MLK Day reading: Black, white and Gray


Black, white and Gray (reporting from Nashville, Tenn.): Civil rights attorney who once challenged Lipscomb University in court receives the Christian university’s highest honor.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Forty-five years ago, civil rights attorney and preacher Fred Gray filed a lawsuit that exposed deep divides between black and white members of Churches of Christ.

The 1967 lawsuit challenged the transfer of more than $400,000 in assets from the closed Nashville Christian Institute — a school that trained hundreds of future black church leaders — to David Lipscomb College, a higher education institution with a history of racism.

On a recent Friday night, that same Christian college — now known as Lipscomb University — presented Gray with an honorary doctorate of humane letters, the highest award the university bestows on an individual.

“It is not every day that you file a lawsuit against an institution and that institution later sees fit to honor you,” Gray, 81, told a crowd of 500 that witnessed the ceremony in Lipscomb’s Allen Arena.

Who, Gray asked, would have thought such an honor would be possible for an Alabama boy who grew up in a shotgun house with no running water?

For a boy who rode segregated buses and witnessed the frequent mistreatment of black people?

For a boy who, before he became a lawyer determined to “destroy everything segregated” he could find, performed manual labor in the yards of Lipscomb professors?

“If each of us would be really honest … we would say that we never thought this would be possible,” Gray said of the Lipscomb honor.

This story originally appeared in the August 2012 edition of The Christian Chronicle.

GetReligion: January 2017


Links to Bobby Ross Jr.’s top columns

Just in time for new year, one state debates ending government-sanctioned marriage. Published Jan. 4.

In real-life Mayberry, what makes Trump supporters tick: Religion? Race? Economics? Published Jan. 5.

As Emanuel AME gunman gets death, looking for faith — and finding it — on victims’ side. Published Jan. 11.

Victim’s blood-stained Bible ‘reminds me of the blood Jesus shed for me and you, Dylann Roof.’ Published Jan. 12.

You’ll never guess who called Texas bill to end abortion the ‘most extreme measure’ yet. Published Jan. 16.

Inauguration week goodies: Elephants, donkeys and thought-provoking Godbeat stories. Published Jan. 18.

Click below for additional January 2017 columns.

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‘Blue’ and gold: My Top 10 favorite new country songs of 2016


By Bobby Ross Jr. 

Just for fun, here are my Top 10 favorite new country songs of 2016.

A word of warning: My iMusic playlist includes much more classic country than new country. In recent years, I find I don’t recognize half the singers on the CMA and ACM awards — and I don’t understand the appeal of some of the ones I do.

Still, there’s a 99.5 percent chance I’m missing awesome songs that belong on this list. Fellow country fans, please feel free to tell me what those songs are.

As for non-fans of God’s favorite genre of music, you have my sympathy.

• • •

10. “From the Ground Up,” Dan + Shay.

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Ten stories that inspired me — and hopefully you — during 2016


Ten stories that inspired me — and hopefully you — during 2016: These Christians demonstrated faith, hope and love.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

I am blessed.

As chief correspondent for The Christian Chronicle, I am privileged to tell the stories of Christians living out their faith — often under difficult circumstances.

Over the last decade, my travels with the Chronicle have taken me to all 50 states (I finally made it to the Dakotas this year!) and 10 countries.

As we near the end of this year, here are 10 individuals and groups who inspired me — and hopefully you — during 2016.

These are just a few examples among many who deserve to be recognized.

This column appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

For a closed urban church, an alternate ending


For a closed urban church, an alternate ending (reporting from Houston): Disbanded congregation’s old building purchased by Impact Houston, which plans to expand to a second location.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

HOUSTON — Another closed church.

Another lost opportunity to serve wounded souls in the inner city.

That could have been the story as the Lindale Church of Christ — a once-flourishing congregation in the nation’s fourth-largest city — disbanded in December 2015.

However, leaders and supporters of the Impact Houston Church of Christ — which has become a model of urban ministry among Churches of Christ — intend to write a different ending.

In the Lindale church’s heyday, hundreds of worshipers filled the elegant, red-brick building — a landmark near Houston’s busy interchange of Interstates 45 and 610.

Now, thousands of motorists pass a dilapidated structure with boarded-up windows, broken bricks and letters falling off the “Lindale” below the steeple.

On a recent visit to the church property, Impact elder Ron Sellers discovered a side door busted open. Blankets, pill bottles and scraps of garbage were scattered inside the dark, moldy building. The debris indicated that squatters had taken up residence.

Far from discouraged, Sellers said the scene only reinforced the need for bringing hope — physical and spiritual — to this hurting community.

This story appears in the January 2016 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.