Protesters Call For Inclusion

Stand Against Southern Baptist Collaborative

Posted: November 19, 2015



Students from historically black colleges and universities gather at the intersection of Main Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way on Wednesday to demonstrate against the Southern Baptist Convention’s Collegiate Church Planting Collaborative. (Photos by Austin Bachand / DN-R)

Students demonstrate against Southern Baptist Convention’s Collegiate Church Planting Collaborative Wednesday for what they say is discrimination and exclusion.

HARRISONBURG — Holding signs with statements such as “#BlackStudentsNEEDJesusTOO” and “#ALLSoulsMatter,” a group of about two dozen black protesters lined a sidewalk near the intersection of Main Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way on Wednesday.

Gregory Drumwright, 35, pastor of Citadel of Praise Church and Campus Ministries in Greensboro, N.C., led the protest, which included students from Baptist campus ministries at various historically black colleges and universities.

He said they were demonstrating against a lack of racial inclusion in the Collegiate Church Planting Collaborative’s conference at James Madison University this week.

The protesters stood in front of JMU’s Baptist Campus Ministries on Wednesday afternoon, which was where Drumwright said members of the Southern Baptist Convention’s collaborative were meeting. 

He said they’ve been protesting since the first day of the conference on Monday.

The Collegiate Church Planting Collaborative is a group of practitioners and strategists “dedicated to doing church” with college and university students, its website says. Its Mid-Atlantic Collaborative, which was held from Monday to Wednesday, is a gathering of collegiate church leaders “to elevate and accelerate collegiate church planting across the country,” it says.

Drumwright said the collaborative has excluded black students and black colleges from its collegiate missions. He also said the conference was not open to all races.

“[R]esearch reveals that of the few [historically black colleges and universities] that have Baptist Campus Ministries, none have been informed or invited to collaborate with [the Southern Baptist Convention’s Collegiate Church Planting Collaborative],” he said in a news release. “This is telling of the organization’s leadership agenda and scheme to maintain and perpetuate a white, patriarchal base for the collegiate planting division.”

He said he attended a conference hosted by the collaborative in Oakland, Calif., in February. He discovered he was the only black attendee at the event, he said, and felt unwelcome. 

When he shared his concerns about racial exclusion with the group’s leaders, they were ignored and he was expelled from the collaborative, he said.

On its website, the collaborative says it is aware of Drumwright’s concerns and has offered to meet with him privately to discuss them in detail.

“We look forward to learning more about the concrete steps he would suggest we should take in order to make progress on his areas of concern,” the statement, titled “Efforts Toward Diversity,” says.

“In order to effectively share the Gospel on college campuses and throughout North America, we are committed to racial unity with our brothers and sisters of all races and ethnic backgrounds.”