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CBF leaders and pastors urge Georgia legislature, governor to support hate crimes legislation

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Statement from Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia Concerning the Murder of Ahmaud Arbery

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia condemn the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and the slow response of law enforcement. We understand that the reckless, vigilante nature of this killing must be seen through the lens of history, particularly in the South.

In response, we are urging action and pledging to do more ourselves.

We recognize that dismantling the systemic racism which pervades our society will take work and long-term commitment. It will take changing policies, changing hearts and building new relationships of mutual respect and trust.

We recognize our unique responsibility and opportunity as leaders in predominantly white congregations to address racial injustice in our own community.

It is a shame that Georgia is one of only four states which does not have a hate crimes law. We are calling on the Georgia legislature and Governor Kemp to support hate crimes legislation that recognizes the God-given dignity of every person by enhancing the penalty for crimes motivated by hate.

CBF pastors, denominational and lay leaders residing in Georgia are invited to add your name to this statement urging the Georgia legislature and governor to pass hate crimes legislation. Add your name here. Please note, we will be updating this post and publishing the names of signatories. 


Initial Signatories and Quotes from CBF and CBF Georgia leaders and pastors: 

“This upcoming week’s preliminary hearings are taking place in Glynn County following the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Please join me in praying for Ahmaud’s family as they grieve his death and the senseless, violent, hate-filled way it happened. I pray that justice will prevail. During the coming weeks, difficult and important questions will be asked in a courtroom of those who took Ahmaud’s life. As the General Assembly reconvenes in Atlanta, the state of Georgia must enact hate crimes legislation as a clear statement that crimes motivated by hate deserve more severe punishment in our state.

“Churches must also ask ourselves how we are being called to follow Jesus in confronting the underlying fear, prejudice and hate that still rages not only in our public square but even in the hearts and minds of those of us who call ourselves Christian. This responsibility falls primarily upon those of us who are white Christians. Hatred or fear based upon race is far removed from anything we see or learn from Jesus. We need to hear the anguished testimony of our black sisters and brothers so that we are changed and moved to act. This moment requires both the living of real, bold and courageous faith and working to change systems and laws.”
—Rev. Dr. Paul Baxley, Executive Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

“The senseless murder of Ahmaud Arbery once again forces us to confront the realities of systemic hatred and prejudice that endanger people of color in our state and around our country. To take a persons’ life is a grave sin; to use that person’s God-given characteristics as a pretext for such murder is a theological affront to God. I am grateful for the good work of CBF Advocacy in helping Fellowship Baptists find and use their voice to speak out against the ingrained injustices of our world. Their work, combined with our resolve that there should never be another case like Ahmaud’s, is essential for us to live out Jesus’ prayer that the will of God be done here, on earth, as it is in heaven.”
—Rev. Dr. Jody Long, Executive Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia

“Ahmaud Arbery’s senseless murder shows once again that the prejudice, bias and hatred still present in America are a daily threat to the lives of black men. While we condemn this violence, the response by law enforcement and civic leaders in Glynn County calls us to do more to help bend our systems toward justice. CBF Advocacy is committed to leading the Fellowship towards action for racial equity and justice. I’m grateful that in the wake of this murder CBF pastors and CBF of Georgia are committed to the work of advocacy and I’m eager to help them engage in effective advocacy alongside so many others working for criminal justice reform.”
—Stephen K. Reeves, Associate Coordinator of Partnerships and Advocacy, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga. 

“As a Christian standing alongside my colleagues of various faith traditions, I recognize that the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament have a word for us during this time.  From the Psalms and Proverbs which describe violence as nothing short of detestable to the Lord, to the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the women caught in adultery which consistently call me and us to recognize and give voice to those victimized by violence.

“We, as Americans, must come to terms with the long history of prejudicial behavior we have exhibited in the generations before and make a commitment to see it does not continue into the generations that follow. Specifically, I call on our Georgia legislators to present, pass, and implement HB 426, a bipartisan Hate Crimes Bill, which is on the table.   You have a responsibility to the citizens of Georgia and opportunity to make Georgia a better place to live for all in the generations to come.”
—Rev. Dr. Tony Lankford, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of St. Simons Island, Ga. 

“In Romans 13:10, the Apostle Paul writes these words, ‘Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.’ In these days of violence against our black neighbors, and in these time of protest,  we have once again been confronted with our collective history of racism and injustice. As people of the Christian faith, we confess our need for both personal and societal repentance and transformation. We must do the difficult work of naming our racism and join together to create a more just society by listening to the cries of our neighbors. We are calling upon our Georgia state legislators to respond to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by presenting, passing and implementing HB 426, a bipartisan Hate Crimes Bill. It is not only with personal change but also with systemic change that we will be able to move toward a more just and loving community.”
—Rev. Wendy Peacock, Moderator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia and Pastor, Fellowship Baptist Church, Americus, Ga.

“The sin of white supremacy is the church’s sin. For as long as white supremacy has been the prevailing ethos of our land, the white church has been there offering moral cover and theological legitimacy. It is imperative that historically white denominations and congregations, as well as individual white Christians, come to terms with and confess this grievous truth. As we confess our participation in this history of racial violence, we must also commit to being active participants in the work of racial justice. I pray that this statement on behalf of CBF, CBF pastors, and CBF congregations is a step forward, however small, in both accounts. I am eager to contribute to this important and long overdue conversation to bring hate crime legislation to Georgia, in the hopes that it will open us to larger conversations on comprehensive criminal justice reform.”
—Rev. Scott Dickison, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.

“How very small and inadequate is any word I may speak in the face of such loss and injustice. The racially motivated murder of Ahmaud Arbery, and the unconscionable prevalence of such targeted hate and acts of aggression across our nation beg for more than words. They demand and deserve new action to be taken. I do, indeed, value the symbolic power of the spoken word, but as a Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am persuaded that it is only in the “Word becoming flesh,” that true transformation is possible. (John 1:14). I join fellow CBF of Georgia Pastors in calling for legislation that recognizes the intrinsic value of all Georgians, and truly enfleshes our most widely spoken words and deeply held hopes for an end to racially motivated crimes of hate.”
—Rev. Dr. Shaun King, Senior Pastor, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Johns Creek, Ga.

“Ahmaud Arbery’s death was not what God designed for creation. Jesus died so that he could have life and have it abundantly. Though the rebellion of racism once again tried to foil God’s restorative plans, we, as people of faith, can and must continue the work of dismantling the fear, deception and hatred that led to his murder. My faith calls me forward to express the justice of resurrection to victim and victimizer alike, no matter the cost. I’m grateful to be a part of Christ’s body as we move into that hope together.”
—Rev. Paul Capps, Senior Pastor, Peachtree Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.

CBF pastors, denominational and lay leaders residing in Georgia are invited to add your name to this statement urging the Georgia legislature and governor to pass hate crimes legislation. Add your name here. Please note, we will be updating this post and publishing the names of signatories. 

Additional Signatories:

Rev. Ruth Perkins Lee, Director of Church Engagement, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Dr. Aaron Weaver, Director of Communications, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
David White, Connections Pastor, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Alpharetta, Ga.
Shauw Chin Capps, Peachtree Baptist Church, CBF Foundation President, Decatur, Ga.
Brian McCartney, First Baptist Church, Griffin, Ga.
Joyce McCartney, First Baptist Church, Griffin, Ga.
Linda Clagg, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Milton, Ga.
Augustine Murthy, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Suwanee, Ga.
Nathan Byrd, Milledge Avenue Baptist Church, Interim Pastor/Minister to Older Adults, Athens, Ga.
Philip Hedgecoth, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Evans, Evans, Ga.
Carlton Allen, Senior Minister, First Baptist Church, Commerce, Ga.
Sara Robb-Scott, Associate Pastor, Scott Blvd Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Ron McCaskill, Pastor, Christ Church, Cairo, Ga.
Chip Reeves, Pastor, Community Baptist Church, Milledgeville, Ga.
Natasha Nedrick, Greenforest Community Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Rev. Deborah Gaddis Reeves, Lilburn, Ga.
Leslie Morgan, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Alpharetta, Ga.
Dr. Bill G. Bruster, Retired Pastor and CBF Network Coordinator, Southlake, Tx.
Rev. Katie Callaway, Co-Pastor, First Baptist Church, Savannah, Ga.
Rev. John Callaway, Co-Pastor, First Baptist Church, Savannah, Ga.
Heather Heaton, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Johns Creek, Ga.
Rev. Joshua Speight, Manager of Leadership Development, CBF, Decatur, Ga.
Rev. P. Scott Lee, Hospital Chaplain, Atlanta, Ga.
Rebekah Edmonds, Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, Ga.
John Mark Boes, Partnerships and Advocacy Specialist, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Beverly Sturgill, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Johns Creek, Ga.
Rev. Dr. Bryan J. Whitfield, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Kimberly Sheridan, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Johns Creek, Ga.
Matthew Marston, Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Moultrie, Ga.
Connie White, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Johns Creek, Ga.
Olivia Ivey, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Johns Creek, Ga.
Shelley Tolbert, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Johns Creek, Ga.  
Greg DeLoach, McAfee School of Theology, Roswell, Ga.
Harold Tessendorf, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Rev. Matt DuVall, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Rome, Ga.
Richard Green, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Alicia Shell, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Rev. JD Granade, Associate Pastor, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Cathy Logue, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Rev. Justin Moser, Associate and Youth Minister, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Dean Davis, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Johns Creek, Ga.
Debby Richardson, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Scott Coleman, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Elder Deena Wingard, Founder and CEO, Your Reasonable Service Ministries, Atlanta, Ga.
Connie Jones, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
John Harper, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
DeWayne Moore, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Jonathan Simpson, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Richard Francis Wilson, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Leslie Brogdon, Minister to Families, Peachtree Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.
Rachel Green, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Amy Wiles, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Laurie Fitzsimmons, Youth Ministry Intern, Calvary Baptist Church, Lexington, Ky.
Tiffany Lankford, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Wes Browning, Atlanta, Ga.
Ashley Melugin, Sugar Hill Church, Buford, Ga.
Tiffani Hill, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Mike Carrigan, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Renee Bennett, Highland Hills Baptist Church, Macon, Ga.
Earlene Vestal, Peachtree Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.
Rachel Sherron, Minister of Children and Families, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Nikki Hardeman, Park Avenue Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.
Rev. Dr. Steven Porter, Coordinator of Global Missions, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Ron McClung, Pastor, Haddock Baptist Church, Haddock, Ga.
James Smith, Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church, Atlanta Ga.
Philip Baker, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Prissy Baker, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Barbara Whitworth, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
David Whitworth, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Neil Heath, Highland Hills Baptist Church, Macon, Ga.
Dihanne Moore, Associate Pastor, Oasis International Worship Center, Stone Mountain, Ga.
David Jordan, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Kristian Smith, Pastor, The Faith Community, Atlanta, Ga.
Kathy Jenkins, Statesboro, Ga.
Richard Pennington, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Brandy Respert, World Changers International, Snellville, Ga.
Michelle Lawrence, Atlanta, Ga.
Daniel Vestal, Peachtree Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.
Cheryl Helton, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
James Helton, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Cynthia Leake, Atlanta, Ga.
Jim Jinkins, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Tara Ann James, Associate Minister, Community Church of God, Atlanta, Ga.
Kitty Knight, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Karen Ebey-Tessendorf, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Tavonda Hudson, Atlanta Friends Meeting, Atlanta, Ga.
Rev. Ellen Sechrest, Manager of Global Mission Engagement, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Keon Reid, New Bethel International Ministries, Lilburn, Ga.
Fran Pierce, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Jack Pierce, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
LaToya Cross, Grant Specialist and Human Resouces Liaison, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Faith Hamilton-Trent, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Mimi Walker, Senior Pastor, The Church at Ponce and Highlands, Atlanta, Ga.
Preston Powers, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Kevin Crotty, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Jeff Huett, Associate Coordinator of Communications and Advancement, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Devita Parnell, Director of Young Baptist Ecosystem, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Sam Harrell, Associate Coordinator of Global Missions, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Adam Granger, Assistant to the Executive Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Rev. Dr. Harry Rowland, Associate Coordinator of Congregations and Leadership, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Dan Todd, Director of Accounting, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Matt Snyder, Director of Communications, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Kristen Koger, Pastor for Children and Families, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Randall Hampton, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Kyle Tubbs, New Church Starts Manager, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Katie Cummings, Macon, Ga.
Anne Packard, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Jill Gill, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Scott Pyron, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Rob Fox, President, CBF Church Benefits, Decatur, Ga.
Don Hammonds, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Betty Hammonds, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Rev. Michael Jennings, Minister of Worship, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Tommye Morris, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Susannah Mize, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Sharyn Dowd, Edgewood Church, Atlanta, Ga.
Tracy Pondo, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Carol Hadley, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Rev. John Paul Harris, Pastor, Horizon Baptist Fellowship, Summerville, Ga.
Jennifer Lowery, Dallas, Ga.
Glenda Kessler, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Gwen Cottrell, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga. 
Jacqueline Durham, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.
Debbie Iwasaki, Connections Ministry Assistant, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Johns Creek, Ga.
Lynn Chapman, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Thom Chapman, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Dianne Lawton, First Baptist Church, Brunswick, Ga.
Rev. Sarah Murray, Minister to Families with Children, First Baptist Church, Griffin, Ga.
Melanie Newton Williams, Waynesboro, Ga.
Nicole Austin, Macon, Ga.
Ashley Litzell, Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, Ga.
Dustin Fuller, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Christin Fuller, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Lynda Smith, Eagles Nest Church, Johns Creek, Ga.
Beverly Owens, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Jennifer Medgull, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Amy Alderman, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Kasey Jones, Associate Coordinator of Strategic Operations and Outreach, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Ga.
Micah Pritchett, Pastor, North Broad Baptist Church, Rome, Ga.
Diana Powers, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Mary Buckner, Johns Creek Baptist Church, Johns Creek, Ga. 

 

 

6 thoughts on “CBF leaders and pastors urge Georgia legislature, governor to support hate crimes legislation

  1. We fully support – and believe it is long overdue – the Hate Crime Bill for the State of Georgia, HB 426. It is a shame in this day and age that all men and women are not treated equally! We are ALL created in His image – black and white and we ALL deserve equal protection in eyes of law.

  2. Pingback: Your Biblical Response to Racial Injustice: Don’t Wash Your Hands - goodfaithmedia.net

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