While celebrating the denomination’s broad ethnic, regional and linguistic diversity at their biennial meeting June 26-28, members of the American Baptist Churches USA also exhibited their ideological diversity.
Delegates, meeting in Pasadena, California, torpedoed a major restructuring that had been backed by denominational officials but criticized by many progressive leaders and churches.
The 377-217 tally in favor of the bylaws changes failed by a handful of votes to reach the two-thirds majority required to pass them.
The revisions would have spun off the denomination’s two mission boards into quasi-autonomous entities, altered the form of representation on ABCUSA’s main governing board and changed the method by which American Baptists approve policy statements and resolutions.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).