Welcome to the historic First Baptist Church of Memphis, serving Memphis & the Mid-South since 1839. You will find exciting ministries, mission opportunities, and vibrant worship.

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5:00pm Dinner
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200 East Parkway North, Memphis, TN 38112 ⋅ Office: 901.454.1131

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Royal Changes

On the evening of October 18, I went to a concert of Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, two of my favorite singer-songwriters.   Robert Earl Keen sang his song, “If I Were King There’d Be Some Changes Made.” Keen’s song is more or less a love song, stating what he’d change for a certain woman if he could. But it’s an interesting question. If you were king (or queen), what changes would you make? It’s especially interesting given this political season where, by and large, deservedly or not, our presidential candidates are the focus of our ire. “So Ok, Mr./Mrs. Smartypants, if you were king/president, what would you change?”

When I consider that question there is much that comes to mind.  I’d change some economic policies to benefit the poor.  I’d be engaged in seeking answers to the Syrian refugee crisis. I’d be engaged in questions affecting the environment. But the issue that has had my heart since this summer is race.  
We all know there is a problem. There’s a problem because we don’t know.  There’s a problem because we don’t know the view of the world through eyes other than our own. And we won’t know because most of us know, truly know, precious few people of other races. Acquaintances, business associates, fellow parents whose children play on the same sports team…maybe. But have over to dinner, go out socializing, take dinner when times are tough?

So if I were king, I’d make some changes designed to bring folk together, across all sorts of racial/cultural divides. Of course I’m not king, so I guess no one has to worry. But then again, as Christians we profess that someone is King. And my guess is that if Jesus were to walk into Memphis, the issue he would address without delay is race. Indeed, it would be my guess that he would set a record for crashing the most segregated scenes in our city in the shortest amount of time. It’s because of that, that I believe we have no option but to be engaged in the question of race, especially now, especially here, especially after this past summer. It’s the job of everyone, but the church, those who are called by His name, to lead the way. We just have to.  We’ll all be held accountable one day for what we have done and left undone. And we won’t have an answer for everything. But when I’m asked as to how I helped move the needle on the question of race as a pastor in Memphis, TN, I want to have at least a bit of a credible response.

To that end, since this summer, Mary, Brittany, and I have been meeting with a coalition of Memphis pastors and clergy, over 300 total, that have met repeatedly and have drawn up a series of serious initiatives to address not only the issues of race, but of education and poverty and violence that lie at the root of so much of our racial discord. I’ve contacted numerous African American pastors seeking to build alliances.  I’ve worked with our sister Easter Sunrise churches on several efforts. I will continue working on these efforts. But what has yielded the most fruit thus far has been leaning into the relationships that First Baptist already has with Greater Lewis Street Missionary Baptist Church, across the street, and Lifeline To a Dying World Ministries, one of our missional partners. Rev. Myron Donald and Rev. DeAndre Brown share my burden and vision for cooperation that goes beyond periodic events to more substantive dialogues and service that is birthed in meaningful relationships. At the time this article is published we will have already laid some of the groundwork for this in our cookout at the Overton Park pavilion held October 23. But stay tuned. There will be meaningful follow up with these churches and ministries and maybe others.  And anyone who wants to be involved...come see me. Because Christ is King. And some changes are going to be made.
Grace, David


This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the November edition of Together.

Posted by Bridget Ellis at 11:41 AM
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