We were having an internal conversation with the SBCVoices editorial group and someone brought up the fact that every nominee for every SBC office this year was a white guy. Again. I had not thought about it, honestly, because I was not paying close attention this year and I have been pretty overwhelmed with other things. But, when that was said, I realized that, if we aren’t careful, we will be headed back to the same place that we have been before. Again. Now, they are all great candidates and I am glad that they are all running and they would all probably do a great job. None of this is a criticism of who IS running. I just want to see the day when people from all backgrounds are put forward for leadership. In a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically divided America, the more diverse that our leadership is, the better that we will be able to give witness to the reconciling power of the gospel in our midst as Jesus takes us from many backgrounds and makes us all one in Him.
After Fred Luter won the SBC presidency in 2012, there were tears and great joy that perhaps we had turned a corner on this issue. And, I think we did – at least when it came to awareness of the need to BE a different kind of people and make sure that our leadership was as diverse as our churches. Dr. Paul Kim had put forward a motion at the Orlando convention a couple of years before asking for more ethnic diversity in convention leadership. Promises and plans were made that later went largely unfulfilled, but the election of Rev. Luter seemed to signify a change. In 2014 in Baltimore, some of us got behind the nomination of Dr. Dennis Kim for the presidency. We were not running against Ronnie Floyd, per se, but we believed that Dr. Kim’s life and ministry would open doors for the SBC that needed to be opened. A virtual unknown by rank and file SBCers, with Dwight McKissic giving the nomination speech, Dr. Kim won 41% of the vote. This surprised many, but we thought it was a great sign. At the same convention, I brought a motion asking for a study to be done to investigate where we stood on bringing ethnic and racial minority leadership onto our trustee boards and into the leadership of convention entities. A report came from the Executive Committee in 2015 detailing the progress that we had made over the past 20 years since our resolution of repentance over racism and slavery in 1995 – but it also demonstrated that in many ways, we had not made much progress at all. The report and the recommendations were adopted by the SBC last year.
While I am very glad that Dr. Floyd has made ethnic/racial diversity and reconciliation a hallmark of his leadership and appointments to the committees that he has authority over (he has done a great job on this, by the way), I hope that we will continue to see believers from all different backgrounds take part in SBC life and leadership. Actually, my prayer is that pastors and leaders from all ethnic and racial backgrounds will feel the liberty and call to step forward and put themselves in a position to lead and to serve the SBC on a national level. This needs to happen and we don’t need to forget about it.
As of now, all of the candidates for national SBC officer are white.
As of now, all of our entity heads are white.
As of now, the vast, vast majority of all of our trustees of our entities are white.
I continue to pray that this changes. I know it takes time, but “how long?” How long will we keep saying, “this takes time”? As for me, I’ll keep saying something about this and some will keep dismissing it. I know. I get it. Here I go again. The response to this request from some will be, “Well, perhaps God wasn’t leading anyone who wasn’t white to run?” Or, “We don’t want quotas, do we?” Or, “Are we not going to be happy until we have people from different races in all of the leadership positions?” Look, you can dismiss this if you want. Like I said, I wasn’t really paying attention and it wasn’t until someone brought it up that I became aware of this primarily because I am NOT trying to just artificially force something through. But, until we have a situation where we see as natural the participation of ethnic and racial minorities putting themselves forward for leadership roles and that action being affirmed on a regular basis, I think that we should all be praying and asking that this change.
I have no idea who might step up for nomination for leadership. There is still time. But, if this post can be seen as an invitation for qualified leaders from diverse backgrounds to step forward and be nominated for national leadership – just to run even if they don’t win, so we at least have a choice and can hear from them – then I will be glad and I think that the SBC will be better for it.