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This church was racist, Southern Baptists say: 'Some things … shouldn't be tolerated.'

The racially mixed New Seasons Church of Albany, Ga., moved to a different location after getting the cold shoulder from an older, white church that had hosted them.
The racially mixed New Seasons Church of Albany, Ga., moved to a different location after getting the cold shoulder from an older, white church that had hosted them. Courtesy the Rev. Marcus Glass

A Georgia church has been judged too racist for the Southern Baptist Convention, and what's amazing is that nobody seems surprised.

In a convention roiled over the abuse of women in the church and over whether Vice President Mike Pence's visit is friendly or frightful, the SBC executive committee caused barely a ripple with the announcement that Raleigh White Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., did not "oppose racism" and must seek repentance.

Mind you, it took until 1995 for Southern Baptists to apologize for the whole slavery and segregation thing. Last year, it took two days of bickering for the SBC to come out against white supremacy and the political alt-right.

But this time, the SBC moved quickly and surely to disfellowship a mostly older, white church that first allowed a younger, mixed-race congregation to share their building, then turned hostile.

Over a two-year stay, the growing New Seasons Church was gradually discouraged from sharing the gym, classrooms or fellowship hall, a regional Baptist association found.

When some had to wait during an extended Raleigh White service, New Seasons worshipers were told to remain in their cars.

A little girl asking to use the restroom was sent to a convenience store down the road.

"We weren't allowed to come into the building when other people were being allowed in," said the Rev. Marcus Glass, a pastor and Albany firefighter sent from Mississippi to "plant" a new church for Georgia Baptists with help from San Diego-area pastor A.B. Vines Sr.

(It is not coincidental that Vines was elected Tuesday as SBC first vice-president.)

In January 2017, some Raleigh White members were not happy that the church and New Seasons co-hosted a storm relief center after South Georgia tornadoes killed 15.

The regional Mallary Baptist Association found "un-Christian attitudes and acts."

"We were just not allowed to fellowship or come into worship with them in any way," Glass said.

"Some things we've experienced shouldn't be tolerated … With this vote, the Southern Baptist Convention has shown that anything that is not biblical will not be tolerated."

Vines was not available for comment after his election Tuesday.

A 13-year pastor who built his California church from 67 members to 1,800, Vines told the Georgia-based Christian Index this is the first time the SBC has disfellowshipped a church over racism.

"We have preached about it, have talked about it, passed resolutions about it — but this is the first time we have actually taken action about it," Vines was quoted.

The SBC executive committee wrote specifically that it found "clear evidence of … discriminatory acts toward individuals based solely on the color of their skin," violating the statement of faith that Christians should "oppose racism."

In another positive step, the SBC also passed a resolution disavowing the biblical "Curse of Ham" (Genesis 9-10) as a premise for teaching racism, racial supremacy or discrimination against anyone with darker skin.

A 2013 study by a Southern Methodist University professor found that private schools and even some public school Bible classes, including in the Parker County town of Peaster, were teaching the premise behind the "Curse of Ham."

In yet another floor vote, the SBC gave Cuero, Texas, pastor Grady Arnold the quick brush-off when he tried to reintroduce a failed resolution that called social justice and racial justice Marxist and "evil."

"Look, I know we're moving past some people's comfort zone now," Glass, the Georgia pastor, said.

"But God is challenging us to believe his word and cross the line of faith. We have to believe that we are all one in Christ and open ourselves and our doors up, so we don't continue to have dwindling churches."

It also takes open hearts.

Bud Kennedy, 817-390-7538; @BudKennedy

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