ADA, Okla. (BP) – During a Twitter Space conversation on Monday night (Aug. 1), SBC President Bart Barber and Native American Pastor Mike Keahbone discussed the passing of Resolution 4, which decried the forced assimilation and conversion of Native peoples.
Barber served as Chairman of the 2022 Resolutions Committee, while Keahbone, pastor of First Baptist Church Lawton, Okla., helped draft the resolution titled “On Religious Liberty, Forced Conversion, and the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report,” as part of his work with the Committee.
The two recorded the presentation while visiting Indian Falls Creek Camp in Ada, Okla. Later Monday night they presented the resolution during Monday’s evening session.
Barber is the first SBC President to attend Indian Falls Creek Camp, the largest gathering of Christian Native American believers in the world. This year marks the 75th anniversary. Around 1,400 students are attending the camp this year.
He opened the Twitter Space conversation by speaking to the important role SBC resolutions play.
“Resolutions give the Southern Baptist Convention messenger body the opportunity to speak to issues that they think are important, issues that are central to who we are as Baptists and issues that shape the direction of our ministries,” Barber said.
Barber said he is planning to host a Twitter Space conversation talking about each of the resolutions that were passed during the annual meeting in Anaheim.
Barber said the resolution was written in response to a recently released federal report documenting the forced assimilation and conversion of Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians in the U.S. between 1819 and 1969.
The report said Native peoples were specifically targeted with these efforts of forced conversion and assimilation in order to systematically remove them from their native lands.
Much of the efforts took place in the form of mandatory boarding schools for Native children, which were run with the help of various Christian denominations. Southern Baptists are not specially mentioned among the denominations in the report.
Isolation and abusive tactics were used by the boarding schools to try to force Native children to reject their heritage and instead embrace Christianity. Around 75 percent of the boarding schools mentioned in the report were located in Okla.
The resolution rejects any type of forced conversion or assimilation of Native peoples as antithetical to Southern Baptist beliefs about the Great Commission, religious liberty and soul freedom.
“This resolution says something about our beliefs in our missiology, religious Liberty, and how we share the Gospel with people who need to hear the Gospel,” Barber said.
Jennifer Barnett is on the Executive Board for Indian Falls Creek, and joined Barber and Keahbone for the beginning portion of the conversation.
She explained what the passing of the resolution meant to her and all Native peoples.