Episode: Can the Church Lead on Race Relations? Atlanta Christians Think So.

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Can the Church Lead on Race Relations? Atlanta Christians Think So.

Transcribed highlights of the show can be found in our episode summaries.

Next week, we’ll remember the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr, who died 52 years ago this year. It’s also, of course, a time to reflect on the state of race relations within the church.

One of those efforts has been the OneRace Movement, a group that has brought more than 500 Atlanta-area pastors of all ethnic and racial backgrounds together in the name of reconciliation and revival. In 2018, the movement hosted a worship service at Stone Mountain, the largest tourist attraction in the state of Georgia—and also where confederate heroes Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson are etched in granite.

Why host an event meant to promote strengthening race relations at such a polemic site?

“It's a place with a dark history, but also present cultural significance,” said Hazen Stephens, the co-director of OneRace. “...Biblically, whenever reformers would come in, the first thing that they would do is they would go to the high place and they would remove the Asherah poles and they would take down the idols. And we felt like what we were doing at Stone Mountain as we were calling church leaders to go to a place where spiritually an idol was erected over a 100 years ago, and to tear down that idol and say, this is not what our city stands for anymore.”

Learning this type of history is part of OneRace’s model: Know the story. Own the story. Change the story. This knowledge is crucial for white Christians trying to gain credibility from Christians of color when they enter into these conversations, says co-director Josh Clemons.

“If I were going to say something to the white church, I would say get invested in the story. It's time to listen,” he said. “It's time to hear from African American brothers and sisters. It's time to hear from Hispanic brothers and sisters. It's time to hear from Asian brothers and sisters. And how the story of race and the effects of race has impacted them. And, and then secondly, to be invested in that history so that we can own and ultimately change the story for generations to come.”

Stephens and fellow co-director Josh Clemons joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and CEO and president Tim Dalrymple to discuss the name of the initiative, how they’ve tried to make their day on Stone Mountain more than a “mountaintop experience,” and how the movement has also encouraged Christians from different denominations to partner together. 

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