An Alabama pastor said he was fired from his church July 31 because he wanted to invite African Americans to Vacation Bible School (VBS).

Alabama Pastor Jonathan Greer (Screenshot)

Pastor Jonathan Greer was fired from Mt. Sterling Baptist Church in Butler one-and-a-half years into his tenure after members voted 31-0 to oust him from leadership, according to several news reports. The termination came after at least one deacon told him the church “was in an uproar” over his intent to invite Black children to the church, the minister told the Baptist Press.

“There was pushback about where the types of children we were bringing in, and I was asked to not invite Black children to VBS,” the 26-year-old pastor told ABC affiliate WTOK-TV.

Freddie Moore, a deacon with the church, denied that race motivated the church’s vote, saying Greer was fired because he would not work with deacons and failed to visit members of the congregation.

The Sunday before his dismissal, Greer addressed the issue, preaching a sermon denouncing racism.

“I wanted the church to know that this is not consistent with the gospel. This is not consistent with God’s word that we honor and give dignity to all people. That’s what the Bible teaches us, and all people are worthy and in need of the gospel, and racism denies that to a certain amount of people,” Greer told WTOK.

Some church members, however, criticized Greer’s sermon, saying it was largely responsible for his pink slip as he used unnecessarily forceful language and misclassified the entire rural congregation as “racist.”

“It was not a sermon of love. It was a sermon of anger and hate,” longtime church member Norma Wimberley told Baptist Press.

Terry Long, director of missions for the Choctaw Baptist Association, with which Mt. Sterling cooperates, said Greer did “come out swinging” but the sermon was “biblically truthful and accurate.”

“At the beginning of his sermon, it seemed a little overbearing to me and a little harsh,” Long told Baptist Press, “but he softened midway through the sermon and just got into the Scripture and basically told them what the Scripture said. And then he called them to repentance.”

Long further said the church erred in firing Greer, especially since young pastors are wont to make mistakes and should be afforded some grace.

“He stood valiantly for the truth. He would not compromise and deserves our admiration and encouragement and praise for that,” Long added.

Butler is the county seat of Choctaw County, Ala. According to the 2010 Census, the town comprises 1,894 residents, more than 70 percent of which are White. A little over a quarter, 26.7 percent, is African American.

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO