2022: Birmingham, Alabama

Our commission met July 10-15, 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama, to consider the topic of racial justice as part of the BWA annual gathering. Commission vice-chair Dinorah Mendez led the sessions, with chair Melody Maxwell joining via Zoom.

Tuesday, July 12, 11 AM-12:30 PM

Commission member Leonard Glasgow opened the session with a devotion on the Good Samaritan.

Dr. Andrew Manis, Emeritus Professor of History at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia USA, was the main speaker. He presented a paper on “Birmingham Baptists Meet the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.” This paper contrasted the roles of white and black Baptists in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham between 1953-1964. This paper was followed by a question-and-answer time.

Read Dr. Manis’s paper here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2-4 PM

Commission member Stefana Dan Laing began the meeting with a devotion on the “Ruth 2 man” and the importance of doing justice and showing kindness.

Catherine Allen, former president of BWA Women, was the main speaker. She presented a paper on “Baptist World Alliance Women and Racism,” gleaning from her extensive research and personal acquaintance concerning women who have led courageously in racial reconciliation through the Baptist World Alliance. This paper was followed by a question-and-answer time.

Read Catherine Allen’s paper here.

The commission then held a business session. Members reported on our two priority projects: writing historical profiles for Baptist conventions/unions and writing materials about Baptist identity. We also discussed the 500th anniversary of Anabaptism in 2025, a possible historical presence at the Baptist World Congress in 2025, and possible speakers for the 2023 annual gathering.

Wednesday, July 13, 4:30-6 PM

Commission member Stephen Stookey opened the session with a devotion on James 1:22 and the importance of responding to what we have heard this week.

Dr. Sandy Martin was the featured speaker for the session. Dr. Martin is Professor and former Department Head of Religion at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA. He presented a paper on “The Universal and the Particular: Race, Religion, and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.” This paper examined some key concepts and methods from the public ministry of King for their insights and relevance for contemporary efforts to secure racial justice, domestically and globally. This paper was followed by a question-and-answer time.

Read Dr. Martin’s paper here.

Civil Rights Tour

On the afternoon of Friday, July 15, commission members hosted an optional post-tour. Stefana Laing and Rick McClatchy helped lead the tour, with approximately 40 participants. The group visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which was bombed during the civil rights struggle in Birmingham.