National Ministries will screen the award-winning documentary “Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism” at its luncheon with a panel discussion at the biennial gathering of the American Baptist Churches-USA in Pasadena, Calif., in June.


Luncheon panelists include: Juan Martinez, assistant dean, Hispanic Church Studies department, and associate professor, Hispanic Studies and Pastoral Leadership, School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena; Katie Choy-Wong, pastor, New Life Christian Fellowship, Castro Valley; Warren H. Stewart Sr., pastor, First Institutional Baptist Church, Phoenix, Ariz.; and Rudy Carrasco, executive director, Harambee Christian Family Center, Pasadena.


Underwritten with the help of National Ministries, “Beneath the Skin” won the best documentary award at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville in October 2008 and a similar award at the Cine-Fest Motion Picture Expo in Louisville in December. It was accepted for screening at the San Diego Black Film Festival in January and was nominated for the best documentary award at the Texas Black Film Festival in February.


Documentary interviewees include a number of American Baptist leaders, including Aidsand Wright-Riggins III, executive director of National Ministries, who serves on the board of directors of the Baptist Center for Ethics, the parent organization of


Early in the documentary, Wright-Riggins recalled an experience as a religion major in college that underscored the tension between religion and race. He told about fellow students watching him without reaction as he tore the picture of a black Jesus but attacking him when he began to tear the traditional picture of the blue-eyed, white Jesus.


Other ABC-USA documentary interviewees include James Stallings, regional minister, Metropolitan Churches of New York; Douglas Stowers, pastor, Mount Calvary Baptist Church, Atlanta; and Marilyn Turner, associate executive director, National Ministries, American Baptist Churches-USA, Valley Forge, Penn.


With 5,500 local congregations, ABC-USA is recognized as one of the most diverse denominations.


In another sign of the flourishing partnerships among Baptists in North America, I have been invited to moderate the luncheon panel. I’m honored by National Ministries’ invitation and grateful that goodwill Baptists are finding new ways to work together to advance the common good.


I hope readers will order their tickets for this luncheon and will forward this editorial to their friends in Los Angeles, encouraging them to attend this luncheon on June 27.


National Ministries is also sponsoring a Sunday luncheon that deserves active support.


“Role Models for Walking the Talk in the 21st Century” will feature Baptist minister Al Staggs re-enacting the lives of major theologians and social justice activists Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Clarence Jordan.


From personal experience, I can guarantee readers that the Staggs luncheon promises to be a biennial highlight.


Both lunches are scheduled from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Pasadena Convention Center.


National Ministries has announced that unsubsidized tickets for each luncheon cost $35 per person; subsidized tickets cost $30 per person. Tickets for individuals who are not registered for the Biennial may be purchased for $45.  Visit to register for ABC-USA’s 2009 biennial and these inspirational luncheons.


Robert Parham is executive editor of and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.

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