Racial Reconciliation Emphasis Intensified

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Promise Keepers (PK) has emphasized racial reconciliation since its inception in 1991, but now, in an executive staff reorganization, reconciliation has become an integral part of the organization's structure.

PK's new reconciliation division is appointing a national strategic manager for each major racial group in an effort to attract a more diverse constituency. At the helm of the department is African-American Raleigh Washington, who will retain his post as senior pastor of Chicago's Rock of Our Salvation Evangelical Free Church, flying from pk headquarters in Denver to preach two or three times a month.

Among PK's 437-member staff, 30 percent are minorities: 16 percent black, 13 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent Native American. Less than 1 percent are Asian. "These numbers are unparalleled among evangelical organizations," according to Washington.

The attempt to make the ethnic makeup of PK better resemble that of the nation has been deliberate.

"The old saying is 'We'd like to hire more minorities, but it's hard to find anyone qualified,'" says Steve Chavis, pk director of communication. "What little credibility that saying had before, we've been able to blast through."

Bill McCartney, founder of the organization, says a top priority also is to translate the organization's diversity to its stadium gatherings. He says at least 25 percent of last summer's New York gathering were African American, but in Memphis, where blacks make up 52 percent of the population, nearly all in attendance were white. In 1996 rallies, 1,090,000 men attended 22 stadium events.

The reconciliation division has not finalized its mission statement and responsibilities, but already it is developing a workbook and educational tools. The department is ...

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