Church leaders, black and white, take action on racism

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Is the shocking and harsh image of man slowly dying under knee of a police officer finally the start of a true effort by American's to face our country's long history of racism?

And, if so, what happens when the demonstrations end?

At some North Carolina churches, leaders aren't waiting for the protests to end.

"There comes a time where in order to take a stand, first you have to take a seat," that's what Charlotte pastor Steven Furtick told his congregation on Sunday.

Furtick is the founder of Elevation Church, a mega-church with 20 locations in four southern states and Canada.

On Sunday, Furtick, who is white, sat down with another Elevation pastor, John Gray, who is black, to have a discussion about racism.

In the recorded sermon posted on YouTube, Gray says it's past time for Christians to speak up.

"In this season, silence is agreement. I don't need you to quietly tell me you're praying, I need you to publicly say this wrong," Gray said.

A similar conversation took place a couple of days later on Facebook Live in Wake County.

Two young pastors of Elevation Churches in Raleigh and Morrisville also sat down to talk about race.

Claude Thomas, who is black and a pastor at Elevation Morrisville, echoed the feelings of many minorities across the country saying, "I'm tired. I'm exhausted. Not physically exhausted. I'm just drained."

But he said he's cautiously hopeful adding, "I honestly believe in my heart of hearts that the church are the ones that are going to lead this charge."

Elevation is proud of its diverse congregations.

But the pastor of Elevation Raleigh, who is white, knows there will be no progress against racism unless white people embrace the need for action.

Preston Stack says that time is now.

"When you get exposed racism, when you get exposed to white privilege, when you get exposed and educated that this is not something that just came up in the past few weeks or months, but this has been going on for centuries, you can't just go back to your norm," he said in a Skype interview with ABC11.

He also said he will start the effort in his own home by teaching his young sons about acceptance.

"The white community has a part to play. This is not just on our African-American community to continue to be able to expose us, to educate us. It's on the white community as well not only to be educated on the subject matter but to also speak up and do something about it."

Stack says it's what Jesus would do and wonders if you can do it, too.
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