Health & Spirit

Column: How black, white ministers are working to bridge racial divide

Gracie Bonds Staples, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Religious News

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." -- 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV

Days after President Donald Trump's Twitter tantrum a couple of weeks ago, instructing four Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their home countries, Bishop Garland Hunt, Billy Humphrey, Joshua Clemons and Hazen Stevens met me to talk about their vision for America.

They were the last of nearly a dozen historians and religious leaders I'd spoken to over the past few months, seeking an answer to the growing racial divide in the country. Surprisingly, they all agreed that because the church is to blame for racism in the first place, it is uniquely equipped to name the sin, to call for repentance, and to bring about reconciliation.

I want to leave you with at least one concrete thing each of us can do to help turn the tide once and for all.

For Hunt, Humphrey, Stevens and Clemons, the short answer can be found in Jesus' summary of the Law -- "love thy neighbor as thyself."

Without that love, there will be no "beloved" community, no sustained peace and harmony, and we will continue to stray from the path of justice for all.


But they are hopeful.

And so in a conference room on the campus of Lawrenceville's International House of Prayer, the men talked about the beginning of OneRace, co-founded in 2016 by Hunt and Humphrey in the wake of a growing number of police shootings of unarmed black men and the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement.

Up until that moment, Humphrey, who is white, and Hunt, who is black, had been working separately to facilitate racial healing in their communities. Humphrey, director of the International House of Prayer, had been instrumental in helping build Victory Church, one of the nation's largest multicultural churches, where he was youth pastor. And Hunt, senior pastor at the Father's House in Peachtree Corners, was advocating for racial healing; he was a former co-host with a white pastor of "The Gospel in Black and White" television program and founder of Pastors for Reconciliation and Revival in Raleigh, N.C.

They met in the early '90s and began to forge a friendship born of Christian brotherhood and a mutual respect.


swipe to next page


blog comments powered by Disqus