SAN ANTONIO—Power-sharing in churches—particularly across lines of culture, language and race—only occurs within “the realm of God’s grace,” Albert Reyes, president of Buckner International, told a crowd at Baptist University of the Américas.
Reyes recounted childhood memories with white and black friends and his sadness at looking across so many congregations of one race and culture.
“We can’t be who we say we are and look at others in ways that diminish their humanity,” said Reyes, former BUA president.
Voluntarily sharing power
“The biblical model of ethnic relations in (the New Testament book of) Acts was when the group in power—the Hebrew-speaking believers—voluntarily shared power, control and resources with those who didn’t have them—the Greek-speaking believers.”
Reyes spoke on “The Jesus Agenda and the Samaritan Factor: Incarnational Race Relations” as part of BUA’s inaugural T.B. Maston Symposium. The symposium honors the legacy of the pioneering professor of Christian ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Reyes also joined a panel discussion along with other symposium speakers—ethicist Bill Tillman, director of theological education for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and Kathryn Freeman, public policy director for Texas Baptists’ Christian Life Commission.
Tillman issued a wakeup call to churches. He particularly called on Christians to recognize racism in American society and courageously identify what it is doing to whom.
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Before Texas Baptists can hope to achieve racial reconciliation, they need to get to know people of other races and cultures, Freeman said.
“How can we be reconciled if we don’t know one another?” she asked.
Invoking Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, she challenged Christians to move out of their comfort zones and work to “make sure that people stop being beaten up on the Jericho Road, and not just complain because they had to travel that road.”