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Taking stock of divisions among U.S. Baptists
Christian Century, Jan 17, 1996
...At its sesquicentennial convention in June , the 15-million-member SBC adopted a resolution repenting for past racism and asking for forgiveness from African-Americans. But that doesn't mean that Baptists in the north and south can expect to get back together soon, agreed speakers at the meeting. The two bodies have become increasingly estranged as the SBC has grown more conservative and the 1.5-million-member American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. has moved to the left.
Historian Bill Leonard, a professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, also said reconciliation between moderate and conservative Baptists is unlikely. He urged Baptists to seek unity by returning to a "voluntary society" approach to missions and ministry that would allow churches to work together on selected shared interests.
But Luther Copeland, a former Southern Baptist missionary, expressed doubt that most Baptists are interested in transcending differences. "The fundamentalists already have a cohesiveness which they find in their southern culture and don't see much need to work with others," he said. "Even among moderates, I don't see them wanting to work ecumenically."
The colloquium was sponsored by the host church, the Alliance of Baptists, the American Baptist Board of National Ministries, the American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island, the American Baptist Historical Society and the William H. Whitsitt Baptist Heritage Society.
COPYRIGHT 1996 The Christian Century Foundation
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