STONE MOUNTAIN, GA – If you take a look around the International House of Prayer in Atlanta, it may seem like your typical prayer meeting. But there’s something different about this group.
“Baptists, Methodists, non-denomination, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, it’s a big mix,” said Pastor Billy Humphrey, co-director of One Race.
Humphrey and preachers like him have thrown denomination aside and partnered together for One Race, a movement set on racial healing.
“We believe that God wants to change the testimony in the city of Atlanta, where racism and dead religion have kind of informed and influenced the city,” he said.
According to Humphrey, 125 pastors across racial lines have already said “count me in.”
Bishop Garland Hunt is one of them.
“More than ever, as opposed to our races coming together, now everyone is blaming each other,” said Hunt.
He believes now is the time for the church to lead.
“It’s not just political change or policy change,” Garland explained. “It’s a heart change and the only one that can fix the heart is Jesus Christ.”
The movement targets Millennials, but all are welcome. They meet every week, praying and fasting. Hunt says changes are already in motion.
“We’ve had meetings where mostly white pastors have come together. They begin to look around and they had pretty much all white groups. They said, ‘How can we make an effort to bring blacks in?’ ” recalled Hunt.
“Sometimes you have to make yourself do more than what’s comfortable. You have to make yourself a little uncomfortable,” he said.
Humphrey and Hunt are hoping that discomfort sparks a few friendships.
In fact, they want to spur 100,000 cross-cultural relationships over the next few months, all leading up to the ultimate day of prayer.
On August 25, the men of One Race will make the hike to the top of Stone Mountain in Georgia to pray for healing and reconciliation.
A hundred years ago, however, a different group of men mad a similar hike – but with a much darker purpose.
“From 1915 to 1960, the Ku Klux Klan would go to Stone Mountain and on top they would burn crosses and do their rituals. What we feel like is we want to change that testimony,” explained Humphrey.
Hunt and Humphrey agree it’s time for a new narrative for Stone mountain, Georgia and beyond.
“If the church doesn’t take its rightful place and step into that place of authority, set the narrative and deal with these issues, someone else will,” warned Humphrey.
“There are really a lot of voices out here. The press gives a voice. A lot of the activists are given voices. But the church has to be a prominent voice right now in the culture,” Hunt agreed.
They say it’s time for the church to be heard: one voice, one people – united together.