Saddened by the persistent racial and theological divisions between Baptist communities in the United States, President Jimmy Carter determined to do what he could to heal the divides. In 2007, President Carter brought together prominent leaders from across the Baptist family. These leaders represented more than 30 Baptist organizations and over 20 million people. He challenged them to explore new opportunities for fellowship and cooperation. From this effort, a ministry of action named the New Baptist Covenant was born, uniting Baptists and renewing our pursuit of unity and justice on the local and national scale.
The New Baptist Covenant creates vibrant, inclusive Baptist communities, building bridges in places previously marked by division. We are called by God to champion the weak and oppressed, honor the diverse workings of the Holy Spirit and to share the love of Christ. Our work is rooted in the words of Jesus Christ found in Luke 4:18-19:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This text is at the center of everything we do and motivates us to overcome historic divisions within our Baptist family. We are stronger together, and when we come together in fellowship to take action we can make our work a demonstration of the Kingdom of God, and make vital changes in our communities.
Across the country, congregations from the same city – sometimes as close as down the street from one another – who frequently serve historically segregated communities come together to nurture their relationships and transform their communities. After serious and hard conversations about what it means to form a Covenant of Action with each other, the congregations identify a pressing issue to work together to address. Covenant of Action projects have included literacy programs, food justice initiatives and economic development advocacy.