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FIRST-PERSON: Keeping the dream alive

MESQUITE, Texas (BP) — Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. has given us a vision of hope, a dream that we must keep alive in America. It is a dream that continues to overshadow a history steeped in the despair of godless attitudes and relationships. This dream provides all Americans the inspiration to contest the unholy norms of separatism that have been interwoven into our society for hundreds of years.

It’s good to see that Southern Baptists are leading the way to break institutionalized bias and are on the path to total inclusion and acceptance of all people in leadership. While the excitement of the occasion is still high in the hearts of all who attended this historic election, I hope to portray the joy we experienced with our brothers and sisters who did not attend the meeting. I wish every Southern Baptist could have felt the excitement present at this historical convention. From my viewpoint, the 2012 annual meeting had the greatest display of diversity of any convention that I have attended in my 21 years as a Southern Baptist pastor. It was the largest reflections of what I envision heaven will look like because of the diverse multicultural presence of men and women who were involved in Kingdom affairs.

The excitement and joy that filled the nearly 8,000 messengers at the Rev. Fred Luter’s election for SBC president was without a doubt one of the highlights of my life as a Southern Baptist. It was wonderful to witness how God is moving in the life of Southern Baptists and to observe God bringing our convention together in such a spectacular way. It was exceptional and inspirational to be a part of God stirring the hearts of Christian men and women with the power of His love. The experience was overwhelming.

Filled with emotions, I openly wept as I noticed the men and women around me weeping for joy as they waved their ballots high above their heads in favor of his presidency. It was great to see the enthusiasm of people from all ethnicities weeping as they made history by putting all racial barriers aside. America has always been a great nation, but in moments like this she continues to reveal her greatness. The words of Samuel Francis Smith’s “America,” written in 1831, echoes with pride, even today: “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

It is my prayer that we will keep the dream alive that makes us one people in Christ and one as Americans. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream that one day, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” These words from Dr. King’s dream speech represent an American dream, a dream that our convention is one step closer to fulfilling with this election. We see the wheels of brotherhood turning within our convention, and it’s an occasion to be excited about! The psalmist reminds us how good it is when Christian brothers and sisters fellowship in oneness of spirit. Keeping the dream alive.
Terry Turner is senior pastor Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas, and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Terry Turner