CHARLESTON, S.C., June 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Reverend Dr. Betty Deas Clark was appointed the first female pastor in the 200 year history of Mother Emanuel AME Church. Following the tragic shooting on June 17, 2015, she has been hailed as "America's Pastor." One year later, Clark is partnering with St. Michael's Episcopal Church and the Civilitas Group to work toward racial healing, reconciliation and equality for all. The Civilitas Group, a national coalition of pastors, university presidents, journalists, ministry leaders and others, will hold a National Service of Commemoration with Clark on June 17 at 4:00 p.m. EDT, to call upon churches nationwide to take a stand against racism and prejudice.
"Humanity has a moral responsibility to honor the legacy of the Mother Emanuel victims and survivors through a renewed commitment to move our nation forward by building and fostering relationships that close the gaps that divide us through the promotion of racial healing, reconciliation and equality for all," said Clark, who serves on the Board of Advisors for the Civilitas Group. "If we join together in common purpose, I am confident that we will solve the great challenge of our time."
In the days following the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, the Civilitas Group pledged to build bridges between the white Evangelical and African-American faith communities to bring racial unity in the Church. They have convened a series of consultations in major cities across the country, themed "After Charleston: Overcoming Evil With Good." These discussions arose from the realization that in far too many instances leaders from the African-American and majority white Christian communities do not know one another, resulting in their churches not being strategically connected. These discussions have also involved women and men from the Asian-American, Latino and Native American communities.
"In the days and weeks following the tragedy in Charleston, many in the white Evangelical community wanted to do something to fight the plague of racism in our country and churches. However, we soon realized that white Evangelical and African-American leaders did not even know each other," said Rev. Dr. Doug Birdsall, founder and president of The Civilitas Group. "For the past year, we have been working to build intentional friendships and relationships with the intent to end racism in our communities."
During the National Service of Commemoration, The Civilitas Group and Clark will call on churches to join in the reconciliation movement with the release of the "After Charleston Call to Action" plan, a document crafted and signed by leaders of national stature, and the "After Charleston Tool Kit for Local Church Engagement," providing resources and ideas to help churches across America engage more effectively in the work of building bridges of friendship and partnership to address the evils of racism in our society.
The Civilitas Group is also issuing a National Call to Prayer for Racial Reconciliation on Sunday, June 19. Churches across the nation are encouraged to incorporate Scripture readings, special prayers and other resources into their worship services that morning, which are available for free download at www.civilitasgroup.org.
Participants in the National Service of Commemoration will include Rev. Dr. Robert Michael Franklin, Jr., president emeritus of Morehouse College; Bishop Claude Alexander, pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte; Andy Crouch, executive editor of Christianity Today; Dr. Phil Ryken, president of Wheaton College; Dr. Jim Wallis, founder and president of The Sojourners Community; Dr. Wayne Gordon, president emeritus of the Christian Community Development Association; Filmmaker Art Hooker, president of the New Metropolitan and producer of "Unashamed World"; Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent for the Wesleyan Church; Dr. Shirley Mullen, president of Houghton College; Rev. Matthew Watley, executive minister of Reid Temple A.M.E. Church in Baltimore; Rev. Mark E. Whitlock, Jr., director of the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement at the University of Southern California; and other members of this growing new coalition of leaders.
Additional information about the service at Mother Emanuel AME Church can be found at www.civilitasgroup.org. To sign the After Charleston petition to commit to solidarity and personal leadership in regards to race in America, please visit http://aftercharleston.com/.
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SOURCE Civilitas Group