FBC Macon

Nurture. Love. Serve. ALL.

We’re proud of our Baptist history and heritage, but we’re also proud of our diversity. At First Baptist you will find a group of people coming from a variety of different church backgrounds and denominations who have found a home at the “top of Poplar.” And while our congregation comes from all over middle Georgia, we are a downtown church and see it is our mission to be the presence of Christ to our InTown and College Hill communities here in Macon.

And You Will Know the Truth

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

John 8:31-32

 

Trust your wound to a teacher's surgery.

Flies collect on a wound. They cover it,

those flies of your self-protecting feelings,

your love for what you think is yours.

 

Let a Teacher wave away the flies

and put a plaster on the wound.

 

Don't turn your head. Keep looking

at the bandaged place. That's where

the Light enters you.

 

And don't believe for a moment

that you're healing yourself.

Rumi

 

I offer these two passages as context for this follow up from the sermon on Sunday.

Sunday's sermon was uncomfortable. At least, it was uncomfortable for me, and several of you have told me that it made you uncomfortable as well. In it I revealed the findings of some research that Doug Thompson has done to look back into our history and examine, specifically, our church’s relationship with the institution of slavery. (If you’d like to read the manuscript or listen to the audio, click here.)

As best we can tell, it appears that five of our six founding families (counting an early trustee) were slaveowners, each owning from 1 to 12 enslaved people. We’re still looking into this, but it also appears at least possible that our sanctuary on 2nd Street, at the time said to be the finest house of worship in the city, may have been financed through the sale of 20 enslaved people by one of our prominent families. The same prominent family, we learned, that deeded the property on Plum St. that would become the site of the worship space for the black members of the congregation. Which means, given what we know about our congregation at the time—that it included both slaveowners and their slaves—our old church building may have been financed through the sale of some of our own members. 

 

Of course, even if this weren’t the case, it remains clear that much of the tithes and offerings given to support the ministry of this church was “acquired” through the work and ownership of enslaved people. 

And as I said Sunday, I don’t mean to be naive here. I think we all know, intellectually at least, that every institution in the South that dates to that period was in some way enriched or otherwise connected to the institution of slavery. But it’s nonetheless jarring to see it plain on paper (If you’d like to follow along with Doug through his research, read his blog here.) 

And yet it is also true that those of us who are white do not like to think too deeply about what this history means, or what it has to do with us. Just as we do not like to think too deeply about the greater history of racial violence in our country, and how the wider church has, at best, stood idly by and, at worst, actively endorsed it.

This is hard, discomforting news. And yet it is the truth.

As I wrote last week, I hope we would examine whatever need we may feel to “defend how it was.” Let us instead be so committed to the truth of the good news of God’s love that we don’t need to defend the indefensible; to remember that we are called to a greater story.

Let us simply stand before the truth, and confess.

The question then becomes, what do we do with this truth? And this is a good question, to which I do not yet have an answer. In fact, part of why I brought this before you is because I am hoping that we might discern these things together.

What would it mean to “confess” this history we have inherited, and to whom would we confess?

What would repentance look like, and even more, reconciliation?

And on another level, what might we as a church being doing or not doing today that might be similarly inconceivable to future generations?

There is much to consider. But I truly believe what I said at the end of the sermon yesterday, which is that this is why we need the gospel. 

I’m not sure there is another way of approaching or dealing with this kind of hard truth than through the story of our faith—the story of confession, repentance and reconciliation into which we are invited. 

How we do this must be, and always is, revealed by the Holy Spirit. But we must have ears to ear, and eyes to see. Again, in the words of Rumi:

Don't turn your head. Keep looking

at the bandaged place. That's where

the Light enters you.

 

As we make our way to the cross over the next weeks, my prayer is that this will be revealed as true. That gospel Light will enter us, but even more, that it will shine through us. And that the truth of this Light will set us free.

SHD

WEEKLY SERVICES

Sunday
Sunday School at 9:45am
Morning Worship at 11:00am

Wednesday Evening
We begin with a meal at 5:30pm. Music and missions activities are available for adults, youth, and kids. Learn More

 

CONTACT US

511 High Place
Macon, GA 31201
Directions to FBCX

Telephone: 1.478.742.6485

Email: office@fbcxmacon.org


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