World has ‘heart problem,’ Richmond’s Blythe says during Dialogue on Race

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/CU Public Affairs) – “I speak about where I have been and where I am now,” the Rev. Robert Blythe, pastor of First Baptist Church of Richmond, Ky., said as guest speaker for Campbellsville University’s Dialogue on Race observance.

He spoke of attending segregated school in Richmond, Ky., where he grew up, for eight years before integration was legalized and he then attended the city’s high school.

After graduating from Eastern Kentucky University in 1971, he taught at Madison Southern High School which had 900 students, of which only 1% of students where non-white and he was the only non-white faculty member.

“I often had to remind people I wasn’t there as the Black math and French teacher; I was there as a math and French teacher,” Blythe said about the tension of being the only Black person in the school.

“I speak in context of being a person of faith in God and follower of Jesus Christ,” Blythe said about the questions he faced during his election to Richmond’s City Commission in 2002.

“I wanted to try to bring something positive to the concept of politics.”

He referenced the Rev. Andrew Carnegie Goodloe, his predecessor as pastor of First Baptist Church, while speaking about the concept of perspective.

“One of the things that Reverend Goodloe told me was that you don’t go wrong by treating people right,” he said.

“To say we have problems in this country is a true understatement,” he said.

“If you were to ask me for an assessment of our racial condition in this country,” Blythe said, “I would simply tell you that we have a heart problem.”

Blythe spoke about how he has come to love and appreciate life more since his battle with cancer six years ago. He referenced the change of heart that, went through in the gospels in saying that he has an even greater love of people, even when they don’t love or like him.

“When the heart is changed, loving requires no effort, for where the spirit of God is, there is love,” he said.

As generations pass, more doors are opened and more opportunities are made available, Blythe said. However, he said that if we do not remain vigilant, those opportunities could be taken away.

“Along with privilege comes responsibility,” he said while speaking about maintaining peaceful action and avoiding the negative results that come from violence.

“We have to use good sense innovating ourselves of the good things that have been handed to us at the cost, dignity and blood of those who came before us,” he said.

Legislation and government can only go so far; expecting for worldly concepts to fix everything will lead nowhere, Blythe said. He said Jesus is the answer to all of the world’s problems and we must trust in Him to make a way.

Campbellsville University is a Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 11,900 students offering more than 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs.

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