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Miss. event to focus on racial unity

NASHVILLE (BP) — God’s church must take the lead in achieving racial unity as the United States deals with a deepening crisis of racially polarizing events, Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd has said in advance of a Nov. 4 racial reconciliation celebration in Jackson, Miss.

Floyd will join Jerry Young, president of the predominantly black National Baptist Convention USA, as a speaker at “A National Conversation on Race in America,” Mission Mississippi’s annual racial reconciliation celebration at the Jackson Convention Complex.

Opening with an 8:30 a.m. “Gracism Summit,” a conversation on racial reconciliation among 20 invited pastors, the event is designed not to rehash the past, but to discover practical ways to help achieve racial unity in the nation, Floyd has told Southern Baptist pastors participating.

“Dr. Young and I are each asking 10 local church pastors from across America in our respective conventions to join us in this national conversation on racial unity,” Floyd has said regarding the event. “We are thankful for every leader or group who is attempting to address this national crisis. Yet, we believe local church pastors and churches can bring a unique perspective on the racial crisis; and in reality, we need to lead the way toward addressing and resolving this crisis.”

The event is an annual outreach of Mission Mississippi, a nonprofit ministry that states as its mission a desire “to encourage and demonstrate grace in the Body of Christ across racial lines, so that communities throughout Mississippi can see practical evidence of the Gospel message.”

Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, has worked since his election to open doors to racial reconciliation.

“When I was elected president, I began praying for open doors. Through prayer gatherings, I began to see God bring down the walls that divide races and ethnicities,” Floyd said in an Oct. 19 blogpost. “Then, sadly through the tragedies of Ferguson and other cities in our nation, the burden and conviction became overwhelming.”

Southern Baptist pastors slated to participate in the Jackson summit are:

— Marshall Blalock, senior pastor, First Baptist Church Charleston, Charleston, S.C.

— Felix Cabrera, director of Red 1:8 Church Planting Network, lead pastor, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City, Okla., and

— Timmy Chavis, chairman, Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council of the SBC, senior pastor, Bear Swamp Baptist Church, Pembroke, N.C.

— Steve Gaines, senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.

— Gene Henderson, Mississippi Baptist pastor and leader, Pinelake Church, Brandon, Miss.

— Paul Kim, Asian American relations consultant for the SBC, pastor emeritus, Antioch Baptist Church, Cambridge, Mass.

— Ed Litton, Redemption Church, North Mobile, Ala.

— Ted Traylor, senior pastor, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla.

— A.B. Vines, former president, National African American Fellowship of the SBC, senior pastor, New Seasons Church, Spring Valley, Calif.

— K. Marshall Williams, president, National African American Fellowship of the SBC, senior pastor, Nazarene Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pa.

Floyd and Young both spoke at an Aug. 25th event at First Baptist Church in Jackson honoring the witness of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., where a gunman killed the pastor and eight others at an evening Bible study June 17. Racial reconciliation was also a topic of prayer at the 2015 SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on the eve of the Charleston shooting.

Registration information is available at missionmississippi.net.