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OPINION

African American fellowship leader ready to work 'arm-in-arm' for racial healing

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (BP) -- The president of the National African American Fellowship has voiced "a heart to forgive" following the reprimands of Richard Land issued by trustees of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
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James Dixon Jr., NAAF president and pastor of El-Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md., noted in a statement to Baptist Press:

"Because Jesus died on a cruel cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we too must have a heart to forgive. We accept his apology and covenant not only to hold him accountable in the future but to work arm-in-arm in the cause of racial healing. Racial reconciliation is not a political issue for us. It is a gospel issue a Kingdom issue."

The ERLC's trustee executive committee, on June 1, reprimanded Land for "irresponsible, insensitive, and racially charged words" during a March 31 radio broadcast about the Trayvon Martin killing. A second reprimand cited Land for "quoting material without giving attribution" on the broadcast. See today's http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37942. On May 9, Land issued a five-part, two-page apology for his actions. See http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37795.

Dixon, in his June 1 statement to Baptist Press, said, "While we may not totally agree with the outcome and feel as if it didn't go far enough, we have no choice but to honor and respect it. I truly believe concluded that their resolution was for the best."

Dixon noted, "All of us are aware that our actions and choices bring consequences. As a result of Dr. Land's actions, it is my opinion that he will begin to lose credibility in the minds of some Christians regardless of their ethnicity." Yet, Dixon stated, "We as Christians believe that our credibility depends on our love and respect for one another. … It is my hope that each of us who truly love the Lord will accept what has taken place, move on, and trust the final results in the hands of God. Our ultimate desire should be to bring honor and glory to our Father and leaving a positive reflection on the kingdom and this convention."

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The NAAF encompasses 3,400 predominantly African American churches in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' staff writer. The full text of the statement by James Dixon Jr. of the National African American Fellowship follows:

Comments of Pastor James Dixon, Jr.

Pastor of El-Bethel Baptist Church, Fort Washington, Maryland

President of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention

In a recent meeting held on May 2, 2012, my colleagues and I met with Dr. Land regarding the issues at hand. During this meeting, we discovered Dr. Land has a life-long record of commitment to, and achievements in, racial reconciliation. It is because of his record that we found the use of language on his radio program aired March 31st so grievous. We were perplexed by how a man of his intelligence, commitment to Christ, and knowledge of Christian ethics could err so profoundly in his choice of words. It is our belief that he also made a serious and profound transgression in his language during that program. His words not only hurt the Trayvon Martin Family, but Americans of all ethnicities. He caused a setback in the cause of racial reconciliation. My colleagues and I do not take lightly the consequences of sin and nor does Dr. Land. We are grateful for the time spent with him and we believe he clearly heard our concerns.

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Because Jesus died on a cruel cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we too must have a heart to forgive. We accept his apology and covenant not only to hold him accountable in the future but to work arm-in-arm in the cause of racial healing. Racial reconciliation is not a political issue for us. It is a gospel issue a Kingdom issue. Jesus died and rose again to break down racial barriers. We take seriously what the Lord of heaven and earth said when he prayed for unity: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21).

I want to thank the trustees for the meticulous job in coming to their decision. While we all may not totally agree with the outcome and feel as if it didn't go far enough, we have no choice but to honor and respect it. I truly believe they concluded that their resolution was for the best.

We as Christians believe that our credibility depends on our love and respect for one another. All of us are aware that our actions and choices bring consequences. As a result of Dr. Land's actions, it is my opinion that he will begin to lose credibility in the minds of some Christians regardless of their ethnicity. With that being said, it is my hope that each of us who truly love the Lord will accept what has taken place, move on, and trust the final results in the hands of God. Our ultimate desire should be to bring honor and glory to our Father and leaving a positive reflection on the kingdom and this convention.

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Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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