BJC Center for Faith, Justice and Reconciliation marks new chapter for organizations
BJC’s acquisition of the Center deepens commitment to issues at the intersection of race and religious freedom.
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Media contact: Karlee Marshall: [email protected] | 580-224-1817
WASHINGTON – BJC is proud to announce its acquisition of the Center for Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation, an organizational leader advancing justice and building cultures for reconciliation. The new BJC Center for Faith, Justice and Reconciliation marks an exciting new chapter for both organizations.
The acquisition includes welcoming Dr. Sabrina E. Dent to the BJC staff as the director of the BJC Center for Faith, Justice and Reconciliation. Dent has, until now, served as president of the free-standing Center for Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation and a member of the BJC Board of Directors. She resigned her position on the board before joining the staff. The Center was originally born out of the legacy of the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, which opened its doors in 1991 and closed in 2019.
“Across the organization, BJC recognizes that religious freedom has been white too long,” BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler said. “BJC acquiring the Center deepens our commitment to working for racial justice as a critical part of our mission to ensure religious freedom for all.”
The BJC Center for Faith, Justice and Reconciliation will be the home for BJC’s Project on Race and Religious Freedom. The Center will also host a new program called the Religious Freedom Immersion Experience, debuting in early 2024. It will continue its annual Religious Freedom Mobile Institute, with this year’s theme centered on fostering dialogue between Black nontheists and Black Church leaders.
Dr. Anthony Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities at Rice University, will collaborate with the Center to facilitate the dialogue. “The growth in the number of African Americans claiming to hold to no particular religious orientation has grown during the 21st century,” he said. “And this demographic shift raises important questions needing our attention: How does this population of nones impact the Black Church? What assumptions concerning Black Christianity are challenged by the growth in the number of Black nones? Do we need a new vocabulary for life meaning? Now is the time for explicit and public attention to these questions, and I can think of no institution with which I’d rather partner than BJC. It has a proven track record, and I look forward to our shared conference on these important questions.”
“The BJC Center for Faith, Justice and Reconciliation will broaden the conversation about religious freedom,” Dr. Sabrina E. Dent said. “For too long, we’ve had a narrow understanding of religious freedom that has shut too many people out of the conversation. Religious freedom impacts so many issues, including voting rights. How can we ensure religious freedom without equal access to the ballot box? Who benefits when religious freedom is ideologically boxed off from other issues? These are the types of questions we ask as this work continues into a new phase.”
The respective boards of directors of BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) and the Center for Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation enthusiastically approved BJC’s acquisition of the Center.
“I am thrilled that BJC has acquired the Center for Faith, Justice and Reconciliation,” said the Rev. Dr. Lynn Brinkley, chair of the BJC Board of Directors. “This gain will strengthen BJC’s mission, educational programming, and influence by embracing a more inclusive understanding of religious freedom. May this accomplishment lead to a more unified world that is just and reconciled.”
Most of the members of the Center’s board will now form an advisory council for the BJC Center for Faith, Justice and Reconciliation. The members are:
- The Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton, President and Professor of Public Theology, Chicago Theological Seminary and Founding Senior Pastor, The Open Church
- The Rev. Dr. Linda McKinnish Bridges, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, Salem College and Former President and Founding Faculty Member, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
- Steve Law, Principal, Financial Leadership for Churches and Nonprofits, LLC
- The Rev. Dr. Bill J. Leonard, Founding Dean and Professor of Divinity Emeritus, Wake Forest University School of Divinity
- Dr. Keisha E. McKenzie, Senior Vice President of Programs, Auburn Seminary
- The Rev. Dr. Corey D. B. Walker, Interim Dean, School of Divinity and Wake Forest Professor of the Humanities, Wake Forest University
- The Rev. Dr. Bill Wilson, Director, Center for Healthy Churches and Former Chair, Board of Trustees of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
“Auburn’s partnership with the BJC Center for Faith, Justice and Reconciliation allows us to work with colleagues to convene people of faith and moral courage, to explore these questions, and to press to resolve them. We’re called to work together anchored in the best gifts of our religious, ethical, and cultural traditions and a rigorous commitment to the dignity and flourishing of all people,” said Dr. Keisha E. McKenzie.
The Center also unveiled a new visual identity today. Click here to download graphics of the Center. “The Center’s logo embraces and evolves BJC’s own visual identity, but in new shades and new directions,” BJC Communications Director Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons said. “The Center will expand the conversation of religious freedom for all, and we are thrilled to work with Dr. Dent to tell the story visually and through other forms of communications.”
BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) is an 87-year-old religiously based organization working to defend faith freedom for all and protect the institutional separation of church and state in the historic Baptist tradition. BJC is the home of the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign.