Will the Church Lead Racial Reconciliation?

With daily media reports of racial and cultural conflicts around the world and here at home, it is well worth noting a recent story about a multiracial group of clergy that has begun work on racial reconciliation in America. It took place with a meeting at the Potter’s House, ministry headquarters of Bishop T.D. Jakes in Dallas.

Rev. Bernice King and Pastor James Robeson

Rev. Bernice King and evangelist James Robison share a moment of prayer during pastoral conference on racial reconciliation.

On Jan. 15, the actual birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., pastors from around the country convened in Dallas to discuss how the church must lead to quell racial tensions. What a daunting mission. But, if any institution could do it, it would be the church.

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More than a hundred ministers are involved, and their diverse backgrounds denotes and requires cooperation. They include the Rev. Bernice King, Dr. King’s daughter and CEO of the King Center in Atlanta; Bishop Vashti McKenzie, the first woman to serve as bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal church; evangelist James Robison, co-host of the television show Life Today; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; the Rev. Andrew Young, a civil rights icon who was the first black mayor of Atlanta; Bishop Jakes, pastor of the 30,000-member Potter’s House; and Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., who first envisioned the gathering. Bishop Jackson said the church, government and business communities working together would be keys to their strategy.

At the beginning of 2015, following a year of great unrest between races and cultures, the conference certainly appears timely. As they spoke to reporters at a news conference that was aired live, the Christian leaders beamed with hope. And though their backgrounds and even ministry styles and venues may be vastly different, they seemed to agree on several key points, as expressed in the words of Bernice King:

This was a wonderful beginning of the church coming together across a lot of lines. … The church’s role and responsibility is always to be on the ground and connected to and leading, in my personal opinion, on perhaps every issue in our nation. I would like to say that when the church is not involved, we make baby steps.”

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Bishop Jakes also expressed the group’s collective hope by saying they aim to “influence the national conversation around ideas and solutions, rather than pain and frustrations. … I believe the recent headlines and all the turmoil and all the unrest, the anger and the hostility, that some of the responsibility must rest on us.”

Photo: Courtesy of T.D. Jakes Ministries

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