will provide a way for you to do that. Go to https://www.change.org/p/national-baptist-convention-usa-inc-and-american-baptist-college-your-signature-on-the-following-petition-is-documentation-that-president-forrest-harris-of-abc-and-president-jerry-young-of-the-national-baptist-convention-usa-inc-are-duly-notified-tha-2 .Your signature indicates that you are in support of the concerns and positions addressed in this statement. We will provide the entire list of signatures to Dr. Young, so that he will know where we stand, and so that history will not record that a lesbian bishop lectured at ABC for two consecutive years, and there was no registered, documented objectors to her appearance. Because Dr. Young believes in the authority of Scripture, we are confident that he will guide the NBC ship in the right direction.

The coordinating pastors, who are signing this list, do not officially or unofficially, in any way, represent the National Baptist Convention, Dr. Jerry Young (President). Each coordinator only represent themselves and perhaps the ministry that they are associated with. The National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors has absolutely no official relationship with the National Baptist Convention. We are simply proud members of the National Baptist Convention who love it and are concerned about the ABC matter.

In the Will of God,
National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors, Coordinators,

Pastor Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr., Cornerstone Church, 5415 Matlock Road, Arlington, TX 76108

Pastor Randy Vaughn, Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, Port Arthur, TX

Contact: Veronica Griffith, Cornerstone Baptist Church – 5415 Matlock Rd. Arlington, TX 76018
Telephone: 817.468.0083 ext. 203 / Fax: 817.468.0309 / Cell: 817.903.0283
Email: vgriffith@cbcarlington.org; Web: http://www.cbcarlington.org

Contact: Cheryl Brewer, InView Communications, Cell: 214-493-1180; Email: mscbrewer1@gmail.com

IS A GEORGIA BAPTIST COLLEGE COVERING UP RACISM?

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

The Bible says, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses” (1 Timothy 5:19).

Three witnesses recently came forth to deliver charges of racially offensive comments from the lips of Dr. Ergun Caner, who recently resigned as President of Brewton-Parker College in Mt. Vernon, Georgia. Dr. Caner did not resign when faced with the allegations of racist remarks. His trustee board—including Michael Pigg, a Black trustee—all stood by him. They did not consider the testimony of three witnesses reliable enough for them to hold Ergun Caner accountable for his racist speech. When the then chairman of BPC Trustee Board was given testimony of Dr. Caner’s racist and vulgar comments, Gary Campbell’s response was: “Why are y’all making a bigger deal out of this than it is?” according to Dewayne Bynum, Director of Plant Operations at BPC, who also reported to the trustees, racist comments made by Dr. Caner. Bynum further reported that Dr. Caner’s comment to his (Bynum’s) attorney was “It was no big deal”!!! What incredible, irresponsible responses to racist comments of the most vile, vicious, and vulgar sort…“It was no big deal”!

People underreport racism for the same reason women underreport rape. Why? Because there are a great number of people who categorically dismiss, disregard, deny, deflect, defend, marginalize and seek to destroy anyone who would dare reveal to larger circle closeted racism. The way the BPC trustees have handled, or mishandled, the reports of racism on their campus would discourage anybody from ever reporting acts of racism there.

If we are going to root out racism in society, we must gather the intestinal fortitude to gracefully, lovingly, humbly and truthfully confront racism, whenever and whenever it raises its ugly head. We cannot conquer what we do not confront. We cannot fix what we don’t face. In order to defeat racism, we must confront racism.

Gary Campbell became acting President at BPC for a few days following President Ergun Caner’s resignation and before the appointment of Dr. Charles Bass as the interim President. During Campbell’s brief presidency, he fired Dr. C. B. Scott, one of the Vice Presidents at BPC, because Dr. Scott reported to the trustees and the executive staff at BPC the allegations of Dr. Caner’s racist remarks. Seriously, BPC? You would fire a man for reporting racism, at the same time that you want to recruit minorities to your campus? Now that we know for certain how the BPC trustees will handle allegations of racism, we also know that it is not a trustworthy place for minorities to attend, if matters of race have to be adjudicated by the current trustees.

When faced with inappropriate sexting communication allegations, the BPC trustees allowed Dr. Caner to resign. But when faced with allegations of racist commentary, the BPC trustees wholeheartedly gave support to Dr. Caner. The racial indiscretions should have been just as weighty to the BPC trustees as the “inappropriate” communications allegations.

Perhaps if Dr. Caner had been held accountable for inappropriate words in the past regarding women and the Black church, things wouldn’t have ever gotten to the place at BPC where Dr. Caner would have been comfortable communicating irresponsibly, racially and sexually.

In a recorded sermon a few years back, preaching at a men’s gathering in an Ohio church, Dr. Caner shows certain insensitivity toward women:

 “Dr. Caner, do you believe in women behind the pulpit? My answer is well, yeah, of course, how are they going to vacuum back there unless they get behind it….[laughter, and hoots and hollers]…..and that’s going to be in half of your pulpits next Sunday. FEEL FREE!!! I LOVE THAT LINE!! But you know one line like that shuts it all up, ’cause they’re not going to talk about it, and they’re not going to talk to you for a while, which is good, which is good.”

I would certainly pause before I considered sending my daughter to a college presided over by a man who reflected the mindset revealed by the statement above. The attitude and mindset behind the above statement suggest that he holds women in less than high esteem.

While preaching in the pulpit of FBC, Jacksonville, FL, several years ago, Caner gave an extremely false caricature of the Black Church. Ergun Caner made condescending and stereotypical remarks concerning the Black Church in a sermon preached at First Baptist of Jacksonville, FL. Caner’s observation certainly would not be true of the Black church that I pastor and the majority of Black churches that I’m aware of. Yet, his remarks were met with approving laughter. I don’t believe that he would have made those same remarks in a Black church. Caner essentially said Black churches do not put the preacher up to preach until about 1:00 p.m. That’s not true. Black churches, according to Caner, take up “twelve offerings”. That’s untrue. Caner further stated:

“… you go to a Black church gentlemen, you are not going to have on a blue suit, you are going to have blue shoes to match, and your handkerchief is going to match your tie, and your whole outfit is going to match your car. It’s BEAUTIFUL. And ladies: when we talk about black church, we’re talkin’ about hats. And I’m not just talkin’ Easter hats as some of you may wear, I’m talkin’ ’bout satellite dish hats. [laughter]. Big enough to receive a signal, with a curtain rod goin’ down the front that you can just pull the curtain across”.   [Ergun Caner, The Warrior Church, June 14, 2009]

By the grace of God, I have been privileged to preach over the past thirty six years in twenty seven states, at least seventy five cities, and in over one hundred and eighty pulpits or public venues across the length and breadth of America. The vast majority of those preaching assignments were in Black Baptist pulpits. My point is, Ergun Caner may have had a better opportunity to judge the social mores of the Black church more so than I, but it’s doubtful. I can truly say that what Ergun Caner stated is simply, generally not true. As a matter of fact, I’ve never witnessed what he described. If I stated that White preachers preached in Hawaiian shirts and encouraged married couples in their churches to have sex seven straight days, and wore toupees; that may be true in isolated cases but it would be unfair, inaccurate, and racially stereotypical, without foundation, for to me make such a claim as normative.

Caner owes FBC Jacksonville an apology. Caner owes the Black church an apology. His remarks were damaging to the reputation of the Black church in the minds and hearts of his hearers. One would expect better than this from a college President.

When I read Caner’s untruthful words about the Black church spoken at the major, Anglo FBC, who really couldn’t evaluate whether or not he was being truthful, I don’t find it a stretch to believe that he said the words attributed to him by persons at the Brewton-Parker College that he was President of until recently.

Dewayne Bynum, Maria Garvin, and Zakery Pitt—three witnesses—have all gone on record with first-hand accounts of racial rhetoric espoused by Dr. Caner. All three of them were found to be less than credible in establishing a truthful testimony that Dr. Caner had spoken racially offensive in the eyes of the trustees. My heart bleeds for these three brave citizens of the Kingdom of God, who sought to address this matter biblically by reporting it to the proper authorities. My heart bleeds for Dr. C.B. Scott who would dare provide a listening ear and address the concerns of these two students and one faculty member to the proper authorities.

Dr. C.B. Scott, is not only terminated, but is asked to sign a paper indicating that he will only testify on behalf of BPC against the three witnesses if this matter ever reaches the court system. How sad!!! BPC trustees refused to discipline the man who spoke the racist words, but was willing to fire the man who brought to their attention the racist words. How sad!!!

I am just a voice, crying in the wilderness; but I am going out on a limb, stepping out on faith and asking the BPC trustees to reconsider their decision regarding firing Dr. C.B. Scott. I’m asking that you offer him his job back. As a matter of fact, Dr. Scott has the integrity, scholarship, pastoral and administrative experience, and the backbone to serve Brewton-Parker College through this turbulent transition season in the very position that he was released from. Dr. Scott could help restore wholeness to the school again. His return to the faculty would certainly restore the trust to many, that matters related to race would be dealt with fairly and objectively and not swept under the rug.

Director of Plant Operations at BPC, Thomas Dewayne Bynum, provided the following statement to BPC trustee chairman, yet it was disregarded:

“This is a statement regarding a conversation that I had with Dr. Ergun Caner, President of Brewton Parker College February 5, 2014. I had gone over to the president’s house to talk with Dr. Caner about an email that he had sent days earlier about a potential “cyber stalker” incident. We were talking about the shape of the facilities and what needed to be done to get all of the buildings repaired and/or updated. At this time Dr. Caner said that he was misinformed by the board of trustees about the magnitude of the problems at Brewton Parker. I told him that they may not have known the full extent of the buildings issues because they had been misinformed. Dr. Caner then stated that he believed that they were aware and then said “they nigger dicked me is what they did”, I could not believe my ears and asked him “what did you say” and he then said “they nigger fucked me”. After this l must admit that my mind was reeling and I did not really comprehend much of what was said the next few seconds. We finished our meeting about the buildings (which all took place beside his car behind the house) and I left. Later I spoke with a vice president, Dr. Scott, and related to him that Dr. Caner had spoken to me on a vulgar way but I did not go into detail about what was actually said. I was embarrassed to give Dr. Scott the details at the time and told him that I hoped that it was because Dr. Caner was upset and it was not how he actually felt. Since then I have had conversations and overheard Dr. Caner speak in derogatory ways about African Americans, so I am now convinced that this is a part of his character.” (Director of Plant Operations, Brewton Parker College, Thomas Dewayne Bynum)

Maria Garvin’s statement:

“Yesterday, December 16, 2014, I, Maria Garvin, along with Zak Pitt were told to put in some light bulbs at Dr. Ergun Caner’s home. This was called in around 3:20 PM. Zak and I were let into Dr. Caner’s home by Dr. Caner’s youngest son Drake. Upon entering their home, Drake went to the back where we could here Dr. Caner talking on the phone. Personally, I was under the impression that Drake had gone to tell Dr. Caner that we were there to put in the light bulbs for him, but ten seconds later, Drake returns down the hall and tells us that his dad wasn’t quite ready yet. So Zak and I waited in the dining room area that is across from the front door.

Not too long after Drake had told us to wait, I begin to over hear a few of the things that Dr. Caner was talking about on the phone. One of the first things I heard was an issue that had gone on pertaining to the track team. Juan Castanon had been kicked off the team due to him swearing at the coach Matt Smith and the athletic director Greg “Boo” Mullins. Dr. Caner had his phone on speaker so not only could we hear everything that Dr. Caner was saying, but we could also hear what Juan was saying. Juan begin to ask Dr. Caner about his scholarship money and whether or not he would be able to keep it. Dr. Caner told Juan that he talked to the people in financial aid, and he would be able to keep his track scholarship even though he is ineligible to run through NAIA. Juan told Dr. Caner that he was aware of this to which Dr. Caner asked if Juan had sworn at the track coach and the athletic director. Juan reassured Dr. Caner that this information was false and that he would never do that, and he would never do such a thing to anyone. Dr. Caner then told Juan that Coach Mullins probably pulled his scholarship to try to free up more scholarship money for the baseball team. Juan agreed and shortly following, they both hung up the phone.

Not too long afterwards, Dr. Caner called someone else to which he discussed his previous phone call he had received from Juan. I believe it had to be his brother solely based on the conversation that followed. Dr. Caner was asking for his brother’s advice about what he should do in the situation concerning Juan. His brother responded that he had his VP of Affairs handle those types of situations. Dr. Caner then said that he wouldn’t dare put the individual that he had for that area over the situation because it was Dr. C.B. Scott. He then proceeded to tell his brother why he wouldn’t allow Dr. Scott to be over the situation stating that Dr. Scott doesn’t know how to communicate well with people, he is a terrible teacher, he doesn’t work well with others, he doesn’t fundraise, and to top it off he acts like he is half black. Personally, all of the statements that were made towards Dr. Scott I found obscene because I think he is a nice person, and I’ve never had a problem with him, but for Dr. Caner to say that Dr. Scott acts like he’s half black struck me as odd. What exactly is wrong with being half black or black at all? I was beyond offended when I heard that come from the president’s mouth because I am half black. I also thought that for Dr. Caner to be such an eloquent speaker and well respected leader that that was a very narrow minded thing for him to say, and in that brief moment, I lost my respect for him saying that.

Additional comment by Maria Garvin:

“Recently, a circumstance has occurred that has led us to believe that the president of Brewton-Parker College has been a participant of racial discrimination. However, there have been several instances in which this has happened on the campus of Brewton-Parker. Racial discrimination is a social issue that not only affects students on campus, but also the community around them. Discrimination has become institutionalized, meaning that various systems, with higher education being one of them, make decisions based on race unconsciously and sometimes consciously. Many times racism and discrimination can be taboo, but if we can address it up front, then we can change it upfront. Colleges are a significant part of what a community is, and the students are a huge part of what a college is, as it provides education for students coming from various neighborhoods and high schools. They can become a major turning point for students in building relationships with people of differing backgrounds than their own. If college students can become more aware of racial discrimination and what it means, they will be better equipped, as our country is becoming more diversified. There will be a need to understand racial discrimination and working with others different than oneself in the workforce. Racial discrimination is real and we need to address it. The differential treatment of people based on the color of their skin should not be tolerated.

With that being said, it is imperative that this current situation pertaining to Dr. Caner’s remark be addressed. If it is okay for the president to make such derogatory remarks, then who is he to correct anyone relating to such matters? Moreover, if we can attribute this behavior to Dr. Caner, it is safe to suggest that he condones this behavior seeing as how he displays it himself. A college president must be in tune with the student population, which is almost always comprised of hundreds or thousands of diverse individuals from all over America and around the world. Dealing with so many people and their opinions is a daunting task; the plethora of problems that are possible when several students collide with each other are limitless. However, how can one deal with these same individuals’ problems equally if all of these individuals are not viewed as being equal?

In short, this incident must be handled swiftly and with care. Even if that means contacting a higher power such as the NAACP whose sole purpose is to “inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination” and “ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens” as it clearly says in their mission statement. As a part of the student body at Brewton-Parker and a member of the African American community, I feel that it is my responsibility to aid in this effort.”

Zakery Pitt’s Statement:

“Yesterday, December 16, 2014, I, Zakery Pitt, as well as my co-worker Maria Garvin overheard a disturbing conversation at Dr. Caner’s home. Around 3:30 our boss, Dewayne Bynum, called and instructed us to go to Dr. Caner’s house with some light bulbs. So Maria and I went to Dr. Carter’s house with the light bulbs and were met by his son Drake at the door. We followed Drake inside and as we waited in the dining room Drake went to a different part of the house to notify Dr. Caner that we were there. Drake came back and told us that Dr. Caner was not ready yet, so we were under the impression that he would be out in just a minute. As we were waiting in the dining room Maria and I overheard Dr. Caner talking on the phone on speakerphone. I quickly recognized the voice as Juan Castanon, a student at Brewton Parker. During the conversation Juan was asking about his scholarship money for next semester for track. The athletic director, Boo Mullins, pulled his scholarship because of disciplinary actions regarding the cursing out of Boo Mullins and the head track coach. Dr. Caner asked Juan if he cursed them out and Juan denied it several times. Dr. Caner continued the conversation by reassuring Juan that he had his scholarship and that he would receive that scholarship next semester. The conversation ended at that point.

At this point Maria and I were sure that Dr. Caner was aware of our presence and he would join us in the dining room, but he started another conversation on the phone with whom I assume was his brother, Emir Caner, President of Truett Mcconnell College. He was asking him for advice on how to deal with the situation with Juan and the AD Boo Mullins. Caner said he felt that Boo needed to be checked with his power because he thought the only reason Boo pulled Juan’s scholarship was to free more money for the baseball program. Caller’s brother explained to him that at his school he placed the VP of Affairs over the AD. Caner said that Dr. C.B. Scott was his VP of Affairs and there would be no way that he would place him in that position. Dr. Caner continued by saying some disrespectful comments about Scott. Caner said that Scott was “horrible in the classroom, horrible with people, did not try to fundraise money, and thinks he is half black.” Dr. Caner also continued by saying that Dr. C.B. Scott wanted to be the Academic Dean. Caner and his brother laughed out loud and Caner said that Scott would never be put into that position. After that Caner received another call.

The third and final call was from Jennifer Blaylock. She called him complaining about Nikki Jones and Leslie Harrell. Blaylock said that Nikki Jones was repeatedly telling Leslie Harrell to not do something even after Caner told Blaylock to tell Harrell to do it. From Blaylock’s voice I could tell she was very upset and mad, even going to the extent and cursing (“shit”) while explaining the situation to Caner. Caner told her he understood why she was mad but it wasn’t Nikki Jones’s fault. Also, Blaylock was complaining about how Leslie does not know how to do her job because Nikki Jones did not train her fully. Caner responded by saying Nikki Jones will continue training her until fully equipped.

After Caner’s final conversation, his son Drake went back to where Caner was and again told him that we were still waiting. Caner obviously did not know we were still there as he acted dumbfounded. He came to the dining room and said that he could change them himself and he did not need our assistance. So Maria and I left Caner’s house.

Throughout this whole incident I was shocked for many reasons. As the president of a Christian college you should live by a higher standard of professional morals and ethics. The comments made about Dr. C.B. Scott were obviously unprofessional, but were also erroneous. Also, why is Caner believing a student over his administration? Above all, the racist remark by Caner really upset me. If our student population would have heard the things I heard, especially the African-American population, they would no longer want to attend a school under the realm of Dr. Caner. I find myself questioning the leadership and integrity of our president Dr. Caner. In fact, that questioning of Dr. Caner is a prominent factor in my decision to transfer schools this Christmas. I genuinely enjoy this school and the people in it, and would seriously consider coming back if people seriously reconsidered who they have as president of Brewton Parker College.”

According to Maria and Zakery, Dr. Caner referred to C.B. Scott as “half Black.” I have two grandsons that are the byproduct of an inter-racial marriage. Therefore, I found his “half Black” statement particularly bothersome, inasmuch as the context of the words he used suggest that being “half Black” is seen in a negative light by Dr. Caner.

Biblically speaking, how did BPC trustees dismiss the testimony of three witnesses? Actually, there were four total with the FBC Jacksonville statement?

My appeal to BPC is to simply do the right thing. Admit you acted in haste and prematurely in the dismissal of Dr. C.B. Scott. Offer Dr. Scott his job back. And please cease publishing articles that paint Dr. Caner as a victim.

Ergun Caner is a man that I’ve never met. I have no great admiration or disdain for him. I have no axe to grind with Ergun Caner. I am definitely not a Calvinist who is out to win a theological debate against him. He and I probably share in common a strong disagreement with Calvinism. Caner is a man who is hurting. His son Braxton committed suicide several months ago. As a result, Ergun Caner has faced some medical issues in response to his grief over his son that certainly any parent can relate to and be sensitive to.

Therefore, my intent here is to express gratitude, respect, admiration and appreciation for C.B. Scott for his bold, biblical and courageous stand to hold Ergun Caner accountable for racially insensitive and racist words from his mouth. It is not my intent or desire to bash Ergun Caner. If we are going to eradicate racism from this world, we need more men like Dr. C.B. Scott.

My prayer is that God would heal Ergun Caner and his family’s aching heart. My prayer is that the Lord would repair the broken pieces of Caner’s life. My prayer is that God would build Caner up where he is weak and strengthen him where he’s torn down. My prayer is that God would raise up Caner’s bowed-down head. My prayer is that Caner would smile and be set free again from the chains that seem to bind him. My prayer is that Caner would soar high again in ministry and minister to others mightily from the pain of his experiences. Therein may lay the secret to his healing.

I pray that God would meet Dr. C.B. Scott’s every need during this turbulent season in his life and his family’s sojourn. I pray that he, his wife or children will not become bitter, angry or unforgiving. I pray that they will not be weary in well doing knowing that in due season they will reap if they faint not.

I pray that Brewton-Parker College trustees would offer Dr. Scott his job back. At the very least, I pray that they will provide for him a one-year service package with full medical benefits. It is morally reprehensible for C.B. Scott to walk away from BPC with absolutely nothing, while Caner walks with a full one-year salary and benefits package.

In this season, where the Southern Baptist Convention is making quantum leaps forward in race relations, I pray that Brewton-Parker College’s handling of this situation would not be viewed by historians one day as a step backward by a SBC-affiliated institution.

THE SBC AND RACIAL UNITY:

DO FLOYD, MOORE AND LAND REPRESENT A SEA CHANGE?

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The apostle John described a picture in heaven of every racial, ethnic, and language group praising God together in unity. If heaven is a picture of racial unity and tranquility, shouldn’t—at least among God’s kingdom citizens on earth—there should be a demonstration of racial unity and peace? The Psalmist said, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).

The Southern Baptist Convention, founded in 1845 in Augusta, GA, is renowned for being the largest protestant denomination and the most impactful and influential evangelistic, missionary, disciple-making ministry and kingdom-driven enterprise in the history of world Christianity. The SBC is also renowned for practicing and even preaching racism throughout the majority of her history. Thankfully, the SBC is making serious progress toward reversing the negative aspect of her legacy.

In a 1951 press release, ”Looking Back: Southern Baptist seminaries desegregated before desegregation,” the SBC proudly announced that the SBC seminaries were opening their doors to “carefully selected Negroes”—not even realizing that that phraseology—“carefully selected Negroes”—reeks with racism. In 1995 the SBC gave a formal apology to America and African Americans for her racist practices and positions. A demonstration of genuine fruit of repentance related to race in the SBC certainly moved in the right direction with the election of Pastor Fred Luter as President in 2012, but a continued all-White executive cabinet level entity heads since 1995, still leaves the question in suspense—has the SBC genuinely turned the corner racially?

There are Southern Baptists who have expressed insensitive and myopic remarks with racial overtones, against the back drop of the Ferguson and Staten Island (Eric Garner) fiascos. Pastor J.D. Hall stated in response to the Ferguson protestors:

 “The evangelical message needs to be, ‘We understand you have grievances. We understand you feel you’ve been wronged. Let’s discuss that, but first go home, tuck your kids in, and go to bed early so you can get up in the morning and be a productive citizen. Then, let’s talk.’”

Pastor Randy White stated in response to Professor Matthew Hall of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary statement in support of racial reconciliation being a gospel demand.

“Is racial reconciliation a ‘Gospel demand?’ Certainly not.”

However, recently The Lifeway Research Survey findings confirm that “Racial Reconciliation is mandated by the Gospel,” according to 90% of Protestant pastors surveyed.

Pastor and Professor Kevin Stilley labeled the response to Russell Moore’s expressing anguish and pain over the Eric Garner decision, “An Incendiary Statement”:

“Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Commission tweeted the following comment shortly after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict a New York police officer in the death of Eric Garner.

And then the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention issued a press release in which Moore wrote:

“I’m stunned speechless by this news. We hear a lot about the rule of law—and rightly so. But a government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice. We may not agree in this country on every particular case and situation, but it’s high time we start listening to our African American brothers and sisters in this country when they tell us they are experiencing a problem.”

I thought these communications to be ill advised and tweeted this response,

…There are four reasons why I believe the comments of Russell Moore and the ERLC were inappropriate and incendiary.

  1. The comments of Moore were emotionally charged reactions, not well reasoned responses.  The ERLC consistently states that it is its desire to show churches how they should respond in the midst of difficult cultural crises. Well, do we really want our churches and pastors out there emoting in the public sphere in a manner inconsistent with James 1:19-20?”

Kevin Stilley violated the unwritten policy of SBC employees to not publicly criticize SBC entities and entity heads. I was publically reprimanded by SWBTS for violating this unwritten policy; but not Professor Stilley? Go Figure! And to label Russell Moore’s response to the Staten Island verdict (Eric Garner) as an “Incendiary,” emotional,” “ill advised,” and not well reasoned” are subjective and judgmental. Furthermore, it completely ignores the fact that Russell Moore would not be sitting in his seat if his history was given to incendiary, ill advised, not-well-reasoned and emotional commentary. If Kevin Stilley had agreed with Russell Moore’s statement, he would not have described Russell Moore’s response with those words. I’ve discovered in SBC life when one cannot refute your arguments with facts they tend to dismiss it as emotional.

The J.D. Hall, Randy White and Kevin Stilley responses—based on history—are responses that one would expect from the SBC.

Then comes the current SBC President Ronnie Floyd, Richard Land (the former President of the SBC ERLC), Russell Moore and Ed Stetzer, all making public statements that, quite frankly, are non-typical of SBC personalities with regard to racial issues.

The Baptist Press reports these comments from President Ronnie Floyd:

“’The time is now for us to rise up together and cry out against the racism that still exists in our nation and our churches, and the subsequent injustices,” Floyd wrote. “We are grieved that racism and injustice still abound in our nation in 2014. All human beings are created by God and in His image. The dignity of each individual needs to be recognized and appreciated by each of us and by all of the 50,000 churches and congregations that comprise the Southern Baptist Convention.’”

“Floyd referenced 1 Corinthians 12:26 in calling for Southern Baptists to understand and work to alleviate the pain of racism and injustice within the body of Christ.”

“’With heavy hearts, we recognize the deep pain and hurt that has come to many of our African American brothers and sisters. The recent events in America have reawakened many of their greatest fears. Their wounds from the past run deep,” Floyd wrote. “Without relationships and conversations, we will never understand one another. Because you hurt, we hurt with you today. We are a part of the same body of Christ, His church, which is to be a picture of the multi-faceted wisdom of God.’”

The first SBC president that I ever heard prophetically and redemptively address a public controversial issue with racial overtones was Dr. Fred Luter when he addressed the Trayvon Martin saga. As I listened to Dr. Luter’s commentary concerning Trayvon Martin, it brought tears to my eyes. That was the first time I ever heard a SBC president address the pain of our reality with a view toward healing. Dr. Ronnie Floyd now becomes the second SBC president that I’ve heard address a controversial issue related to race identifying with our suffering and seeking solutions through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am deeply encouraged by Dr. Floyd’s commentary, rooted in the biblical language of 1 Corinthians 12:26.

Richard Land stated:

“America’s problem with race goes back to our beginnings. From our first encounters as Europeans with Native-Americans in Virginia and New England, race has been the serpent in the garden. For all of her greatness, America’s treatment of non-whites has been an ongoing tale of prejudice, abuse, and malign neglect.

Unfortunately, the Nobel Laureate William Faulkner was right when he observed, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” There are always the ghosts of the racist past among us, coloring how we perceive the present. Our present is always informed and tinted by our past experiences. Consequently, while most white Americans were dismissive of theories that the police framed O. J. Simpson, many African-Americans, based on their past experiences, found such accusations far too believable.

Once again, in the wake of Ferguson and Staten Island, people default to their past experiences. Like most Anglos, I must confess I have never had a negative experience with a police officer, white, brown, or black. I know few African-Americans, however, who have not had truly bad experiences with the police or know someone well who has.

The only way to truly bridge this divide, heal this rift, and move forward is for Christians, twice-born men and women, to come forward and take the lead in the immediate formation of ethnically diverse coalitions where people can tell each other their stories and begin to exorcise the ghosts of the past together.

Ultimately, we must seek to get out of our comfort zones and strive with intentionality to form truly multi-ethnic, multi-class churches where people of differing ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds worship together and minister to one another as equal members of the local body of Christ. Then we will hear and know each other’s stories, and we will put faces we know on racial and economic injustice. Such churches will truly transform our culture.”

I am really proud of Richard Land; this is the Richard Land we all thought we knew. Truth be told, Richard Land laid the foundation for the SBC ’95 repentance statement and all the positive changes we are beginning to see racially in the SBC. His statement above is perhaps the most powerful and persuasive statement yet made by a SBC personality on this subject.

Russell Moore stated:

“The mood in Ferguson, Missouri, is tense, after a grand jury decided against indicting a police officer for the killing of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. The tension ought to remind us, as the church, that we are living in a time in which racial division is hardly behind us. That reality ought to motivate us as citizens to work for justice, but also as the church to seek to embody the kingdom of Christ.”

The combined statements of Floyd, Land, Moore and Stetzer represent a sea change for Southern Baptists. Their statements are more powerful to me than the ’95 repentance statements or the election of Fred Luter. The ’95 statements and the election of Fred Luter were no-brainers, and simply the right and expedient thing to do. There was absolutely nothing to risk in either decision…only something to gain.

However, the statements made by Floyd, Moore, Land and Stetzer are indicative of courage, character, consistency with the ’95 statement, and respect and sensitivity to people of color within the SBC. I know for certain that there are many in the SBC sorely displeased with the published positions of the aforementioned SBC personalities with regard to acknowledging the pain and legitimacy of the concerns that African Americans have related to Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland and elsewhere.

These brothers represent a sea change in SBC life. They are willing to stand in solidarity with the suffering of African Americans over these issues. I respect their right not to declare guilt or innocence of any of the parties involved in the incidents that have given rise to the controversies. But I deeply appreciate their break with SBC tradition to identify with the pain and suffering and to acknowledge the racial injustices and inequities of the past and present.

May God bless the SBC! May she continue toward this path of racial healing! May she march on toward the inclusion and empowerment of people of color serving at the entity head level! When that occurs, the sea change will be complete.

RUSSELL MOORE, THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM AND ERIC GARNER

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

Our nation is ill-at-ease. The number one item purchased on Black Friday was guns. Ebola, ISIS and terrorism are threatening us from afar. Questionable and controversial Grand Jury decisions have erupted into civil unrest within. Race-relations; family life; definition of a family; church attendance; economic wellbeing; and optimism about our collective future are all undergoing serious revisions, doubts and uncertainty daily.

It seems as if foundations are crumbling. Land marks are being removed. Creation is groaning. The church that Paul described as the pillar and ground of truth is virtually helpless to address the nation’s ills. Because we are divided by race, denomination, doctrine, politics, and a common vision, the church is essentially seated on the side lines—while Rome is burning—trumpeting an uncertain and muted sound.

We often hear that the only hope for our nation is the gospel of Jesus Christ. But the reality is, the church—even Southern Baptists—don’t all agree on what the gospel is. Could it be that families, churches, school systems, city governments, police departments, court systems, the white House, and American Society as a whole are suffering from a deprivation of, definition of, and delivery of the gospel? The church is engaged in a debate as to what really is the gospel? How can we proclaim a gospel to a decaying and dying world that we can’t even define?

The first time the word gospel is mentioned in the New Testament it has a qualifying term accompanying it: “…the gospel of the kingdom…” (Matthew 4:23). Jesus made it clear that before He returned, not just the gospel, but the “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached” (Matthew 24:14).

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come (Matthew 24:14).

The American Evangelical Church has preached the gospel, but have we preached the “gospel of the kingdom”?

During slavery the Baptist churches in the South would preach the gospel of the cross one Sunday, and the gospel of segregation and slavery the next? Were they truly preaching the “gospel of the Kingdom”?

The gospel preached in America has the qualifying element often missing, that Jesus said is indispensable to the preaching of the gospel, and that is—“the kingdom.” It is impossible to preach the gospel as commissioned by Jesus without preaching “the kingdom.” Much of our preaching is devoid of “the kingdom” which may explain the leanness in our souls and in our pews.

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matthew 9:35)

Not only did Jesus preach “the gospel of the kingdom” he told his disciples, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 10:7). Jesus’ final message to his disciples concerned itself with “things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

The disciples followed Jesus’ model and obeyed Him preaching the kingdom. Consequently, they “filled Jerusalem with your doctrine” (Acts 5:28). What doctrine? The answer is “gospel of the kingdom.” The same doctrine Jesus indoctrinated them with for forty days (Acts 1:3). The disciples “turned the world upside down…saying that there is another king, one Jesus” (Acts 17:6-7). The disciples preached, not just the gospel…but “the gospel of the kingdom.”

Fast forward to today and we are debuting whether or not the gospel includes the kingdom. Southern Baptist pastor, Dr. Randy White, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, considers the preaching of the kingdom as a present reality and a further hope is “The Kingdom Error.” Pastor White believes that the Kingdom is exclusively a future hope, but not a present reality. He believes that “One of the most pervasive doctrinal errors in the church today pertains to the kingdom of God.”

Pastor Randy White believes,

“The Kingdom of God is the future, earthly Kingdom in which Christ is the sovereign King who rules the nations from the throne of David.  It is a physical Kingdom, based in Israel, with the Messiah as the sole Monarch.  It is the coming Theocracy.  It has Israel at its core, the Messiah on its throne, and the nations of the earth as its sphere.  This is the kind of Kingdom that is so clearly taught by the Prophets and understood by the Apostles.  In fact, no sane interpretation of the Prophets could conclude anything other than a future physical Kingdom for Israel and established by God with the Messiah as monarch.  To conclude any less would be to grossly abuse every principle of Biblical interpretation.

To “seek first the Kingdom of God” does not mean to get your spiritual priorities in order.  In fact, such an interpretation would make the remainder of Matthew 6:33 contradict many other Scriptures, even in the Sermon on the Mount.  Because the Kingdom is future and physical, to seek His Kingdom is to live for the coming age, not the current age.  It is to understand that this age is filled with poverty and persecution, but the coming age is when all these things will be added unto you.  To seek His Kingdom is to long for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8), and to pray come quickly, Lord Jesus!” – See more at: http://www.randywhiteministries.org/2012/02/23/the-kingdom-error/#sthash.ESP7O1X4.dpuf

Pastor White preaches and applies his view of the kingdom to current reactions to the verdict in Ferguson.

“Ferguson, MO has erupted in barbaric violence that should cause all law-abiding citizens to demand the restoration of the rule-of-law, but the Evangelical world is preaching kum-ba-ya sermons about race-relations.” – See more at: http://www.randywhiteministries.org/2014/11/26/dont-understand-evangelical-response-ferguson/#sthash.b4hsszLu.dpuf

Pastor White seems to see no connection to the happenings in Ferguson to race-relations. Interesting? He admits, “I’ve gotta say, I just don’t get it.”

Pastor White strongly objects to Vice President of Academic Affairs at Southern Seminary, Matthew Hall’s, position that “all Christians should be mindful of the gospel’s demand for racial reconciliation and justice.” Pastor White believes that racial reconciliation is “not a doctrinal or theological issue, and certainly not a ‘gospel demand.’ If there is something biblical that expresses racial reconciliation as a gospel demand, I’ve missed it.”

Along comes a fellow Southern Baptist, Russell Moore, who articulates quite a contrarian, but biblical, viewpoint related to White’s view of the gospel not demanding racial reconciliation. Dr. Moore acknowledges that there are those in the south who are saying “there is no gospel issue in racial reconciliation.” To which he responds:

“Are you kidding me? There is nothing clearer in the New Testament that the gospel breaks down the dividing walls that we have between one another. The gospel is what turns us away from hating our brother so much… If that is not a gospel issue then I don’t know what is.”

When one considers that we are commanded to not just preach, but preach “the gospel of the kingdom” that Kingdom would inherently include justice and racial reconciliation. Micah 6:8 says:

“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?”

Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Jesus made unity with all people a prerequisite to world evangelism. He prayed:

“that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21)

Jesus commanded that the gospel be preached to every creature which implies racial reconciliation. Because we have separated the gospel from the kingdom, we don’t see the gospel’s relationship to kingdom justice. Thank God for Russell Moore, he sees it!

The Evangelical Church has been preaching a gospel devoid of justice, kingdom and racial reconciliation. We are now reaping the harvest in our land of a kingdom-less gospel. May we all begin to preach the gospel of the kingdom!

  • The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that salvation through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus is available now (Acts 20:21).
  • The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that eternal life through the only true God and Jesus Christ is available now (John 17:3).
  • The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that abundant life is available to the believer through a vital relationship with Christ the king…now (John 10:10).
  • The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that the Kingdom of God has invaded the earth realm through Jesus Christ the King, and His kingdom is an unshakeable kingdom (Hebrews 12:28).
  • The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that Christ’s kingdom is an eternal Kingdom (Luke 1:33).
  • The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that inherent in His kingdom is spiritual, relational, emotional, and economic resources for the poor and poor in spirit (Luke 6:20; Matthew 5:25-31; Philippians 4:19).
  • The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that inherent in His kingdom is racial reconciliation, inclusion, and equality (Revelation 22:17; Matthew 13:47; Galatians 3:28).
  • The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that Christ came to liberate the oppressed (Luke 4:16-19).

A gospel that does not demand racial reconciliation, justice, and mercy is a gospel that I don’t want. Thank God for Russell Moore who stated, “Christian, if you don’t believe these are gospel issues we face today, we don’t believe the same gospel.”

For years the Southern Baptist Convention preached that the ground was level at the foot of the cross, but then made it multi-level in classrooms, church rooms, board rooms, halls of Congress and court rooms. It may be that God is giving Southern Baptists a second chance to get it right. May we not just preach the gospel, but preach and practice the “gospel of the kingdom”!

When we received the King, we also received His Kingdom. Now the question is one of application. As the kingdoms of this world are shaking, people are going to begin to search for an “unshakeable kingdom.” May the Lord place us on one accord so that we can preach, proclaim and demonstrate His unshakeable kingdom to a world desperate for answers!

IMPORTANT PROMISED LINKS CONCERNING FERGUSON

By Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

Here are some links I promised to provide. In a strange way, I am believing God to bring healing and unity out of what appears to be division and doubt at the moment. I sense God is up to something. And I am on the tip-toe of anticipation about what God is going to do in the days to come.

BLACK-ON-BLACK VIOLENCE: PASTOR VODDIE BAUCHAM’S ASSAULT ON BLACK PEOPLE  

http://drewgihart.com/2014/12/01/black-on-black-violence-pastor-voddie-bauchams-assault-on-black-people-by-austin-channing-brown-christena-cleveland-drew-hart-and-efrem-smith/

A BLACK MAN IS KILLED IN THE U.S. EVERY 28 HOURS BY POLICEhttp://www.occupy.com/article/black-man-killed-us-every-28-hours-police

@ShaunKing exposes Ferguson PD lie about distance from SUVhttps://storify.com/VeryWhiteGuy/shaunking-exposes-ferguson-pd-lie-about-distance-from-SUV

Why exactly did the police lie for 108 days about how far Mike Brown ran from Darren Wilson?   http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/26/1347499/-Why-exactly-did-the-police-lie-for-108-days-about-how-far-Mike-Brown-ran-from-Darren-Wilson

Video: Police lied. Mike Brown was killed 148 feet away from Darren Wilson’s SUV;  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/20/1346374/-BREAKING-VIDEO-Police-Lied-Mike-Brown-was-killed-148-feet-away-from-Darren-Wilson-s-SUV

Shaun King Exposes Ferguson PD Lies About Michael …  http://www.blackenterprise.com/news/shaun-king-exposes-ferguson-pd-lies-about-michael-brown-case/

New Witnesses Say Michael Brown Had His Hands Up …  http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/09/new-witnesses-michael-brown-had-hands-up.html

Thabiti Anyabwile: Why I Believe the Grand Jury Got It Wrong and Injustice Triumphed;  http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2014/11/26/why-i-believe-the-grand-jury-got-it-wrong-and-injustice-triumphed/

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