Church apologizes for banning black community 45 years ago - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Church apologizes for banning black community 45 years ago

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(WMC-TV) - Forty-five years ago, the congregation at First Baptist Church in Oxford, MS, banned black members. The church is now apologizing in hopes of sparking racial reconciliation in a community with a long history of segregation.

When First Baptist Church leaders suggested an open door policy to allow blacks to worship alongside whites in 1968, the congregation said 'no'.

Pastors Eric Hankings learned his church and the primarily black Second Baptist Church had lingering racial tensions.

But this summer, Hankings' congregation did something unexpected. They voted to apologize for the decision made four decades ago, asking for forgiveness with a written resolution.

"We needed to take public and official action to undo something that we had done publicly and officially," said Pastor Hankings.

Both church leaders believe that race relations are critical to our nation's success. They hope this simple act will foster change and bring unity not only among Oxford Baptists, but the entire community.

"This was an act of humility that I, and many other black communities had not seen," said Second Baptist Church Pastor Andrew Robinson. "We've got to be real enough to say, 'Hey, the only way we're going to get beyond this barrier is we've got to forgive. You can never move forward if there's no true forgiveness.'"

Both churches are already looking for ways to come together like trading choirs and pastors.

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