Dallas pastors hosted a “Together We Stand” community prayer service on July 8, 2016 at Concord Church. This service included pastors of all races leading the community in prayer, scripture reading and reflections.
…divided we fall, less we heed and obey the call.
A theme of hope resonated at a grand gathering in the heart of South Oak Cliff at Concord Church in Dallas, Texas. This urgent call to prayer came on the heels of the senseless and horrible murders of 5 police officers who were serving to protect a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas. It was the coming together of people looking for something to hold onto after the staggering affects of recent violence in our nation and in this very place that we call home. Some came to pray and to be prayed for. Some came to hear a word of encouragement. While others felt a sense of urgency to be a part of something good in a world filled with so much that is bad. We came to stand together on the side of love, declaring to a spirit of hatred that it will not win!
The praise team entered the stage, a diverse group of Black, Brown and White men and women lifting their voices to the Lord in perfect harmony. Guest recording artists, Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann made a surprise appearance joining our own Gaye Arbuckle in an amazing tribute of soothing songs and hymns to heal our heavy hearts. The congregation stood to their feet with resounding shouts of praise, seemingly anxious to dive deep into worship like a pool of cool water to escape the heat of the earth. As I looked across the sea of people, it looked like heaven – men, women, sons and daughters of different races all seeking the same God.
Pastor Bryan Carter, opened in prayer saying, “Father God we run to you! We are living in difficult days, where no one feels safe.” But he reminded us that when fear tries to take hold of us, we must look to our faith. The hope of our community, our cities, and our world is in the church; and we must do the work that God has charged us to do.
Rev. Freddie Haynes of Friendship West Baptist Church took the podium saying, “Behold how good and pleasant it is to unite ourselves together. Unity. We will not experience it until we stop devaluing each other’s pain.” We buckled up and held onto our seats as Dr. Haynes began to flow, reminding us that, “It is in our DNA to pull together in times like these. When things are at their worst, we are at our best. Feed your neighbor, when you cannot feed yourself.”
Rev. George Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church, pressed the pause button to allow us to pay attention to our grief. He said, “Sometimes words fail, but there is a place where we can find unfailing words.” He took us to the Word of God reading Lamentations 3, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Dr. Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship took us on the football field to illustrate how we sometimes want to throw a challenge flag on God as if he missed something. “How can you throw a flag on a perfect God? We ask God, where were you when the police were in harms way? Just as Martha said to Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Where were you? When our pain and God’s promises don’t appear to match up! When our grief contradicts with God’s Word, this is not a time for logic. This is a time for obedience. We must wait in Dallas for what God has for Dallas.” There were ministers present from all across the metroplex.
Among them Rev. Todd Wagner of Watermark Church expressed how he came to understand the meaning of Black Lives Matter as it speaks for those whose voices are not heard like the silent voice of an unborn baby – speaking out against abortion – crying out for life from its mother’s womb.
Rev. Ben Dailey challenged us all to shine the Light of Jesus in the darkness of the night. “The great gospel of Christ – we’re going public with this!” With the house lights turned down and the flashlights turned on our cell phones, Rev. Dailey shouted, “NOW SHINE!” And the dark sanctuary was again filled with light.
Rev. Oscar Castillo reminded us that, “We are an army on the move. The strategy of God is love and his army is known by its love for all people. Put on the armor of God. Be encouraged grieving warriors that our Commander and Chief has got this! God’s got this!”
Rev. Jeff Warren of Park Cities boldly stated that, “anger is an appropriate emotion. Don’t calm down. Be angry but do not sin! Racism is America’s original sin. Grieving, healing and work is work! Work shows up as love. White privilege was given by God so that we might raise up in love and empower others and bring about equality in our city and in our nation. Dallas is ready for a better tomorrow and that is why we came. Now we must stop talking and start doing the work.” An offering was taken for the families of the five police officers who were slain. May The Lord bless the city of Dallas, all those who have lost loved ones at the hands of hatred, and may God bless America.
Annotated by: Marilyn Bradford and Vanecia Johnson
SOURCE: Concord Church Facebook