Scott Roley began his career as a musician in the Christian recording industry. But experiences as a kid attending a Martin Luther King Jr. speech and meeting John F. Kennedy haunted him with a sense of racial inequality. Roley left his music career and began working with the poor in Tennessee. His book, God's Neighborhood: A Hopeful Journey in Racial Reconciliation & Community Renewal, was written with James Isaac Elliott, with a foreword by his friend Michael Card.

You started Franklin Community Ministries in Franklin, Tennessee, and you were helping a lot of people. But you started the ministry without talking to Denny Denson, an African American pastor in Franklin. What happened with Denny Denson and what did you learn about what it means to be involved in racial reconciliation and community renewal?

What happens with most of us is that we want minority friendships. People will say to me, how do I really get involved? And I say, it's real simple, it basically costs you your life. What it really means is, you're willing to give yourself away to a person who's very different.

The best thing I could have done was to go to First Missionary Baptist Church here in Franklin. But instead of going up to the door, knocking, introducing myself, and spending time with him relating, I would go past the church. We would do these wonderful things among the poor in his neighborhood, but I never once asked his advice or asked for his help. Repentance came through another brother who suggested that perhaps Denny was not so impressed with me and the ministry as I hoped, and said that he was actually saddened by my inability to love. It was very powerful.

That was Hewitt Sawyer, he's another African American brother. I got up from where ...

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The Dick Staub Interview
Dick Staub was host of a eponymous daily radio show on Seattle's KGNW and is the author of Too Christian, Too Pagan and The Culturally Savvy Christian. He currently runs The Kindlings, an effort to rekindle the creative, intellectual, and spiritual legacy of Christians in culture. His interviews appeared weekly on our site from 2002 to 2004.
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