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Dr. Greg T. MathisWrong Dr. Greg T. Mathis?
Mud Creek Baptist Church
403 Rutledge Drive
Hendersonville , North Carolina 28739
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. - A Henderson County, N.C., church is apologizing for actions motivated by racism that caused its congregation to split in two in 1867.
Mud Creek Baptist Church will host a special service on Sunday that will seek reconciliation with Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church for wrongs done in the past by its members.
"We should have done this a long time ago," said Dr. Greg T. Mathis, pastor at Mud Creek Baptist.
The service will include a short video, a message from Mathis and the dedication of a framed letter of apology to the current pastor and congregation of Mud Creek Missionary Baptist.
"I'm going to be preaching a pretty stern message from the Bible," Mathis said.
The sermon will be part of Mathis' current sermon series "What a Christian Should Look Like."
"You only have to look at a situation like Ferguson (Mo.) to know that there's still a lot of conflict in this country," Mathis added. "We've come a long way but still have a way to go."
The Rev. Matthew Tollison Sr., pastor of Mud Creek Missionary Baptist, said that
"It's a great gesture," Tollison said.
In its letter, Mud Creek Baptist offers an apology for the church's post-Civil War policy for treatment of African-American members, and it seeks, with humility and contrition, reconciliation with Tollison and
"I'm satisfied, and hopefully everyone else will think the way I think," said Tollison, who has pastored the Mud Creek Missionary congregation for 19 years.
Tollison and Mathis said they have been friendly for years; Mathis has preached at Mud Creek Missionary occasionally over the years.
"I am grateful that our congregations have accomplished much through the years for the Kingdom of God," Mathis read from the formal letter.
Tollison and Mathis said that the framed letters would be hung in prominent areas in each of the churches.
In the 35 years that
"I wanted to know why Mud Creek split into two churches," Mathis said. "I highly suspect that in the South this happened all over."
On April 27, 1867, the sixth order of business deemed that Mud Creek's African-American members "be allowed" the two back pews on the men's side when the house was not full.
In the same order of business, it was agreed that one of the white preachers would lead a service for the black members at 3 p.m. on the fourth Sabbath of every month.
"What really broke my heart is that if they came to worship, they had to sit in the two back pews if no whites were sitting there," Mathis said.
A month after the 1867 decision, black members split from the church to organize Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church, now located on Roper Road in East Flat Rock.
For many years, the congregation had no permanent meeting site and would worship outdoors and in various locations until enough was saved to buy land and build a simple sanctuary.
The congregation moved the church to its current location in 1933.
Tollison says that two antique pews remain against the back wall in the church on Roper Road - simple benches made from planks of wood.
Other pews date from the 1960s - pews that Mud Creek Baptist donated to the Missionary Baptist church when the larger church built a new sanctuary in 1995.
The 15-minute video to be screened at the Oct. 12 service features Mathis interviewing Tollison and the Rev. James E. Roberts, pastor of Fairmont Missionary Baptist Church in Asheville, N.C.
"I am impressed by their spirit," Mathis said. "They're not angry or bitter, and don't appear to be scarred or hurt."
Asked what the two pastors had to say to the Mud Creek church family regarding racism and whether they think the nation has made strides against racism, Mathis noted that there is no mention in the Bible of different races - nations and tribes are mentioned, but there is only talk of a "human race."
Worship services are at 8:30, 9:45 and 11 a.m. at Mud Creek Baptist.