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Edward Slaughter and Rick Bennett, both youth pastors in Memphis, determined that not enough was being done among teens to erase racial discrimination and prejudice.

"The kids of this generation are being indoctrinated with racism all over again," said Bennett of the largely white Christ the Rock Church.

Slaughter, from the predominantly African-American Breath of Life Christian Center, along with Bennett and others have formed a new interracial network of youth pastors. Slaughter says focusing on overcoming racial divisions through church-based outreach is a "good investment in our youth." Both Slaughter and Bennett agree that government-mandated integration of schools and housing has done little to solve racism. Their new network designs programs—from lock-ins to work projects—to maximize the intermingling of black and white youth.

These efforts to dissolve racial barriers among youth were celebrated as a fresh example of racial reconciliation at the second Memphis meeting of the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) in October.

BEYOND 'FEEL-GOOD': Pentecostals have been groping their way through the thicket of racial issues in the two years since the interracial association formed (CT, Dec. 12, 1994, p. 58). However, one message rang clear at this year's gathering: It is time to move forward with the program.

And, according to Ithiel Clemmons, PCCNA chair, "The program is, number one, to put in place in every city that we can a reconciliation group that does more than simply have worship services together." Clemmons said church leaders must get beyond "feel-good" meetings to wrestling with the underlying issues of racism.

"There is need for teams of blacks and whites to go into prisons and to ...

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November 11, 1996

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