BGAV Executive Board Proposes Resolution on Racism
BGAV Executive Board composed a Resolution on Racism in October 2020
In October 2020 after much prayer and discernment, the Executive Board of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) composed a Resolution on Racism, which recognizes racism as sin and affirms the inherent worth of all persons.
"The teaching of our Lord Jesus, in Matthew 5:23-24 and elsewhere, compels us to right the wrongs we commit against others,” explained Rev. Dr. Adam Tyler, BGAV’s current President, who serves as Senior Pastor of Grace Hills Baptist Church in Appomattox, VA. “We have sinned against our Black brothers and sisters through the years, both by commission and omission. This resolution is but the first step on our road of repentance."
Since BGAV’s Constitution and Bylaws prohibited voting in the virtual format of the 2020 annual meeting, the resolution will be voted on at the 198th BGAV Annual Meeting, to be held November 9-10, 2021, at Eagle Eyrie in Lynchburg, VA.
Rev. Dr. Marshal Ausberry, Sr., who currently serves as 1st Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Senior Pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax Station, VA, gave input during the drafting of the resolution, which was developed in response to the ongoing, institutional racism that continues to affect African Americans even 152 years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment. Ausberry is also the current President of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC. He surmised, “The Resolution on Racism is a heartfelt and sincere acknowledgement of our painful past and shares a beautiful vision for our future together as brothers and sisters in Christ. The resolution memorializes the work Virginia Baptists have been doing and must continue to do to make this world a better place for all.”
The resolution calls for action to advance the biblical principle that all humans are created in God’s image. It outlines specific measures BGAV will take in a unified effort toward eliminating racism, celebrating the presence and participation of African American brothers and sisters in Christ in all areas of its missions and ministries.
“Healing is a process that begins with acknowledgement,” commented Rev. Dr. Herbert L. Ponder, who serves as BGAV Clerk and is Pastor of Mount Tabor Baptist Church in Richmond, VA. “I am grateful for the work of the Executive Board in making a statement that begins the healing process. I am further thankful to witness the commitment by the Executive Board to make a strong statement that reflects the intention for a better future.”
Mrs. Becky McKinney, current Chair of the BGAV Executive Board and member of Chatham Heights Baptist Church in Martinsville, VA, described the board’s intentions and desires in introducing the resolution. “We felt compelled as an Executive Board to make a bold and clear statement on the racism our Black brothers and sisters have faced in the past and continue to face each and every day. We pray this resolution will be the beginning of a journey of reconciliation and healing that will lead us to concrete actions to address racism in our communities, our churches, and the BGAV.”
BGAV Executive Director, Rev. Dr. John V. Upton, Jr., reflected with appreciation on the intent of the board and the sincere process during which they crafted the resolution. “I am so grateful for the careful thought given by so many to this resolution,” said Upton. “It is both transparent and hopeful. The very collaboration this resolution generated is a sample of the future to which God is calling us.”
Virginia Baptist Executive Board Resolution on Racism
Approved by the Executive Board
October 6, 2020
WHEREAS, more than 400 years after Africans arrived in America, where they and their descendants were enslaved, America continues to struggle with racial injustice and full protection under the law; and,
WHEREAS, the Declaration of Independence provides in part that, “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”; and,
WHEREAS, the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that no person within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be denied the equal protection of the laws of the United States; and,
WHEREAS, after 244 years of independence and 152 years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment, the goal of equality has yet to be fully realized; and,
WHEREAS, structural racism impacts Black lives with risks not experienced by others at the point of daily activities like driving, walking in neighborhoods or just going to a park, and creating barriers at the point of life events like getting a job, purchasing a home, buying a car, or raising a family; and,
WHEREAS, at a time when a global health pandemic is exposing long-standing inequities in health education and economic security while at the same time entrenched racism is being exposed in the misuse of force by certain law enforcement; and,
WHEREAS, racism and poverty are inextricably linked, and racism and racial discrimination threaten the fulfillment of the basic human right to survival, security, development, and societal participation of Black Americans; and,
WHEREAS, Genesis 1:27 affirms that ALL are created in the image of God clearly expressing that Black lives matter; and,
WHEREAS, Jesus taught the foundation of the law and prophets was to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself, making it clear in his teaching that everyone is our neighbor; and,
WHEREAS, many of our Virginia Baptist forbearers defended the right to own slaves, and either participated in, supported, or accepted the existence of American slavery; and,
WHEREAS, many of our Virginia Baptist churches failed to support, and in some cases opposed, efforts to secure the civil rights of Black Americans continuing the legacy of racism;
WHEREAS, racism denies our common humanity in creation and our belief that all persons are made in God’s image; and it finds our worth in terms of racial identity rather than in our inherent value demonstrated in the love expressed through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for all persons.
THEREFORE, WE RESOLVE to recognize racism as sin and affirm the inherent worth of all persons.
WE RESOLVE to work to eliminate racism by celebrating the presence and participation of our African American brothers and sisters in Christ in all areas of our missions and ministries of the BGAV.
WE FURTHER RESOLVE, to unite our efforts to:
- Repent of complicit racism, both past and present;
- Eliminate all forms of institutional racism in the totality of our ministries, giving special attention to those institutions we support;
- Create opportunities to deal honestly with existing racist attitudes and to deepen our commitment to be a place where all racial groups and economic classes can come together;
- Learn and remember the names of those who have been killed tragically because of the color of their skin, names like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Michael Brown. We remember these names and more;
- Encourage workshops and seminars in local churches to study, understand, and appreciate the historical and cultural contributions of African Americans to the church and community;
- Add Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK) as an approved holiday for the BGAV.
- Raise local churches’ awareness of the continuing needs for equal education, housing, employment, medical care, and justice for all members of the community and to create opportunities to work for these goals across racial lines;
- Facilitate nomination and election processes in the BGAV that include all racial groups;
- Work for the development and implementation of national and international policies to protect the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of all people.
- Use measures to align our vision for racial equality with actions that accelerate racial parity.
- Encourage a season and time of prayerful lament; lamenting of our past and fortifying our love and commitment toward one another and for all Virginia Baptists.
- Following the leading of our Lord and Savior, we join in prayer for unity in the Body of Christ locally and throughout the world that we stay on mission to reach the world for Jesus Christ.