Christians Are Called to Be 'Salt and Light' on Racial Reconciliation, NBC Leader Says

(Photo: Reuters/John Gress)Parishioners worship at a predominantly African-American church in this file photo.

A historically African-American denomination whose president recently took part in a summit on racial unity hopes the event will be a beginning to many conversations on reconciliation.

The National Baptist Convention, USA took part in a summit on racial reconciliation last week in Mississippi alongside the Southern Baptist Convention.

Jerlen Young-Nelson, spokeswoman for NBC USA, told The Christian Post that the summit sponsored by Mission Mississippi "was eye opening, powerful and informative."

"The pastors on the panel presented their personal truths and struggles with racism. They outlined how racism affects the church and community," said Young-Nelson.

"[They also] suggested ways that the two conventions could continue to collaborate on projects that would bring about a lasting change."

(Photo: Nathan Alber)Ronnie Floyd (L), president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Jerry Young (R), president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, at a summit on racial unity in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday, November, 4, 2015.

Young-Nelson also told CP that the Jackson, Mississippi, event was by no means a conclusion to the efforts at racial unity, but rather a beginning.

"We were reminded that the church was called to be 'the salt and light of the world,'" said Young-Nelson, referring to Matthew, Chapter 5, verses 13-16.

"The summit was the first of many conversations to be had on the topic. And helped to shed light on a serious problem that must be addressed from a biblical perspective."

Last week NBC USA President Jerry Young and SBC President Ronnie Floyd were featured speakers at an event on race relations sponsored by Mission Mississippi.

The collaboration was significant given that NBC USA is a predominately African-American denomination and the SBC was originally founded by pro-slavery white Southerners.

In an earlier interview with CP, Floyd spoke of also being involved alongside Young with an event titled "A National Conversation on Racial Unity."

"We both agreed to ask 10 pastors from each of our respective conventions to join us. We also agreed upon the content we wanted to discuss and together navigated through this conversation with these 20 pastors," said Floyd.

"We determined to let others view the conversation and take some of their questions. I thought there would be maybe 50 people. I was informed we had around 400 people."

As with others including Floyd of the SBC, Young-Nelson told CP that there was an aura of optimism following the summit, noting that "we as participants were encouraged" by the pastors repeatedly denouncing racism.

"Change must begin with the leadership of the church, pastors, and trickle down to the membership and ultimately spill over into the community," said Young-Nelson.

"The emotional testimonies, the hard core truth about society's view of race, and the reality of the split in the body of Christ in relations to race were addressed head on."