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Two Pastors Living in the Deep South Say They Have the Answer to Racsm in America

Two Pastors Living in the Deep South Say They Have the Answer to Racsm in America Read Transcript


The headlines online and on TV recently

have been full of the violent scenes in Charlottesville,

Virginia after an attack on people

protesting a white supremacist rally there.

However two pastors from Montgomery, Alabama

want to tell a different story, a story of racial unity.

They are pastors Alan Cross and Terrance Jones.

They held a prayer walk in downtown Montgomery--

the heart of the modern day civil rights

movement-- to call on God for racial unity and healing

in America.

Gentlemen, thanks so much for your time.

Thank you.

Thank you, good to be with you.

Pastors, first of all, your thoughts.

Your reactions to Charlottesville

and the nation's reaction to what happened there.

Well, we were watching over the weekend

like everyone else was.

And my first response was just one of horror.

Seeing what was happening on Friday night with the torch

march and hearing the chants of blood and soil and things

that I knew were associated with Nazism.

And just a really violent imagery

that we fought against as a nation in the past and we've

also dealt with here in the South.

Especially being from Montgomery,

living in Montgomery and it being the birthplace

of the civil rights movement, knowing our history as well.

And I was just very disturbed as a follower of Christ

for what I was seeing, actually sickened to my stomach over it.

And I would say for me, probably a sense of urgency.

It seems over the last few years we've

had flair-ups that have risen above the surface

to let us know that racism and partiality is

a real issue in our country.

For so many years for whatever reason,

it seemed to have flown under the radar in the minds of most

people.

But with all these recent flair-ups,

the sense of urgency for the church

to stand up and be what God has called us to be

seems unavoidable at this point.

And so we're just trying to figure out by His grace

how we might not only pray and talk and post things

on social media, but how we might act.

It really does seem like we're living in a unique moment.

Terrance, tell us your experience with racism.

Well I grew up in south Georgia,

and a little small town.

And for me I just remember fighting a lot

as a younger individual, just people

calling me the n-word and things like that.

I also grew up in a high school where

I was the starting quarterback of the high school,

and the vast majority of the African Americans in my town

sat on the visitor's side, which was a carry-over from when

the schools were integrated.

The fan base never integrated on the same side.

So I just remember being the starting quarterback

of the number one ranked school in the state of Georgia

and my parents sitting at every home game on the visitor's

side.

So different things like that.

I wouldn't have called myself angry about racism

though, until my first year at Tuskegee University,

where I had individual--

my experience at Tuskegee was great,

but I remember one person really telling me things and pointing

out things that really just made me more and more angry.

So I would say at 19 I was furious with everybody

that was white and just ready to be completely done away

with them.

So that I would have been my experience.

Wow.

Well thank you for sharing that.

Tell us, the two of you, about your friendship

and why your brotherhood is important now, more than ever.

Yeah.

Terrance and I became friends a few years ago--

we pastor here in Montgomery together.

And Terrance did come to Christ after that and God changed

his heart.

And then he goes into training, and he goes in the ministry,

and he comes to Montgomery and we

were able to meet at that point and just continue

to build a relationship.

We've spoken together at different places

and so Sunday morning I was getting ready to go to church.

And I texted Terrance and I was saying

how much I'd like to be with his church

this morning, that morning and worship with them.

And so I just started texting back and forth

and decided that the two of us would meet together on Monday

evening at the Court Square Foundation downtown, which

used to be one of the largest slave markets in the South

before the Civil War on Dexter Avenue.

And we would meet there and we would pray.

We'd invite some people to come, whoever wanted to come

could join us and we would see what God would do with that.

And so Terrance's idea was to walk up

Dexter Avenue, which was the same path that the Southern

Montgomery marchers walked in 1965 led by Dr. King,

and where Rosa Parks got on the bus

to start the Montgomery bus boycott.

So we decided to do that, we invited people to come,

and we had quite a few people come and join us.

I understand that you had that you had thousands

of people participating in this prayer walk online, on Facebook

as well.

How did you see the Lord using that incredible event

in that incredible historic place?

Well I just think there's a real resurgence of people

wanting to see racial reconciliation

and racial solidarity in our country.

One of the other ways me and Alan met was actually

a group of ladies started a group in our community

called Be the Bridge where they were discussing racial issues.

And the guys, we were trailing behind them

but we eventually started a group

through one of our friends, and so

that's how we connected there.

But I just think we've just got to do a much better job.

You know, it seems that people online literally

from all over the world just saw a small glimpse of hope.

Most of the scenes and most of the footage

is negative things, negative responses.

And God just gave us the opportunity

to be a light, to say, you know what?

As angry and frustrated as we are,

the Gospel does dictate how we respond to these things

and there is still hope no matter

how awful things may appear.

So that's what the message was and it

was people from New Zealand, Florida, California,

all over the place, which I had no idea that many people would

watch, but we're grateful.

And our hope is that people will be full of hope

not in us, but in Christ.

Well I think a lot of people do take hope in the friendship

that the two of you have as well.

Of course, Christ is our ultimate hope.

Going forward what are you hoping to see, particularly

when it comes to the church and the role

it can play in society right now in regards

to this really tough issue?

Right.

Well obviously we're unified in Christ,

and the very first thing that has to happen

is that Christians need to lay their lives down before Jesus.

Instead of seeing Jesus as a way to have a nice, safe, healthy,

protected lives, that we would lay our lives down and not

try to defend our way of life over and above others,

but actually go to people in sacrificial love.

That's what the cross enables us and calls us to do.

And so that's my prayer for the church and America,

we stop trying to protect ourselves and live

in fear of other people.

We see this across racial lines, we see this with immigrants

or the fear of immigrants and refugees,

and just anger that grows that someone different might

move into my community or someone

might take something away from me.

And Jesus came that we would have abundant life

and we give that life away.

It seems like we have so much in reverse right now,

and I think that's a big part of our problem.

Our hope is that we would be able to point

to Jesus on the cross where he gave his life for everyone,

and that we would do the same.

And then I think healing is going to come from that.

But if the church doesn't step up and be what the church is

supposed to be, everything else we're talking about

is just a waste of time.

For me, I've had the privilege of pastoring

and being a part of a multicultural church

for six years now.

And my prayer for the church at large

is that we will believe the whole Gospel.

I mean, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that he gave his life

and shed his blood so that men and women can

be reconciled to God, they could have a relationship with God.

Ephesians 2 also tells us that Christ died and his blood also

worked to tear down every dividing wall of hostility that

is between us.

So when I walk in church on a Sunday morning--

our church is not perfect, we have plenty of flaws--

but when I see military personnel and homeless people,

when I see middle class families of both colors, when

I see people from the suburbs and people from the inner city,

I'm encouraged.

And when we face these tragedies and these upheavals

and these glimpses of how divided our country is,

it is so refreshing to be able to worship

with people on Sunday morning that is at least attempting

to be a family.

And so when I look at Revelations

and the Bible tells us that from every tone, tribe,

and nation, we will be gathered together

with one goal of worshipping God,

I say if that's the end game we need to be doing everything

in our power now to make sure that our culture,

make sure our race, how much money

we have is not continually dividing us.

Because that's not what Jesus died for.

He died for one church.

He died for one church.

And so we need to do a much better job of being unified

and stop making excuses for why that's not possible.

Because the blood of Jesus can accomplish anything--

unity is nothing for him to accomplish.

We just have to remove ourselves and submit to what he's already

done on the cross.

Really beautiful.

Pastors Alan Cross and Terrance Jones, we are about out of time

but we would like to close in prayer.

Do you both mind closing us in prayer?

Oh let's pray.

Dear Lord, thank you so much for this day.

Thank you for this opportunity and we just pray

that your church all over the world

will be encouraged, that you would do what only you can do,

bring unity.

I'm thankful for Jesus and his prayer in John 17,

that we will be one as he was one with the father.

So as God's experience as a trinitarian oneness with

the Holy Spirit and Jesus, Lord may your church experience

a unity that cannot be divided by culture or worship music

or how much money we have, but that we would truly be

the people that you called us to be.

Thank you so much for the Gospel and how you have already torn

down the walls of hostility.

And it is our prayer that we will follow

in what you have already done.

And Lord I just ask you would use the cross in our lives

so God that we would cling to you without ourselves

and live for you.

That we would love others sacrificially,

Lord the way that you love us no matter who they are.

No matter what color, or what race or ethnicity,

or where they're from, God that we

would go to them with the love of Jesus like you came to us.

Lord, help us to tell a better story, the Gospel story.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Pastor Alan and Pastor Terrance,

thank you so much for your prayer,

for your time here today, and for the work

that you are doing.

Thank you.

Thank you very much.

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