Since July I have had the privilege of serving as interim pastor of Olive Chapel Baptist Church, in Apex, NC. We received the following email last week inquiring about OCBC:
Our family has just moved to your area from Raleigh.
We are seeking a church home and have a few questions please:
*We know the Lord loves all of us, but we believe in honoring the Culture the Lord gave us, so we are seeking a traditionally ‘White’ church as opposed to Multi-cultural. Is your church White?
*Do you have a separate church service for children?
*Does your church have a softball team?
thanks in advance for replying…..
Words can hardly express how distressing the staff at Olive Chapel found the above email. The question about children’s church is not that bothersome while the question about the softball team induces a roll of the eyes. However, the first question, the one asking whether Olive Chapel is a White church (note that they capitalized “White”), pegs the outrage meter. At first we thought the email was a prank, but after a number of email exchanges it became clear that this family was serious.
Note the questions they didn’t ask. “Does your church believe the gospel?” “What are you doing to obey the Great Commission?” “What is your view of the Bible?” Rather, they wanted to know if there would be recreation for children and adults, and if they would be safe from having to worship with people of color.
Daniel “Booney” Joyner, a SEBTS grad and one of the ministers at Olive Chapel, wrote the following reply to the inquirer:
“The majority of our congregation is white, but we are not a ‘white’ church. The demographic of our area is going to make the majority of our congregation white, but we are not exclusive to one race, nor do we seek to honor one ‘culture’ above another. The purpose of the church is to honor King Jesus and to seek to reach all people, regardless of race or culture, with the saving truth of the gospel. Each week we take time during our service to learn of an unreached people group and to pray for them and consider our part in God’s mission to reach them. One of my goals as a pastor is to teach the Word of God to the people and get them to see the mission of our God to reach all people with the gospel and to join in on that mission, even if that means leaving our ‘culture’ and going to theirs. The scriptures make it clear that the people of God are not limited to one race or culture, that heaven is not limited to one race or culture, and therefore, neither should our churches. I hope this answers your question. If you have any other questions please let me know.”
You go, Booney. Southern Baptists, we still have our work cut out for us when it comes to the matter of race.