A Personal Journey to the New Baptist Covenant

Does the New Baptist Covenant represent the dawning of a new day of unity in Baptist life? Discuss the ongoing Covenant meetings here.

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A Personal Journey to the New Baptist Covenant

Postby Mark » Thu Feb 07, 2008 6:08 pm

(Preface: From BL.Com, it was a joy to see Bruce and Rob, and to meet Tim Bonney for the first time. My trip was quick and brief, so I regret not seeing the others who were there, and was especially chagrined to have missed a rare chance to hear James Forbes. Looked for BDiddy in the press room but alas... Maybe next time. I did finally have a few minutes to jot down a few thoughts, below.)

For most of my life, like so many other southerners not born to great wealth, I had always chosen to believe that our family tree was commendably non-inhabited by any slave-owning ancestors. This delusion was shattered a couple of years ago, amidst my newfound interest in researching our family’s genealogy in greater depth than had been previously known. But there it was, in stark black and white. Several African-Americans, first names only, were listed alongside ancestors in various census reports from the early 1800s. These were unmistakable references to human property. I gleaned little comfort by the rationalization that few, if any, families claiming seven or eight generations of Alabama citizens would emerge unstained by our nation’s racial history.

All of that to say: It became deeply personal and important that I be present for at least a portion of the historic New Baptist Covenant in Atlanta. At first, before enough hurdles were cleared to attend the final evening session, it looked as if work and other hindrances would preclude my being there at all. But I was haunted by promotional proclamations declaring this event to be an opportunity, at long last, for whites and blacks to literally fulfill a portion of Martin Luther King’s dream. Both the “descendants of slaves and slave owners” would gather atop red clay hills of Georgia for fellowship and inspiration.

Thus any remaining frustration of earlier hardships in getting to Atlanta quickly faded by Friday evening. The music alone was superb, with styles ranging from a men’s chorus of Morehouse College, to the Mercer University children’s choir, to a saxophone rendition of “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.” Many participants would likely agree that neither the late, great E.V. Hill nor the legendary R.G. Lee himself could have outpreached the alliteration-filled sermon delivered by venerable Detroit pastor Charles G. Adams, who has served the same congregation since 1969.

It was also a joy to see and hear former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn receive long-deserved accolades for their steadfast commitment to reconciliation between various peoples of the world, not the least of which being the diverse host of Baptist groups gathered that week. Equally praiseworthy was to observe a quite humbled former President Bill Clinton steer clear of any hint of politics, even as he acknowledged that all of us - including moderate Baptists – will forever “see through a glass darkly” as long as we inhabit this earth.

Most memorable was the mere sight of Baptist Christians from every race and status in life, worshipping alongside each other in celebration of the freedom that all of us have in Jesus. May the Spirit which binds us together now keep us mindful of that fragile unity.
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