DECATUR, Ga. — In the wake of recent events in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and CBF Moderator Rev. Kasey Jones have urged Cooperative Baptists to stand in solidarity with African-American Baptists through prayer during worship this Sunday and to commit to the continued pursuit of racial reconciliation. Jones is senior pastor of the National Baptist Memorial Church in Washington, D.C.
The statement reads:
The tragedies in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., have brought to the surface racial tensions rooted in real disparities and inequalities that continue to impact our society for the worse. As a people, we continue to struggle with the sin of racial injustice. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus commands his disciples to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Because of our love for God and our neighbor, we must seek peace through justice. This is our divine calling.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is committed to pursuing racially-reconciling partnerships. Through our partnership with the New Baptist Covenant since 2008, we have sought to break down barriers of race among Baptists to fulfill Jesus’ mandate in the Gospel of Luke to proclaim the good news and set the oppressed free. Living out Jesus’ Luke 4 vision begins with people forming together in Christ, listening beyond divisions and walking a new way.
This Sunday, December 14, the churches of one of our partners in the New Baptist Covenant, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, along with other historic African-American denominations, plan to designate a special time during their worship services to mourn these recent events and pray over the children, asking God’s covering on their lives, families and communities.
We invite the Fellowship to stand in solidarity with our African-American Baptist sisters and brothers bearing witness through prayer and vigil this Sunday. Pray for God’s deep peace to be experienced by all—that it would be the undercurrent running beneath all that is said and done. Pray that God’s message, “Do not be afraid,” would settle hearts and give way to deep listening and seeing through ears and eyes of mercy and grace—the bridge between justice and peace. Pray that God’s desire that we may be one would lead to relationship building, of seeing ourselves in the other, and therefore into forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. Pray that through God’s love we can become a reconciling people.
Through the New Baptist Covenant, congregations across the Fellowship are entering into “covenants of action” with other Baptist churches to seek reconciliation in their communities through cooperative missions and advocacy. From promoting literacy to working to end hunger to combating predatory lending, these churches are following God’s call to love one another.
We encourage Cooperative Baptists to consider attending the upcoming New Baptist Covenant Summit, Jan. 14-15 in Atlanta and make your own covenant of action. Hear from “voices of covenant,” such as Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, whose church, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, has entered into a covenant of action with Park Avenue Baptist Church, a CBF partner congregation, to improve literacy rates among teens in their Atlanta neighborhood. Bring your church leaders and friends, join in and covenant together to fulfill Jesus’ Luke 4 vision.
CBF Executive Coordinator
Rev. Kasey Jones
CBF Moderator Pastor, National Baptist Memorial Church, Washington, D.C.
CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.