General CBF

Advocate and theologian calls for breaking of shackles of ‘soul lockdown’ at New Baptist Covenant Luncheon


June 18, 2015

By Carrie McGuffin


Dr. Iva Carruthers addresses the crowd gathered at the New Baptist Covenant Luncheon.

DALLAS — “The journey of reconciliation requires all of us to persevere through the rough edges.…In reconciliation we have committed to a fly-over, rather than an immersion,” said, advocate and theologian Iva Carruthers to Cooperative Baptists at the New Baptist Covenant Luncheon held June 18 as part of the 2015 CBF General Assembly in Dallas.

Carruthers, who serves as the General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, shared her experience of racial reconciliation and challenged those gathered to think critically about the nature of racial tension and divide in our nation, particularly in light of the tragedy of the recent killing of nine people at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.

Looking to the New Baptist Covenant’s vision and calling in alignment with the Baptist cornerstone principle of soul freedom, Carruthers said that we are rather stuck in a situation of “soul lockdown.” Inviting attendees to consider the theory of Ubuntu, which, according to Archbishop Desmond Tutu is best defined as “to live in a space where my humanity is inextricably bound to yours,” Carruthers challenged the crowd to engage and complete the transformative work of bringing about communities that recognize the breath of God and divinity in every person.

“Think with me for a moment about this emotional lockdown — this soul lockdown,” Carruthers said.

“As a theological construction soul lockdown is a state of confining, restricting the breath of God, and thus we have a Charleston, a Ferguson, a Baltimore….’I can’t breathe’ became more about America’s unresolved issue of race than just [Eric] Garner’s physical state,” she said, emphasizing that soul lockdown is the side effect of a normalized culture of violence and the creation of privileged authority.

“All of us are in soul lockdown and cannot truly breathe,” Carruthers said. “All lives matter. Free our souls from the past and let us breathe.”

In responses to this soul lockdown, Carruthers called on Christians to be transparent about the state of the nation and the need for justice and reconciliation, urging attendees to turn over the tables in the temple as Jesus would, insisting that Christian leadership demands bearing a burden, and that Christian leaders must be the change that they seek. That change, said Carruthers, must start at home in our sanctuaries and in our temples.

“Reconciliation is painful,” Carruthers said, quoting Tutu. “In the end it is not enough to attack external actions with a call of peace and ignore systemic causes.…We must accept that transforming this nation is going to require a radical program of regulatory justice and reconciliation.”

Katie Ferguson Murray (right) and Danielle Ayers (left) share stories from the Dallas Covenant of Action Partnership.

Katie Ferguson Murray (right) and Danielle Ayers (left) share stories from the Dallas Covenant of Action Partnership.

The New Baptist Covenant is an informal alliance of more than 30 racially, geographically, and theologically diverse Baptist organizations from throughout North America that claim more than 20 million members. Representatives of these Baptist organizations have reaffirmed traditional Baptist values, including sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality, as well as their obligations as Christians to fulfill the biblical mandate to promote peace with justice, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick and the marginalized, and promote religious liberty and respect for religious diversity. To learn more, visit


CBF is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry eff­orts, global missions and a broad community of support.The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission



One thought on “Advocate and theologian calls for breaking of shackles of ‘soul lockdown’ at New Baptist Covenant Luncheon

  1. In light of the shooting in Charleston, the work of the New Baptist Covenant to foster racial reconciliation and justice in our communities is critically and strategically important–now more than ever. I am pleased with the collaboration between CBF and NBC.

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