The minister and state representative stands up for Confederate heritage, but Baptist leaders said this week’s controversy was not good for his church.
A 30-year-old Baptist pastor in Alabama stepped down from leadership at his country church due to the controversy surrounding his participation in an event honoring Confederate and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Will Dismukes—who leads Pleasant Hill Baptist Church and also serves in the state legislature—gave the invocation at Forrest’s 199th birthday celebration in Selma on Saturday then posted a photo of himself standing in front of a portrait of the first KKK Grand Wizard and surrounded by Confederate flags.
The Facebook post was removed due to backlash, and Dismukes met early this week with leaders from the Autauga Baptist Association and his own congregation in Prattville, the Alabama Baptist reported.
Mel Johnson, lead mission strategist for the association, said the church was caught in the controversy, and following Dismukes’ resignation on Wednesday, “… Autauga Baptist churches can move forward and remain focused toward Great Commission efforts to communicate the gospel and reach our world for Christ.”
Dismukes, a Republican, said he saw his calling both in ministry and in politics. Within weeks of taking office last year as the representative for the state’s 88th district, he was also voted in as pastor of Pleasant Hill, a 100-member Baptist church where he had served as a youth pastor.
Though fellow politicians from both parties have criticized him for his involvement with the Forrest celebration, his position in office has outlasted his place in the pulpit.
Dismukes initially told a local TV station he was surprised by the pushback, saying he “wasn’t even thinking about … Nathan Bedford Forrest’s connection to the Ku Klux Klan” …