ERICKSON: Let God’s people go

February 14, 2014 

A group of white folks are trying to bankrupt a black church in town. This is a church that does what Christ commands -- “Go forth.” The church is a helping hand to its community. But a group of overbearing white people wants the church to go bankrupt.

It is, more likely than not, out of a sense of white guilt, but there are other reasons, too. The original church building played a small role in history and some white folks just cannot let go of any history. They -- mostly progressives -- want to set aside the shackles of old morals, values and teachings while preserving all the physical aspects of the old to preserve their clear conscience.

They have had no use for the history. They did not take their children to the church. They did not join the membership of the church. The church itself is ready to let go of the history. The church went to the people instead of trying to draw people to its old building. The church did not make an idol of its building as these well-meaning white folks have done. The church keeps carrying out its mission while the white folks are so much more invested in an empty building than a mission.

Tremont Baptist Church left its old building. It was too costly to keep up. The congregation wanted to move into the community to keep sharing the Gospels and helping others. They were not tied to a physical building. They are tied to a Holy Spirit. They were happy to sell the building, be rid of the burden, and free up funds to serve others.

But then a group of white folks decided to stick their nose in the church’s business. The white folks who had never really done anything with the church, had never really extended a helping hand to the church, and had never really built up the history of the church or told the church’s story decided the church could not sell its building.

In fact, the white folks decided that their historic priorities were greater than the priorities of a black congregation trying to reinsert itself into the black community and lift others up with the Holy Spirit. The Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission decided to involve itself in contract negotiations between the church and a private entity. Along came Historic Macon to save another crumbling edifice that it preferred to stay crumbling and vacant rather than be removed and rebuilt as something newer and more productive.

Sure, there was a private contract involved, but who cares about private contracts when white liberals get a chance to feel good about themselves? They might not have marched with Dr. King, but they sure can tell their grandchildren how they bankrupted a black congregation in order to preserve a church building that played a small role in the local civil rights movement before they were born.

The church, which tried to sell the building, needed approval for demolition. The Planning and Zoning Commission, outside its proper role, decided it preferred the building not be demolished. The church cannot proceed with its sale if the building cannot be demolished. The church now has credible documentation that it would cost about $623,000 to stabilize the building. It is “in danger of imminent collapse,” according to the structural engineer. The church cannot afford the costs.

Planning and Zoning will now reconsider the matter. Commissioners Sarah Gerwig-Moore and Jeane Easom were opposed to reconsideration. If the commission will not let God’s people go, they should personally foot the bill to save the church.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.

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