A Georgia church has been expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention after claims of racism were reported. Fellowship was withdrawn from Raleigh White Baptist Church after an 80-plus member body decided to follow the recommendation of its officers.
The decision was made because of “clear evidence of the church’s intentional discriminatory acts.”
Located in Albany, Georgia, the church has been accused of discriminating against a growing black congregation that shared its church building.
The decision to remove the church from its charter occurred just ahead of the Southern Baptist Convention’s big denominational meeting that starts Tuesday.
The Raleigh White Baptist church can return to the convention if it shows a genuine attempt to repent and follows restoration steps put in place by leaders from the convention.
This isn’t the first expulsion for the church, the Mallary Baptist Association which includes more than 50 churches among its members, also expelled Raleigh White Baptist.
“The reason for this action involved the church’s un-Christian attitudes and acts toward another associational church. These attitudes and acts were racially-motivated,” the association said in April. “Thus they do not reflect the values and mission of the Mallary Baptist Association.”
The white congregation welcomed New Seasons Church to its building in June 2015. The church was experiencing a decline in followers, and at first, welcomed New Seasons.
On March 18, Raleigh White Baptist scheduled a homecoming event during New Seasons’ worship time but failed to notify its black members. When a member of New Season’s asked to take their daughter to the bathroom, they were told to use the convenience store down the road.
The churches leaders say they were not being racist but rather engaged in “poor communication” with the members of New Seasons.
Reinstatement will involve repentance and meetings with a mediator.
Observers note that the Southern Baptist Convention has a long history of pro-slavery roots. They believe the move could be an attempt to repair the church’s image.
In the meantime, New Seasons has since moved on, merging with another church that was only drawing in around 15 people for Sunday services. In a fitting move, the merger helped create a multicultural congregation.