Statement on Whitefield and Slavery

We honor Whitefield’s role as a life-changing evangelist and a forgotten founding father, but our nation’s too-gradual awakening to the insidious effects of systemic racism compel us to confront his advocacy of slavery. Whitefield’s witness for Christ was wide-ranging, powerful, and profound, but his support of slavery in the colony of Georgia was tragically inconsistent with his message that all people are equal in the eyes of God.

“The Great Awakening Meets a Just Awakening: the 250th Commemorative Anniversary of George Whitefield” acknowledges the gap between the inclusive gospel message that Whitefield preached and his devastating failure to embrace the full personhood of African Americans. As followers of Christ in a nation that still bears the scars of slavery, we also confess our failure to champion the cause of racial justice with wholehearted zeal.

We have put a great deal of thought and prayer into the events of this commemoration, and we hope that they balance admiration with education, inspiration with challenge, and history with hope. We are “just awakening” to the many ways in which we need to do better. We pray that Whitefield’s “spark of holy fire” will kindle a truly “just awakening.”

Next Steps

You are invited to join Old South in doing something concrete to help alleviate the social injustices of our society. Please consider donating to the Social Impact Center, a place where Roxbury Presbyterian helps local victims dealing with trauma come to healing. Below is a video explaining more.

In addition, you are invited to return to three future online Public Square Forums: Can The Church Reverse Course on Black Social Injustice?

We will continue the conversation with notable guests, and expand our horizons, not just of intellectual understanding, but also of heart-felt compassionate action. Please register here to receive notification about these events.

The Great Awakening Meets A Just Awakening: Whitefield's 250th Commemorative Anniversary / August 3 — October 4, 2020, Online

The Great Awakening Meets A Just Awakening: Whitefield's 250th Commemorative Anniversary / August 3 — October 4, 2020, Online