Why Black Pastors Still Stay Southern Baptist

Even with disputes over Trump and critical race theory pushing some minority leaders out, others stand by the missional advantage in the country’s largest Protestant body.

Fred Luter has been a Southern Baptist for 35 years. But the last four years “have been some of the most difficult times” to be black in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), he said, as white pastors appeared to support President Donald Trump uncritically despite character flaws for which they “would have crucified” President Barack Obama.

Noticing the disparity, members of the predominantly black New Orleans congregation Luter pastors told him they’re “almost embarrassed” to be Southern Baptist. They even asked to leave the SBC.

But Luter, the first African American SBC president, hasn’t wavered in his support for the convention.

“We’re not in this convention because of who the president of the United States is,” Luter said. “We’re in this convention because of our commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.”

Luter shared his story as part of a YouTube series titled Why I Stay, featuring testimonies from leaders of color who have remained in white evangelical circles—including the SBC—despite mounting pressure to leave. The series is hosted by Dhati Lewis, a North American Mission Board (NAMB) vice president who is among the highest-ranking black employees at any SBC entity.

“We have to be as loud as the detractors in letting people know all the positive that’s going on in the denomination” for black and brown Christians, Lewis said.

That positive message increasingly has been needed as high-profile black departures from the SBC spur Southern Baptists of color to question their own involvement in the convention. Thus far, most minority churches have stayed in the SBC. Black and brown Christians …

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