What happened when a black and white church merged in Florida

By Julie Zauzmer - The Washington Post |  February 9, 2017


Photo credit:  Bob Self for the Washington Post
 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The topic of the public lecture at the seminary was “The Bible and Race,” and the discussion had turned to “racial reconciliation,” buzzwords used for new efforts to heal old rifts.

What would it look like, one pastor wanted to know, for a church to actually become “racially reconciled”? Was it even possible?

Cynthia Latham had been sitting silently in the back. Now she stood up.

“I am a member of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church,” she said slowly and proudly. “And we are a reconciled congregation.”

 In 2015, the church that Latham boasted of was two congregations, not one. There was the booming black church in the heart of the inner city, led by a charismatic preacher in the staunch tradition of black Baptists. And there was the quiet white church, nestled in the suburbs half an hour to the south, holding onto a tightknit community of Southern Baptist believers.

And then the black church and the white church merged. The resulting congregation at Shiloh — black and white, urban and suburban — appears to be the only intentional joint church of its kind in the United States...

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