The Southern Baptist Convention has suspended an all-white denomination in Georgia amid allegations of racism toward Black churchgoers earlier this year.
The Raleigh White Baptist Church in Albany was given its walking papers Monday, June 11, after the SBC executive committee voted to withdraw fellowship over “… clear evidence of the church’s intentional discriminatory acts,” according to The Tenneseean. The church had been sharing its building with a growing Black congregation for the past six months due to declining membership dating back to 2015.
Raleigh White initially welcomed New Seasons Church, led by pastor Mark Glass, with open arms but the relationship between the two denominations quickly deteriorated. Tensions hit a fever pitch March 18 when the all-white church scheduled an event for the same time as New Seasons’ worship service. Unaware of the schedule change, Black parishioners showed up but were turned away at the door and told to wait in their cars, the report revealed.
A visitor’s daughter was even told to use the restroom at a convenience store down the road when her family showed up for service.
” … It was because of the color of their skin that they were turned away at the door,” said Hans Wunch, director of missions for the Mallary Baptist Association. “That was kind of the final straw.”
“We kept trying to say, ‘No, this isn’t racism. This is something else,'” Wunch added. “We desperately wanted it to be bad communication, but when all that went down, it’s like, we can’t ignore this.”
The Georgia-based association served as a mediator between two denominations when their relationship began to fall apart, The Tennessean reported. Mallary Baptist would be the first to boot White Raleigh over its treatment of New Seasons, however.
“The reason for this action involved the church’s un-Christian attitudes and acts toward another associational church,” the association wrote in an April 4 statement. “These attitudes and acts were racially-motivated. Thus they do not reflect the values and mission of the Mallary Baptist Association.”
The Southern Baptist Convention has since followed suit, barring the all-white church from participating in the convention “until it repents and takes steps to restore fellowship.” The decision comes ahead of the association’s yearly denomination convention, which kicks off Tuesday, June 12.