Pastor Forced to Leave Mississippi Church for Speaking Out on Racial Issues

A pastor in Columbus, Mississippi, has been forced to leave his church because of his outspokenness against racial injustice. Sunday, June 21, was the last official day at The Heights church for Bishop Scott Volland and his wife, Debra, after the church’s board voted them out on June 18.

“It has deeply hurt us because this is people that we’ve poured three and half years of our lives into, people that we’ve been with through weddings, weddings of their children, baptisms,” Volland told WCBI News. “They said that what I was doing was shedding a negative light on the church, and I was told my views didn’t reflect many of the views in that church, that they in fact did not only disagree with me being involved, but in many cases disagreed with what I was saying.”

Volland has not been shy about his views on racial inequality. He has participated in peaceful protests and prayer walks, as well as speaking out online.

What Happened with The Heights Church

On June 19, the day after the board’s vote, Volland shared a detailed update about the situation on Facebook:

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.

Racial diversity and unity has been one of his goals from the beginning of his time at The Heights church, said Volland. “From day one, we have been clear and upfront about our vision and calling towards multicultural ministry and what we believe is God’s desire in building/growing The Heights into an ethnically diverse, unified congregation. A place where ALL PEOPLE are not simply welcomed, but appreciated, celebrated, and loved. That burden has been expressed and emphasized increasingly, especially over the last year and a half.”

According to WCBI, it seems likely the church’s actions are related to recent national attention that has come to Lowndes County, which the city of Columbus lies within. On June 16, the county’s board of supervisors voted on whether or not to remove a Confederate statue from in front of the county courthouse, a motion which failed by a vote of 3-2. The vote fell along racial lines: The three white board members voted to keep it, while the two black members voted to remove it. Bishop Volland was present at that meeting and publicly argued for the statue’s removal.

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Source: Church Leaders