By Maina Mwaura
Two years ago, Nashville, Tennessee, area pastors Mike Glenn and Joseph Walker began an unlikely friendship.
“Bishop Walker is the guru on social media issues,” says Glenn. “So I decided to call him up to ask questions and get his advice on the matter, and from there we became friends.”
Glenn is the pastor Brentwood Baptist Church, a majority white congregation, and Walker leads Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a majority African-American congregation.
They recently brought their congregations together for a panel discussion on racial unity—something they both say is tough, but achievable. During the panel, Glenn and Walker outlined these three steps to get there.
1. Develop relationships.
“The first step pastors should take in starting relationships with other pastors from a different race is to first go to lunch to get to know one another,” Glenn recommends. “From the moment we sat down for lunch, we discussed everything from church life, sports, to politics.”
Although the relationship started off with Glenn wanting to know more about social media tips, it grew to something much deeper—and their wives began to talk regularly with one another.
Eventually their friendship turned into a gospel partnership—not only among them as individuals, but by bringing their churches together for events like the panel discussion where they explored the issue of racial unity together.
“To whom much is given, much is required,” says Walker. “The church is the central most important piece to healing and solving racism.”
Glenn and Walker recall the first time their congregations came together. It wasn’t a worship service (although they’ve done that on occasion). It was a project serving the people of the Nashville area.
Glenn and Walker believe it’s necessary for the two churches to serve together because of what they’ve experienced and observed in terms of racial issues in their area.
“When Baltimore had their racial issues, the politicians got involved,” says Glenn. “When Charleston had their issue, the churches got involved, and you saw a revival happen.”
Glenn and Walker believe if anything to the magnitude of what happened in Baltimore or Charleston were to happen in Nashville, their churches would be on the front lines of reconciliation—together—because they’ve served alongside each other and have forged a bond.
Glenn and Walker say they believe the body of Christ here on earth needs to demonstrate the reality of heaven—a group of people of all colors and cultures worshiping and serving together.
Glenn and Walker say the most important step any church can take to tackle the issue of racial unity effectively is prayer.
“There are some people who want to learn the experiences of other races,” says Walker. And the way to understanding, he adds, is praying for that clarity and wisdom.
Citing that, “Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18), both pastors agreed that the prayers of the church should be undergirded in Scripture—the guide for praying for unity in the Church.
Maina is a freelance journalist and minister who lives in the Atlanta area with his wife, Tiffiney, and daughter Zyan.