Baptist Seminary of Kentucky is among five institutions of higher learning that are partnering with a Louisville-based interfaith group on a major conference dealing with systemic racism.
The 25th annual Festival of Faiths, which is sponsored by the Center for Interfaith Relations, is titled “Sacred Change: Essential Conversations on Faith and Race.” It will be held Nov. 18-20 at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville.
A Center for Interfaith Relations news release said this year’s festival “seeks to celebrate the unique beauty, power and strength of Black faith experience while facing the profoundly brutal outcomes of genocide, slavery and ‘profit at any cost.’”
At an Aug. 19 news conference, Lewis Brogdon, director of BSK’s Institute for Black Church Studies, told reporters the 2020 deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd at the hands of police created “another moment of reckoning” in the United States.
“Racism and structural injustice are a part of the fabric of America, and every generation must confront and correct it,” Brogdon said. “Our refusal to do this is exactly why we keep coming back to painful moments like this.”
BSK is convening a festival session on “Black Faith’s Encounter with Black Trauma, Pain and Nihilism.” It will follow a session titled “Keeping Emmet’s Casket Open: Racial Reckoning in America and Louisville,” which will be hosted by Simmons College of Kentucky, a BSK partner.
Simmons, a historically Black school, is the site of BSK’s classrooms and offices in Louisville.
During his remarks, Brogdon expressed hope the United States and Louisville can move closer to racial justice and harmony.
“As tragic as moments of reckoning can be, there is hope because, in these moments, we have a choice,” Brogdon emphasized. “We have a choice about the kind of nation we can be.”
In the session BSK is hosting, the goal is to move beyond superficial perceptions of the Black faith experience toward a fuller understanding of the context in which it is practiced, Brogdon said.
“The very resiliency and creativity of Black faith, so admired and so much more accepted by white America than other practices of Black survival and resistance, has always been forged in the crucible of pain, trauma and nihilism,” he explained. “Rather than romanticizing and trivializing Black faith, this session will explore how Black faith grapples with multi-generational violence, social displacement, crippling despair, and a sense of meaninglessness.”
Besides Simmons and BSK, institutions participating in the festival include Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Spalding University and the University of Louisville’s Department of Pan African Studies and the university’s Anne Braden Institute.
For more details, including ticket information, visit festivaloffaiths.org.