Conversations | James Forman Jr.

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In recent years, America’s criminal justice system has become the subject of an increasingly urgent debate. Critics have assailed the rise of mass incarceration, emphasizing its disproportionate impact on people of color. As James Forman, Jr., points out, however, the war on crime that began in the 1970s was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers. In Locking Up Our Own, he seeks to understand why.

Forman shows us that the first substantial cohort of black mayors, judges, and police chiefs took office amid a surge in crime and drug addiction. Many prominent black officials, including Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry and federal prosecutor Eric Holder, feared that the gains of the civil rights movement were being undermined by lawlessness―and thus embraced tough-on-crime measures, including longer sentences and aggressive police tactics. In the face of skyrocketing murder rates and the proliferation of open-air drug markets, they believed they had no choice. But the policies they adopted would have devastating consequences for residents of poor black neighborhoods.

A former D.C. public defender, Forman tells riveting stories of politicians, community activists, police officers, defendants, and crime victims. He writes with compassion about individuals trapped in terrible dilemmas―from the men and women he represented in court to officials struggling to respond to a public safety emergency. Locking Up Our Own enriches our understanding of why our society became so punitive and offers important lessons to anyone concerned about the future of race and the criminal justice system in this country.


Monday, September 18th @ 7:00pm
First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary

If you have never participated in an even from Georgia Center for the Book, visit their website, and consider joining us on September 18th to hear James Forman Jr.!

Church Office Closed

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Hey FBCD family,

We've been keeping our eye on Hurricane Irma as it's made its way toward Florida over the last few days. Now as it makes its way toward us here in Atlanta, we have decided to close the church offices Monday and Tuesday of this week (9/11-9/12).

Most of Georgia is under a Tropical Storm Warning, businesses are choosing to shutter their doors early, and schools are cancelling classes. It might be best for all of us to stay home.

If you're scheduled to have an event or meeting at the church, then we suggest checking with your group leaders or event hosts as to whether your meetings/events are rescheduled. 

Stay safe, church! We'll see you Wednesday for dinner at 5:30pm :)

Grace and peace,


Support DEAM this September

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D.E.A.M. (Decatur-area Emergency Assistance Ministry) is a ministry supported primarily by 22 area churches that seek to meet the emergency needs of the less fortunate in the community.

During the month of September, FBCD is collecting the following items to distribute to D.E.A.M. You may place these items in the bins located throughout the church.

Most needed food items:

  • Soup (Cream of Chicken, Cream of Mushroom, Chicken Noodle, and Chicken and Rice)
  • Canned Baked Beans
  • Canned Pork n Beans
  • Canned Pineapple
  • Canned Yams
  • 1-lb. packages of Yellow and/or Brown Rice
  • Small boxes of Corn Muffin mix

Most needed non-food items:

  • Toilet paper
  • Bar soap
  • Deodorant

Assigned churches are: HT Pantry (FBC Decatur and North Decatur United Methodist), and Avondale Pantry (Lutheran Church of the Messiah).

Thank you for participating in this meaningful ministry through FBCD!

Volunteer for the Decatur Book Festival

The Decatur Book Festival

First Baptist Church Decatur will host attendees for the 12th AJC Decatur Book Festival (DBF) on September 2-3 (Labor Day weekend). We have been a book festival venue since 2009 and are delighted to again partner with our community and welcome hundreds of folks to our campus. Volunteers will cover a variety of venue support tasks in the sanctuary and Carreker Hall, have the opportunity to mingle with interesting authors, and receive a Decatur Book Festival t-shirt!

There are two ways you can serve for FBCD during the Book Festival:

1. Author Talk/Venue Support

Assist at one of the author venues by greeting attendees, directing them to seating, and managing lines during book purchases and signings.

2. Volunteer Check-in

Check in volunteers at FBCD office, give them their t-shirt, and direct them to their assignment in the sanctuary or Carreker. This is a perfect job for an organized, detail-oriented person who enjoys meeting people.

How to Sign Up 

Signing up is easy with the Volunteer Decatur automated system that allows you to see descriptions of the various roles, choose your preferred date, or make changes to your assignment after you sign up. The Book Festival volunteer calendar will be fully available in early July.

Previous Volunteers

If you have previously registered with Volunteer Decatur? Click here.

If you volunteered last year you should already be in the volunteer database. Use above link to log in, see all the available slots, and sign up.

New Volunteers

To sign up with Volunteer Decatur, click here. Complete the volunteer application/profile to get started; you will receive a confirmation email with log-in instructions.

Access the calendar to view open assignments and sign up.

Additional Questions

For questions about FBCD’s participation, contact Debra Pyron at or 404-202-1037.


Letter from Billy Roberts

Billy Roberts

Billy Roberts

Dear FBCD church family,

I am writing today to announce my resignation as Interim Pastor for Youth and Families and Fresh Start Coordinator.  My and my family’s last day at FBCD will be Wednesday, August 30.

In light of recent decisions concerning the future of the youth ministry at FBCD, I can no longer serve as an effective member of the ministerial staff.  I feel it is in my best interest, the best interest of my family, and the best interest of the youth group for me to seek a new position and church home.  The past two years of ministry with all of you have been some of the most rewarding and challenging times of my life.  You all have helped me grow professionally and spiritually.  Because of you, I'm leaving better than when I arrived.

I ask that you pray for Katie, Sam, and I as we attempt to navigate what our next step will be as a family.


Billy Roberts

Movie on the Lawn


Join us for our second movie on the lawn! Bring your lawn chair or blanket and your family for a fun night at the movies- al fresco style! 

We will have carnival games and other fun activities on the lawn beginning at 6:30pm. There will also be snacks and food available. The movie ("Moana") will start at 8:00! 

There is no charge for this event, but donations will be accepted to support Decatur Cooperative Ministries.


We also need a host of volunteers for the event! You can sign up for a volunteer slot here.

Help us Get the Word Out!

You can RSVP to the event on Facebook by clicking here. Afterward, share it with your friends!


Welcoming Our Neighbors - Interfaith Experience

At FBC Decatur, we value open dialogue and conversations with people who aren't like us. 

You and yours are warmly invited to gather together with neighbors from all walks of life and faith expressions for an afternoon of storytelling, music, community service, a panel discussion, “speed-faithing” and, of course, a pot-luck meal.  The gathering is offered free of charge and everyone is welcome.  Bring a favorite dish to share and a friend!

I See You
Welcoming Our Neighbors
A Decatur Interfaith Experience

Sunday, August 20, 2017, From 2:00-5:00pm
at ST. Thomas More Catholic Church
636 West Ponce de Leon Ave.
Decatur, GA 30030

Event Supported by:  Baha’i Community of Decatur; CAIR (Council on Islamic American Relations, Georgia Chapter); First Christian Church of Decatur; Gentle Spirit Christian Church; North Decatur Presbyterian Church; St. Thomas More Catholic Church; Sikh Study Circle; and more local communities of faith.

For more information please contact Pastor James Brewer-Calvert ( or 404-378-3621).


FBC Decatur Statement on Charlottesville

FBC Decatur Statement on Charlottesville

Statement on the Charlottesville Events
August 13, 2017

Genesis 1 says that all people are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28), the pinnacle of creation.

Genesis 4 teaches that we are our brothers’ keepers, and when human blood is shed it cries out from the ground to God.

Genesis 9 says that there must be an accounting whenever human beings harm or kill each other.

Psalm 8 says that human beings are just a little lower than the angels, cherished by God.

Luke 10 says that to inherit eternal life, we must love God and love people as ourselves, we must be neighbor to those around us.

Christian faith ought to be, and often has been, a very powerful force for human equality, for compassion, justice, love, and belief in the sacredness of every human life.

But especially since the days when European settlers came to the New World in the name of European Christian civilization, Christian faith very often has been distorted by an unholy religious-racial-civilizational pride.

European Christian settlers came to define themselves with the label “white” and to believe that they were by God’s design superior to other peoples, such as Africans and Native Americans (and others too, including Jews, who were objects of a longer hatred). They came to believe that they were free to subjugate, enslave, and often, kill these others, and free to believe and act as if others not like them (us) were inferior human beings.

Both European and American history are deeply marked by this ideology, which is best labeled “white” “Christian” supremacism. Recent decades of our history have been marked by powerful counter-pressures to repudiate this ideology in the name of a different vision, of equality, justice, and respect for all, of a multiracial society in which all are valued equally. I have spent much of my career attempting to advance this latter vision.

In Charlottesville yesterday, the forces of a resurgent white Christian supremacism converged to rally. They got what they wanted, national media attention and counter-protests by people representing the opposite agenda, some of whom were trained in peaceful nonviolence and others of whom were there to confront the protestors. Tensions ratcheted up and finally an assault by vehicle occurred with many casualties. Three people are dead, 34 injured.

I speak today to lament this hateful ideology, which is fundamentally contrary to Christian values but remains in our bloodstream for periodic resurgence. I lament yet another incident of ugly conflict, violence, and murder in our streets.

I declare that First Baptist Church Decatur utterly repudiates racism, and seeks to stand for biblical values of equality, justice, and respect for all. I pray that white supremacist Christian nationalism will be clearly repudiated and rejected by all responsible national leaders -- and by all Christian people, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace,

Rev. Dr. David P. Gushee