Dallas Church Leaders Hold Mass Meeting to Forge Plan Toward Greater Unity and Racial Reconciliation After Tragic Shootings

File Photo/Staff In this file photo, the Rev. Joe Clifford presents Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings with a framed drawing of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, which was the site of a meeting Thursday between worship leaders and community organizers. Clifford was one of the organizers of the meeting, which was scheduled in the wake of last week's fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas.
File Photo/Staff
In this file photo, the Rev. Joe Clifford presents Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings with a framed drawing of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, which was the site of a meeting Thursday between worship leaders and community organizers. Clifford was one of the organizers of the meeting, which was scheduled in the wake of last week’s fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas.

More than 120 members of the clergy and religious organizations throughout North Texas gathered Thursday to forge a plan toward greater unity and racial reconciliation in response to last week’s tragedy. 

“Bottom line, there’s a real wound being exposed in our nation, in our city and in black America,” said Michael Mauldin, senior associate pastor of Upper Room Dallas, a church in the Design District made up of a diverse population of mostly single adults.

“For the most part, we’re still trying to absorb what happened,” said Mauldin, referring to last week’s shooting deaths of five police officers in downtown Dallas and the shooting deaths of two black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota.

“There was a hope that we can break down denominational lines, racial lines, and make sure as many voices as possible are heard,” he said.

The meeting, at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, was organized by area clergy, including the Rev. Joe Clifford, pastor of First Presbyterian. The meeting was closed to reporters, but several pastors shared their thoughts afterward.

“I thought it was an important step in the right direction,” Clifford said. “There are some folks who have been walking in this direction for a while now, and I thought it was important to share their message and how we go about erasing the lines that divide us.”

Clifford described the meeting as the first of its kind. “I’ve been in a room with some of these people before, but this is the first time I’ve been in a room with all of them,” Clifford said.

Several attendees spoke, including the Rev. Bryan Carter, senior pastor of the predominantly black Concord Church in Dallas; Todd Wagner, senior pastor of Watermark Community Church; the Rev. Michael Waters, senior pastor of Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dallas; and Bishop Claude Alexander Jr. of The Park Church in Charlotte, N.C.

Alexander traveled to the event to share how his city is still healing from police shootings nearly two decades ago.

“They’ve been working on that for 19 years,” Clifford said. “It’s a marathon. It’s more than a long journey, and it takes a real commitment.”

The standing-room-only crowd included mostly Christian and a few Jewish worship leaders. “This meeting was predominantly Christian, but it’s a multi-faith effort,” Clifford said. “We welcome all of them, and we need all of them.”

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SOURCE: The Dallas Morning News