A group of pastors and church leaders from Montgomery, Ala., Mobile, Ala., and Charleston, S.C., released a joint statement today on racial reconciliation, justice and unity in the gospel. Signatories included leaders of different ethnic and denominational backgrounds.
The leaders gathered online for a Zoom meeting this afternoon, with representatives from The Pledge Group, 1 Charleston, John 17, Awaken Together and the Charleston Baptist Association. Charleston mayor John Tecklenburg and Mobile mayor Sandy Stimpson also joined the call, with Montgomery mayor Steven Reed sending a video greeting.
Kyle Searcy, senior pastor of Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery, moderated the conversation.
“We didn’t have to come together, but we did it because we care,” Searcy said. “We did it because together we’re better than we are apart.”
Ed Litton, senior pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Ala., helped organize the statement and serves on the steering team of The Pledge Group, a movement of leaders “who want to shrink the racial divide” in the Mobile area.
In an email to the Biblical Recorder, Litton said members of The Pledge Group take initiative to foster and deepen relationships across racial, socio-economic, ethnic and denominational lines.
“I hope that my Southern Baptist family will seek to reach out to those who are different from us, foster friendships and seek to unite in reaching our communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve our communities together,” Litton said.
“Jesus made it clear that by this kind of love for one another, our communities will know that we are His disciples. My hope is that our commitment to the gospel would strengthen us for the biblical mandate to be reconciled to one another and bring healing in our land.”
Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston, also signed the statement. Blalock told the Recorder that the pastors connected over the past three months to encourage each other and learn from the different ways they were addressing racial division in their churches.
“The beauty of this statement is that we discovered God working in similar ways in these three cities,” Blalock said.
“In Charleston this statement was signed by the African American pastor of our newest Baptist church plant, RaShan Frost of the Bridge Church, who helped craft the statement. The two of us stand together, side by side, and I serve as pastor of the oldest SBC church there is,” he said. “Pastor Frost and I share the common bond of the gospel and a heart to see our churches lead the way to reconciliation in our city. We believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is essential to see true biblical justice and reconciliation across the racial divide.”
“When the very public killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in 2020 brought the nation to a crisis, our cities were affected too,” the statement read. “The pain, the fear, and the trauma in our communities revealed a division that many hoped had been relegated to the past.
“We confess that, too often, people of color in our cities have borne alone the burden of contending for racial unity and of educating people in the community regarding issues of race and justice.
“We commit to act locally in our own cities and region to sacrificially love our neighbors of all backgrounds, to lay down our lives for one another, to work for justice to right past wrongs, and to rebuild our ancient cultural and relational ruins and raise up the age-old foundations (Isaiah 58:12) of trust, peace, and integrity … We invite Christians across the South and across America to join us in this endeavor to ‘let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’ (Amos 5:24) and to bring healing and unity to our long-standing divisions.”