Pastor Leonce Crump chose over three years ago to launch Renovation Church in Atlanta on the weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Why? Because the dream of racial equality and brotherhood King spoke about 50 years prior had yet to be fully realized, even in a city that was a bedrock of the civil rights movement.
The civil rights movement in Atlanta started long before King linked arms with other locals to march through town demand justice. Organized acts of resistance by African Americans against segregation, economic inequity, and racial violence in Atlanta go back to the late 19th century.
But it is King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech that reminds Americans every year that there is still work to be done in society, and even in our churches, when it comes to celebrating diversity and living in true brotherhood.
“We stressed from the very beginning that we’re going to be the outworking of that grand dream that Dr. King had for all people, all God’s children. To live in community together, to understand one another, to do life together, to move beyond ‘equality’ into actual relationship and natural rhythms,” explained Pastor Crump.
“That’s what our church has been founded on, especially in light of the civil rights movement in Atlanta. Since then, God has been kind enough to let us see that dream come to fruition.”
Renovation Church, originally founded by Crump in his home with just three people, today is home to about 800 members, who are mostly young and ethnically diverse. The community currently gathers for worship on Sundays at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in downtown Atlanta. Crump, an African American, is 33 years old, married and the father of two girls.
“On any given weekend, we’re about 55 percent Anglo, about 35-40 percent African American and 10-15 percent everything else, that is mixed-race, Filipino, Chinese, Indian, Hispanic, really all across the board. So we really do have a beautiful representation of God’s creative genius in our congregation,” said Crump.
Crump, a Louisiana native and former lukewarm Catholic, shared that although God “radically invaded my life right before I turned 16” and eventually impressed upon him a call to enter the ministry, he spent the next few years focusing on wrestling (he is an Oklahoma Sooner All-American), a brief NFL career (with the New Orleans Saints) and “trying out law school” (he holds a Master’s in criminal justice).
When God’s call to the ministry became more “persistent,” and “His draw more loud and pervasive in every single aspect of my life,” Crump finally relented. He served as a youth pastor in three churches before feeling drawn in 2006 to Atlanta, where he and his wife moved two years later.
He felt compelled to see Dr. King’s dreams realized because the condition of the city where the civil rights giant was born, he soon learned, aches for it.
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SOURCE: The Christian Post