A white Mississippi pastor, who believes God has been calling him to multicultural ministry, says he was given the boot by The Heights Church in Columbus for supporting the idea that “black lives matter (as a human fact)” and standing with protesters against racial injustice.
Bishop Scott Volland and his wife, Debra, who led the congregation for three and a half years, revealed in a Facebook post that the church’s board voted last Thursday night to part ways with him as their leader because his activism and views on racial equality did not align with the church’s position.
“Over the last couple of weeks, what we’ve heard sporadically over the last several months has become much more concentrated, in that many here ‘do not share my views’. Whether it is saying that ‘black lives matter’ (as a human fact), or in speaking out to remove racially offensive/insensitive monuments or politicians, I have been informed that my ‘agenda will not work at this church’, and that I ‘don’t speak for the church’. Nor do they agree with me sharing them publicly or being involved in any type of; marches, peaceful protests, governmental meetings, interviews, etc. concerning race or racism,” Volland explained in announcing his June 21 departure.
“I love everyone, (as God does), and have a fondness in my heart to many of the people we have come to know and love at The Heights, or those who have passed through, even just for a season. We hold no bitterness or hard feelings, but we also don’t believe that God’s call to us regarding the ministry He desires us to lead here in Columbus, MS has been fulfilled,” he said.
The Christian Post reached out to the church for comment on the situation Thursday but no one was immediately available to respond.
Volland told WCBI that people threatened to leave the church because of his activism and he was hurt by their response to the work he was trying to do.
“This has deeply hurt us. Because this is people we’ve poured three and half years of our lives into. We’ve been through weddings, weddings of their children, baptisms,” he said. “This is just a time where our visions and ideologies were diametrically opposed and it was best for us to part ways than continue to be a frustration one to another and have bitterness that builds up. I’d sooner part ways on a somewhat friendly note than to stay and part ways as enemies.”
A day after his exit from the church, he argued on Facebook that the response of some Christians to the legacy of slavery on black people in America has been hypocritical.
“It amazes me how many of the people that claim that ‘slavery ended 150 years ago’, and that ‘black folks just need to leave it in the past or just get over it’, will also fight tooth and nail to keep statues or (unofficial) flags from the same period, claiming that ‘they are our heritage’, and that ‘you can’t ignore or forget about history.’ You can’t have it both ways...that’s called hypocrisy," the pastor said.
Two days later on Wednesday, Volland announced that he and his wife had launched a new church “for all people” called The Bridge. He explained that God had already allowed him to secure a building for the ministry and donations are being made to help sustain it.