Fort Worth

White Pastor of Black Church Shares Message of Peace at 1st In-Person Service in Weeks

Sunday's service was the first to be held in person at Harvey Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth since coronavirus-related restrictions were implemented.

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One Fort Worth pastor holds a unique position: he's a white pastor who leads a black congregation. 

Jack Teeler has been in the position for nearly a year at Harvey Avenue Baptist Church.

Sunday, church members gathered together for the first time in months to hear his message of peace.

Teeler energized the congregation at the first in-person service since the coronavirus pandemic started.

As church members practiced social distancing inside the church, he hoped the shared plea for an end to racial injustice brings people closer. 

“We will not stand for social injustice. We will not allow police officers, who took a vow to protect and serve, to kill our men and women,” Teeler said.

His position allows him to straddle the racial divide, but his hopes and fears are universal.

“My wife is African-American. My son is African-American. And I have the same heartfelt concerns every night when I lay down. 'Will my son be OK when he gets up in the morning and heads off to work?'” Teeler said.

George Floyd’s death fueled protests and outrage in Dallas, while marches gave way to looting and violence after nightfall.

“There is no take back. This is no, ‘Oops, I’m sorry.’ This was a modern day lynching,” Teeler said.

He understands the frustration, but he condemned the violence.

“There are people now suffering because of the looting, because of the fires, becausec of all this. We got to stand up for right. Looting is not right,” Teeler said.

Rev. Robert Rogers led Harvey Avenue Baptist Church for 53 years.

Following Rogers' death, deacons asked Teeler to preach for one Sunday service, and they liked his style.

Teeler said his church will host a prayer meeting with all faith leaders in Fort Worth Wednesday at 6 pm. 

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