Prattville pastor resigns following controversial invocation

Alabama Baptist bivocational pastor Will Dismukes resigned from Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Prattville, on July 29 following three days of backlash resulting from a Facebook post.

Dismukes, a Republican state representative whose district includes Prattville and Millbrook, gave the invocation July 25 at an annual birthday celebration for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a leader in the Confederate Army and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, according to many historians. 

The event was held at Fort Dixie in Selma and coincided with ceremonies honoring the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an Alabama native who was a leader in the civil rights movement. Lewis was a longtime member of Congress from Georgia.

Dismukes posted on Facebook the next day: “Had a great time at Fort Dixie speaking and giving the invocation for Nathan Bedford Forrest annual birthday celebration. Always a great time and some sure enough good eating!!”

The post was later removed.

Alabama lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties have denounced Dismukes for participating in the event.

‘Saddened and grieved’

Mel Johnson, lead mission strategist for Autauga Baptist Association, of which Pleasant Hill is a member, participated in the previously scheduled July 29 deacon’s meeting at the church.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have met with the church’s leadership for prayer and encouragement as many, through no fault of their own, have found themselves caught in the midst of this issue that has drawn national attention,” Johnson said. “I am also thankful that Autauga Baptist churches can move forward and remain focused toward Great Commission efforts to communicate the gospel and reach our world for Christ.

“Scripture is clear that all people are created in God’s image and therefore equal in every way before Christ and our personal need of Him as Savior and Lord.

“Immediate effort was made to connect with Will on behalf of our leadership with commitment toward a biblically based process to mitigate controversy surrounding this issue,” Johnson explained. “He was open and receptive to our call and subsequent in-person meeting on Tuesday afternoon (July 28).”

Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, added, “We are saddened and grieved to learn of the recent Facebook post by state Rep. Will Dismukes. … In the wake of tremendous controversy we reaffirm our opposition to any kind of racism.”

Lance’s June 4 blog post “A Personal Credo Concerning Racism” was reposted and affirmed by the officers of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and State Board of Missions on July 27.

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