Canadian Baptists Push Race Conversation Beyond Black History Month

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With new president, Atlantic churches seek fuller reckoning with complicated history.

Rhonda Britton typically gets invited to preach at white churches one month of the year—February.

She’s happy to accept those invitations during Canada’s African Heritage Month, but it’s also clear to her that annual sermons from one black person are not enough to address the problems of racism in the country or in the church.

“My job is to prepare the hearts of people who have been wounded. People have been traumatized, and people are living with trauma,” said Britton. “You can’t just deliver one sermon a year.”

Now Britton, a black woman who pastors a historically black Baptist church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is going to be doing a lot more than an annual black history sermon. She has been elected the first black woman to serve as president of the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada (CBAC).

Canadians have not been as divided as their neighbors in the United States about police violence and racism, and Canadian Baptists are not as caught up in quarrels over critical race theory as their southern counterparts. But Britton’s election nevertheless comes at a time when the more than 450 CBAC churches in the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland are turning a critical eye toward their own history.

The Baptists hope to reckon with past racism, address continuing systemic issues, and work toward an equitable and inclusive future. Britton will do her best to help lead the way.

Britton said she’s already seen progress since she moved to Nova Scotia from Florida in 2002. She didn’t expect to find many major differences between the United States and Canada, but she noticed one right away.

“I’ve never been …

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