“Grant, you are about to get a phone call from Sing Oldham, the Executive Vice-President of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
“Grant…are you still there?”
Amidst the flashbacks of all my principal office visits (there were many), I manage to mutter “Well….this can’t be good.”
[Which reminds me - when did the vice-principal get stuck with the discipline? When I was growing up - if you got in trouble, you saw the Big Man or Woman as it were. Now days, the vice gets the duty of dealing with the problem kids. Is this along the same lines as doctors making their nurses give shots? I digress.]
Amidst all the info on our partnerships with McCarter, McEachron, Hope Street, the Bridge, and the reservation was this little gem of a sentence…
“We are economically diverse but we are NOT racially diverse.”
What we meant: We are not as racially diverse as we want to be.
What was interpreted: We are a baptist church in Topeka that only loves white people.
A phone call was made to the national SBC office.
National office states national position on race equality, pointing to the recent election of our first black Convention president, but says every church is autonomous.
National office calls state convention office to check on this rogue church in Topeka. Finds out that half of the state staff goes to church there.
State Director assures national office that Western Hills is in fact a welcoming church with a huge heart for the community and that this is just a case of someone (the lead pastor) not having a very good grasp on our common written language.
State Convention calls me.
I start rewriting sentence to read what we meant.
National office calls me.
Sing Oldham, the Vice President of Convention Relations, was the one who called and I think he was very relieved to know that we are human and not racists. In fact, we like all kinds of people and have a sense of humor. I offered to call and clear the thing up with whoever called it in.
This is how it reads now:
We are economically diverse. We have urban dwellers, suburbanites, and ranchers. We have Christ- followers for 50 years and atheists in the building. We are not as racially diverse as we desire to be and are praying for that to change soon. We have a strong but small core of top-shelf leaders. We have a large group of undeveloped leaders and another large group of new to faith/new to church potential leaders. It?s a crazy, fun place to do life.
There…that’s a little better.
Here is a link to the job posting if you are interested as well.