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Georgia church expelled from Southern Baptist Convention over racial discrimination charges

Southern Baptist Convention headquarters
This Dec. 7, 2011 file photo shows the headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn. The Southern Baptists lost more than 200,000 members in 2015. It's the ninth straight year of decline for the nation's largest Protestant denomination, which also saw baptisms drop by more than 10,000 in 2015. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

DALLAS (USA Today) — A Georgia church was expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention on Monday over charges of racism.

The convention’s executive committee voted to withdraw fellowship from Raleigh White Baptist Church during its morning meeting in Dallas, said Roger S. Oldham, the committee’s spokesman.


RELATED: Patterson won’t address meeting as Southern Baptists gather amid scandals


The 80-plus member body, which acts on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention when it is not in session, followed the recommendation of its officers and severed the evangelical denomination’s relationship with the church for “clear evidence of the church’s intentional discriminatory acts.”

The small white congregation in Albany, Ga., has been accused of discriminating against a growing black congregation that shared its church building. Raleigh White Baptist did not respond Monday to the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee’s request for comment.

The executive committee made its decision ahead of the Southern Baptist Convention’s big denominational meeting that starts Tuesday at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The Georgia church’s status is only one of several matters expected to be addressed this week.

As a result, representatives from Raleigh White Baptist can no longer participate in the convention until it repents and takes steps to restore fellowship.

The national entity’s decision is just the latest action against the church.

In Georgia, the Mallary Baptist Association, which includes more than 50 churches in Southwest Georgia, was the first to expel Raleigh White Baptist over their actions toward New Seasons Church.

“The reason for this action involved the church’s un-Christian attitudes and acts toward another associational church. These attitudes and acts were racially-motivated,” the association said in an April 4 statement. “Thus they do not reflect the values and mission of the Mallary Baptist Association.”

For about six months, Hans Wunch, director of missions for the Mallary Baptist Association, had tried to help mediate the relationship between Raleigh White and New Seasons. He brought in members of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board for assistance, too.

In June 2015, the declining white congregation initially welcomed New Seasons Church, a growing church plant led by Pastor Marcus Glass, to worship in its building, according to the Christian Index, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s newspaper.

But the relationship between the two congregations deteriorated as Raleigh White Baptist became less accommodating to those who belonged to New Seasons.

It all came to a head on March 18.

Raleigh White Baptist scheduled its homecoming event at the church during New Seasons’ worship time, according to the Christian Index. Unaware of the time change, black visitors showed up at New Season’s for worship at the regular time. They were told to wait in their vehicles and one visitor’s daughter was told to use the convenience store bathroom down the road.

“It was because of the color of their skin that they were turned away at the door,” Wunch said. “That was kind of the final straw.”

During an April 3 special meeting, the executive committee of the association voted unanimously to remove the church as a member and return Raleigh White Baptist’s 2018 financial donations to the association.

“We kept trying to say, ‘No, this isn’t racism. This is something else,'” Wunch said. “We desperately wanted it to be bad communication, but when all that went down, it’s like, we can’t ignore this.”

Raleigh White Baptist can be reinstated as a member of the association if they repent their sins against News Seasons and allow a mediator to help both churches biblically reconcile their relationship.

“We have not heard anything from them about that,” Wunch said. “We have no indication that they have any desire to do that.”

The Monday decision by the Southern Baptist Convention is the outcome Wunch wanted to see.

Last week, Wunch pointed out that it could be a significant decision given the Southern Baptist Convention’s pro-slavery roots and more recent racial reconciliation efforts.

“This is an extraordinary moment because the Southern Baptist Convention has talked about trying to heal race relations for quite some time, but this is tangible,” Wunch said.

New Seasons has since found a new home by merging with another church in the association that was drawing only about 15 people to Sunday services, Wunch said.

Another church in Albany had reached out to Wunch independent of the break-up between Raleigh White and New Seasons for advice on how to reach their neighborhood, which has been changing around them.

The association helped connect them. In late May, New Seasons announced it had merged with Radium Springs Baptist Church to create one multicultural congregation, according to a Facebook post.

“It’s been really neat how God worked all that out,” Wunch said.

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Holly Meyer

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  • Raleigh White Baptist Church – church.org

    rated 5/5 for “Family Friendly” and “Sense of Community”

    (0 reviews)

    I’m not sure that a default position of perfection is truly Biblical is it?

    If so – there are no reviews on me either!
    – – – – – – –

    Can someone explain to a potentially horrified Brit – Does the “White” in “Raleigh White Baptist Church” mean that non-whites are excluded or is it a locational/whatever descriptor?
    – – – – – – –

    As to ““It’s been really neat how God worked all that out,” Wunch said.” –

    If his God can put its followers through that its not exactly a god that should be admired or respected for its empathy and love is it?

  • Re: “Raleigh White Baptist Church” 

    Somehow I don’t think the “White” in this church’s name is because its founder had that as a last name. Given that, I must say I”m impressed* with the rather blatant racism there. 

    *Not!

  • The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., once said “it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” In some places that is apparently still the case. Sad.

  • If the Southern Baptist Convention is trying to purge its racists, they’ll be able to hold their next conference at a Waffle House.

  • As soon as Trump Makes America White Again, white Christian folks won’t have to put up with this kind of blatant persecution.

  • I used to live in a very small rural town outside of Atlanta. Two churches exist right across the street from one another. The blacks attend one church; while white folk attend the other. Everyone is happy. There is also a Waffle House and a Huddle House less than a 1/4 mile from one another. The waffle house is patronized by mostly black folk. The huddle house — white folk. Everyone is happy.

    Muhammed Ali — “Blue birds fly with blue birds, red birds want to be with red birds — tell me when I’m wrong — pigeons want to be with pigeons”

  • I’m just reporting on my experience.
    I have a hard time believing this story. More fake news. Just like all the alleged ‘hate crimes’ that end up being hoaxes.

  • 5 years ago or so I had to renew my DL outside of Atlanta. The waiting room at the DMV had 3 sections of chairs divided by an aisle. 3 sections; 2 aisles. In one section sat mostly m.exicans. In the other section sat mostly negroes. In the last section sat mostly white people. The only exceptions were an asian woman sitting in the white section.

  • I’m picturing the behind the scenes conversation between the Southern Baptist Convention and Raleigh White Baptist. “Sorry about this, boys. Y’all know we’re really with you, but after that Patterson thing, we’re gittin’ a lot of heat. Gotta throw them Yankees a bone…”

  • I think a better choice would be the one Christ Himself would make, Bob… (You sure around on these sites,don’t you Bob? ) 😊😊😊

  • And your proof that this is “fake news” is what, exactly, Roy Hobs? As an African-American born in the ’50’s in the blatantly racist state of Mississippi, I have NO TROUBLE believing this story AT ALL…😎😎😎

  • Hmm…That’s the best you can do, Roy Hobs? That says a lot about you, my friend. So, think what you will,as will I.God Bless…😎😎😎

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