Two Dallas pastors, one black and one white, say it is time for the nation to talk about race in the wake of violent protests involving white supremacists in Virginia.
Pastor Jeff Warren of Park Cities Baptist Church and Pastor Bryan Carter of Concord Church have been preaching racial reconciliation and leading people of different races into conversations. Both were appalled at what they saw over the weekend.
“Shock,” Warren said. “In some ways, I find it interesting that this group in Charlottesville feels emboldened at this time.”
Carter called the deadly attack and blatant show of racism disheartening.
“Many of us would think we are further along by now, but tragically we still have this ugly head that continues to surface,” Carter said.
Carter and Warren have been preaching racial reconciliation across Dallas for the past several years. They have swapped pulpits and preached to each other's congregations, with their example followed by at least 100 other North Texas congregations.
“But it’s the white congregations, it’s the white population, if you will, that needs to hear the message,” Warren said.
Warren tweeted on Saturday, challenging white pastors not to be silent about what he called hate speech in Charlottesville. Warren said it was Martin Luther King's letter from a Birmingham jail that opened his eyes.
“When I read that and realized he's calling out white moderates. He called them out. He said the problem’s not the KKK in our day, it’s not the white supremacists as much as it is the white leaders -- the moderates who will not take a stand, not step into that space and speak boldly into it,” Warren said.
Carter said his theology shapes who he is and how he acts.
“Before I am anything else, I am first of all Christian. If I’m Christian, that means I value everyone that racism and Christianity don’t coexist,” Carter said.
The pastors say that love for all can only evolve out of uncomfortable conversations about race and people’s differences.
“We need to continue to get to know each other. With that comes empathy -- empathy and understanding. I believe with that can come love and respect,” Warren said.