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IMB executives deplore racial incident in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Leaders of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board say they are “appalled” at a situation in which an African American family in Richmond, Va., was forced to move out of its suburban neighborhood over racial slurs and hate mail.
“This cannot occur without our lifting our voices in protest,” said IMB Executive Vice President Don Kammerdiener, who has lived in Richmond 19 years.
He said the actions that caused the family to move out of its neighborhood were wrong morally and biblically.
“Racial and ethnic prejudice in our home city goes against God’s mandate in the Scriptures and undermines our own credibility among other groups worldwide with whom we work,” Kammerdiener said. “The Great Commission mandates that we carry the gospel to every tribe, every nation, every people group everywhere. Consequently, we deplore racial and ethnic mistreatment against any group anywhere, including our own base city.
“As Christian citizens, we must seek a just and fair society in which we live, and as evangelical Christians, we must proclaim that God’s love and redemption are for all people regardless of race, creed or color,” he said.
The incident came to light March 15 when Richmond television station WRIC reported the unidentified family had received an anonymous letter saying: “Dear Negroes … You frighten us … . It is better for you and for us if you just leave … .” The letter followed verbal comments from neighbors referring to the family as “you people.”
WRIC reported the couple “felt unsafe” and moved out of The Carriage Homes at Wyndham, an upscale development in western Henrico County on their own.
Several governmental agencies are investigating the situation, according to the report.
Kammerdiener said IMB President Jerry Rankin and other leaders of the board “are appalled this could happen here.”
“The quotes in the letter indicate the people who wrote it were trying to use language that was as soft as possible, but it still expressed racial hatred, which we must oppose in every situation. As a Richmond institution, we cannot sit idly by when things like this happen.”
The International Mission Board has been based in Richmond since the board’s founding in 1845. The IMB is the missionary-sending arm of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention. The board employs more than 450 people locally and supports more than 4,500 missionaries in all regions of the world.

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  • Louis Moore