Ministers from around the nation promised a new mission of racial healing after a conference Thursday at the Potter’s House Church in Dallas.
The conference was co-sponsored by Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Potter’s House and Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Washington, D.C.
It came in the wake of racial tensions ignited last year by the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers in Missouri and New York.
The ministers said race is not the only issue.
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“We’ve got a class problem in America,” Bishop Jackson said. “We have poverty and then we have race. And it’s not just a black, brown, white problem. It is class, poverty and race.”
Former U.N. Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young attended the conference. Young is also an ordained minister and long-time civil rights leader.
“We've made progress,” Young said. “Legally racism is gone. But poverty is still with us. In fact, poverty is probably worse than it was when Dr. King was alive.”
The ministers said their mission will focus on education, economic development and criminal justice issues in community outreach from churches.
“Selma was 50 years ago,” Young said. “This is a new day, a new dynamic. And I think this gathering has come together to give a pastoral assessment. I was amazed how much agreement there was.”
Leaders of the group said churches can set an example of unity by welcoming all races in their congregations.
“The church really has a lot of the answers already operative,” Bishop Jackson said. “There are pioneers already doing work to address the complexities of our day.”