Moderate Baptists test unity in diversity

Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant
At a gathering in Atlanta of Baptists trying to mend fences and join hands, there was preaching by blacks and whites, scripture readings by women and men, and music by African-American and Hispanic groups. It was a visible, concerted push toward unity amid diversity, officials say, because Baptists have long championed freedom of expression.

“We respect that we have differences, and I think that we’re willing to find common cause even though we have those differences,” said Daniel Vestal, coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a moderate Baptist group.

But the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, a three-day gathering of some 10,000 Baptists that ended February 1, is also testing the limits of that big-tent diversity. Some are asking how far Baptists are willing to go.


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