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. ...1
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