WATCH: Despite Friction, Dr. Frederick Haynes Confident Predominantly Black Churches Will Continue to Use Faith to Pursue Social Justice

Since the time of slavery, faith and social justice have been woven into the fabric of black churches in America.

“On one level we are spiritually nurturing and saving souls, but on the other level we have the responsibility to speak truth to power,” said Frederick Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church in Oak Cliff.

You can often find Haynes preaching scripture and a bit of public policy from his pulpit. His congregation of nearly 9,000 families includes socially active people of faith who turn to prayer and protest to drive change.

“My own sense of what a pastor, what a preacher, is supposed to do goes back to scripture, first. Secondly, I’m a black person, I’m a black man. I’m a black preacher…with a ministry that dares to move beyond worship on Sunday to impact what’s going on by way of the structures and the systems that mess with people during the week.”

For 34 years as the senior pastor at Friendship West Haynes has seen children grow into adults in a city that is heavily segregated. Data from the city of Dallas shows that poverty disproportionately impacts minority communities in Dallas.

Haynes calls addiction, crime, and mental illnesses plaguing Dallas’ minority communities wolves chasing his flock. So he fights them where that evil thrives – in the streets. His faith demands it.

“I have never divorced Jesus from justice. My theology says faith without works is dead. My theology says that God is concerned about justice for the oppressed. Jesus did not confine his ministry to sanctuary. How can I say I’m following him and I’m spending all my time in the sanctuary and I’m never out in the street?” he asked.

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Cory Smith