Bishop Joseph Walker and the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International (FGBCF) launched a "new kingdom initiative and ministry paradigm" that focused on a "progressive agenda to promote church, social and political reform" via a "five point platform." This historic gathering was by invitation only and featured prominent, new generation pastors and leaders that came to Miami, Florida to "interact and to integrate their ideas on bold, powerful and world changing topics."
However, not lost on many was the omission of women at this historical gathering. This sparked an intense and trending tweet chat on December 10, 2013 (#R3nowomen) and an open letter, initiated by Woman Preach CEO and Founder, Dr. Valerie Bridgman to Bishop Walker and the attendees of the inaugural meeting of the "SHIFT." Many criticized the initiative as backwards, and wondered how a group could talk about the future of the church and have no women present. Others felt like we have learned nothing from the work of feminists and activists in both the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.
We are not questioning the motives of Bishop Walker and the FGBCF, for they can speak and indeed have spoken for themselves. We, the undersigned, just wanted simply to say that as men, we support women, period! We feel that this is important for us as men to say, and to say loudly. We acknowledge that we benefit from (black) male privilege (BMP) in the church, and that sometimes that can blind us from recognizing and realizing how we benefit from such a system.
Therefore, as ministers of the gospel, church leaders and people who love and support women, we promise to speak up, speak out, stand up and stand with our sisters in ministry. We promise to listen better, learn better, live better and love better. In short, we respect and affirm our sisters in ministry, and our desire is to become even better allies at standing up to this ecclesiastical discrimination that continues, seemly unabated, in our churches. Therefore, we say again, and say loudly -- we support and love our sisters in ministry!
*See who has signed the letter here.
We invite others to sign our letter as well. If you would like to be included, please just send your name, and how you would want us to list you to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Andre E. Johnson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/aejohnsonphd