Guest / Limited Access /
Can Sanford Pastors' Success Work in Other Cities?
Image: Scott Olson / Getty
A Sanford prayer vigil, days after George Zimmerman was acquitted.

A diverse group of 40 pastors gathered in a Detroit hotel today to hear a remarkable tale: how the pastors of Sanford, Florida, spared their city from the racially charged protests that erupted nationwide last month after a jury acquitted George Zimmerman of murdering Trayvon Martin.

Sanford could have understandably been the epicenter of outrage over the controversial July verdict, which inspired significant protests—some marred by vandalism and violence—from New York to Los Angeles. Instead, this commuter suburb of Orlando weathered the aftermath so successfully that its pastors are now on a mission to spread the progress they've made toward calm and reconciliation to urban centers nationwide.

Already on the list after Detroit: Toledo, Charlotte, New York, Denver, and Minneapolis.

"The timing is absolutely right for this. There is no question about it," said Derrick Gay, pastor of Sanford's Dominion International Church and an organizer of the tour. "We as the church have been given, according to 2 Corinthians 5, the ministry of reconciliation. There's no other institution on earth that has been given this authority—not the government, not the banks, not the education system that we have."

The collaboration, in which pastors across racial, ethnic, and denominational lines meet to eat, pray, and candidly air racial concerns, is even more notable in a city with the historical distinction of being where Jackie Robinson was ousted from minor-league baseball training in 1946.

Leading the charge is Sanford Pastors Connecting (SPC), the interracial, cross-denominational group first organized by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to help the city of Sanford ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueHow Can Churches Best Support Parents Who Adopt from Overseas?
Subscriber Access Only How Can Churches Best Support Parents Who Adopt from Overseas?
There are no easy formulas. Three views.
RecommendedWhy Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
Why Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
In the face of a candidate’s antics, ‘America’s Pastor’ speaks out.
TrendingWho’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
Who’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
The Republican candidate finally names his campaign’s evangelical connections.
Editor's PickSupreme Court: Texas Can't Keep Women from Abortion Clinics
Supreme Court: Texas Can't Keep Women from Abortion Clinics
Ruling to reverse restrictions interrupts years of pro-life advances on the state level.
Christianity Today
Can Sanford Pastors' Success Work in Other Cities?
hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.