We, the staff, leadership, and congregation of Second
Baptist Church, reject racism in all its forms.
We recognize that racism, both systemic and personal, has
plagued our country and our churches. It is past time for racism to be
named for the evil that it is, for systems to be transformed and for
individuals to come face-to-face with their personal sin of racism.
It is time to look seriously at the racial inequality and
the inequities that prevail in society and change the system so that all people
are treated equally and equitably.
And in the church, it is time for us to repent, to seek
forgiveness, and to seek reconciliation with our brothers and sisters who are
often pre-judged, not based on their character, but on the color of their
skin or the country from which they come or the language which they speak. It
is time for all of us to work for justice.
We really do believe that we are all in this together
and it is time for us to take care of each other,
Signed by 82 members of the Body of Christ as constituted here at Second Baptist Church.
Second Baptist Church has a history of addressing racism and other forms of discrimination “head-on.” In the 1820s, the church, known at that time as “the Baptist Church of St. Louis,” included freedmen as members, including John Berry Meachum, who became a well-known pastor, businessman, and educator. From his ties at the Baptist Church of St. Louis, Meachum started the “African Church of St. Louis,” the oldest Black church in Missouri.
Second Baptist has continued to maintain a diverse membership throughout its history, and its members are not afraid to engage on difficult topics. For instance, the church’s “open membership” practice of accepting members through letter rather than baptism resulted in Reverend Leon R. Robinson being “voted out” of the Baptist Pastor’s Conference of St. Louis in 1949. Reverend Robison is the author of Second Baptist Church’s “This We Believe” statement that describes our belief in freedom of the individual in all matters of faith and the practice of religion. Through Reverend Robison’s leadership, in the 1960’s, Second Baptist and Antioch Baptist Church held joint vacation Bible School to further the cause of integration.
Ministers at Second Baptist have been prominent leaders, taking strong positions politically, socially, and theologically. They have stressed “the right and duty of ministers and laymen to think” (The Rev. Dr. Bitting). Members, too, have never been reluctant to make their stands known! Rev. Jeter (1849-53) reflected that the church “had their peculiar views of preaching, music, the manner of conducting public worship, church discipline, etc. [But] this diversity leads to great liberality and forbearance among the brethren.”