Racial reconciliation active in Mobile

On April 17, 1960, during a “Meet the Press” segment, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I think it’s one of the tragedies of our nation, one of the shameful tragedies, that 11 am Sunday morning one of the most, if not the most, separate hours in Christian America.

“I really think the Christian church should be integrated and any church that is against integration and has a separate body is against the spirit and teachings of Jesus Christ, and it is failing. to be a true testimony.

“But that’s something the church will have to do itself.”

Over 60 years later, segregation is still a problem – but Roy Hill, pastor of discipleship at Dayspring Baptist Church in Mobile and Chairman of The Pledge Group, is actively working to change that.

In December 2014, several people in Mobile started talking about the need for racial reconciliation. Although Black Lives Matter was gaining traction at the time, Hill recalls, there was no specific incident that brought the group together. They just realized that the racial division was becoming more and more prevalent and that the Body of Christ could do something about it.

Engagement group

The first three years of the Pledge Group meetings consisted of learning to “listen well and listen to things that we were not normally comfortable hearing. on both sides of the table, ”recalls Hill.

“Thank goodness in the middle of it he just showed up and took over. We kept trying to figure it out and we couldn’t. Suddenly we started to build meaningful relationships with each other across racial and faith lines.

“At the right time and under the direction of the Lord,” said Hill, “the first Shrink the Divide event was set up. [in 2018]. “

He noted that Robert Brown, the late pastor of New Christian Living Community in Mobile who sometimes co-preached with him, often reminded the group, “Guys, we have to stay our way. Our way is the gospel. The gospel is what unites us. The gospel is what will get us right. If we just let the gospel do what it’s supposed to do, what it will do, we can’t help but come together.

Reduce the fracture

The fourth Shrink the Divide event took place on October 3 at Church of the Redemption in Saraland, with several hundred participants. Various speakers stressed that everyone is made in the image of God and that all Christians are true brothers and sisters, with Christ as the great unifier.

“We had people come over from there and said, ‘We’re going to have lunch together next week and get to know each other,’” Hill said. “So thank goodness. This is what it was about.

A greater impact ‘

Not only has the Pledge Group made inroads in personal relations between races, but it has also had a bigger impact, including a few years ago when an African-American man was killed by a white policeman.

“It could have been an incredibly contentious time,” Hill recalls. “It felt like it was going to be.

“Some of the Pledge Group went to meet with the pastor about the funeral and how to focus on Christ. It ranged from “It will be a big televised funeral with a lot of different people standing up and talking” to “It will be a funeral where the only people allowed to speak are the pastor and the family.” We will focus on the gospel.

Hill said the funeral provided “an opportunity for Christians to do exactly what they should have done – encourage one another. I applaud this pastor who has taken a bold stand.

“There were people from out of town who wanted to speak at that funeral and he said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that. We will honor the memory of this young man. We will try to encourage and bless this family. We are going to talk about the gospel. And they did.

The pastor also decided that there would be no police presence. Hill recalled telling him, “It will be a memorial service. We will honor the Lord.

This spirit brought peace and healing to the situation, said Hill.

“Ultimately, how can I, as a Christian, look at someone else who claims a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and not see them as a brother and sister? [We must] to see oneself through the eyes of Christ. That’s what drives us in this, ”Hill said.

For more information on forming a Pledge Group, contact Hill at [email protected].

The resources the group has developed, including a video-guided small-group Bible study, are free through https://www.shrinkthedivide.com.

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