DALLAS — As protests over different causes continue across the country, a growing number of church leaders are finding themselves on the frontlines with their neighbors. Pastors are addressing social justice issues from the sanctuary to the streets.
“Throughout the history of the Black church, justice has been at its very core. What we are seeing today, is that there are incredibly a number of issues that are bringing even more attention to the injustices that continue to exist,” said Dr. Bryan Carter, senior pastor of Concord Church in Dallas.
Carter remembers the peaceful protests on July 7, 2016 in downtown Dallas, where hundreds of people joined demonstrators across the country to speak out against police use of force that lead to the death of two men that year. Tragically, the demonstration ended with a lone gunman killing five police officers.
Carter was among local faith leaders who lead marches after that tragedy, and he continues to lead social justice demonstrations and conversations.
Concord Church is hosting more than 1,000 faith leaders from across the country this week, for the 25th E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference. The topic of "Jesus and Justice" was one of the main points of focus on Wednesday.
“Probably the number one topic that is being addressed, today, is voter suppression. It is this continual assault upon the voting rights of people of color,” Pastor Carter explained.
Some pastors attending the conference said police brutality, health care, courts, education, housing, and COVID-19 are among social justice issues and causes more clergy members are stepping up to address.
“The preacher has to keep one foot in the sanctuary and one foot in the street, for the benefit of the street,” said Dr. Charlie Dates, senior pastor of Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago.
Organizers said the goal of the preaching conference is not only to train and share experiences, but also to encourage and equip faith leaders with tools that could help their churches and the greater community.
“For those who preach and proclaim, we’ve got to take a bolder, crisper, clearer stand where God is with justice and injustice, and let God handle the rest,” Dates added.