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.