A Call to Action for our Common Humanity
Binkley Baptist Church
(February 15, 2021)
In 1959, at the beginning of the mid-twentieth century Civil Rights Movement, the founders of Binkley Baptist Church emphasized racial inclusion as one of this faith community’s main principles. Today, the congregation, ministers, staff, and friends of Binkley Baptist Church acknowledge that systemic racism and economic inequity continue to undergird the many crises our nation is facing. We see this in our healthcare, education, social services, and criminal justice systems, in our immigration policies, in the exploitation of nature, and in the struggle so many of our neighbors face to earn a living wage, to escape food insecurity, and to find safe and affordable housing. Moreover, we recognize that we as a society, both in faith and secular circles, have yet to adequately address and challenge the ongoing harm done by white supremacy. The impact of this failing can be witnessed locally, nationally, and internationally.
As Christians, we believe that to love all people is to strive for justice for all people. In Luke 4:18, Jesus defines his ministry as he speaks in his hometown synagogue:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has appointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Here we hear the echo of the prophet who, in Isaiah 58:12, speaks to the exiles in Babylon upon their return to Jerusalem, exhorting them to repair the breach in their society. Throughout the Bible (Gen. 18: 1-15, I Kings 17: 9-24, Luke 24: 13-35), people of faith are urged to offer welcome and hospitality to the stranger.
James Baldwin, whose voice was shaped by American Christianity as well as the Civil Rights and Gay Liberation Movements, made many devastating critiques of racism in the United States. Nevertheless, he held out hope that eventually white people would come to see their common humanity with black people. He wrote, “Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.”
We begin again now!
As a church, we commit to the following actions:
We will pay attention, speak up, and act.
- We will be a strong and visible voice for change, confronting racial inequities in our community, state, country, and world.
- We will show our conviction through banners along Fordham Boulevard, newspaper and other public media, vigils, social media, and beyond.
We will work with partner organizations to confront racism.
- We will connect with state and national organizations such as the Alliance of Baptists, the Poor People’s Campaign, and the NC Council of Churches.
- We will work closely with other religious and non-religious organizations in the Triangle Area like the Interfaith Council for Social Services, Orange County Justice United, NAACP- CHC, voting initiatives, the Orange County Bail Bond Justice Project, and in joint effort with individual organizations including our Humanitarian Crisis Community Group (many different organizations).
We will work across our church structure to be a truly Antiracist Church.
- We will examine our church documents, rituals, worship services, and practices for unintended discriminatory statements.
- We will link efforts across our church structures including Christian Formation (child, youth and adult), Music Ministry, Peace and Justice Action, Outreach, Earth Ministry, and others as appropriate.
- We recognize that racism is at the root of much of the hate and division in our society, from our justice system, to poverty, immigration, treatment of people who identify as LGBTQ+, and in our response to climate change. We seek as a congregation to counteract that racism with love and action.
In responding to Jesus’s call for us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22), we pray for grace and guidance as we reaffirm our commitment to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).