Black, White Christians Cross Racial Lines to Honor Dr. King

On what is believed to be the most segregated day of the week, local churches throughout the country broke down barriers to join in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Bill Hybels' predominantly white Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., and James Meeks' largely black Salem Baptist Church in Chicago – two of the Chicago area's biggest evangelical churches – held joint services on Sunday, encouraging the mingling of races through worship.

Meeks said having the largest white and black congregations in the state come together will "show the world what Christianity truly looks like," according to the local Daily Herald.

The weekend program was highlighted by critical discussions – titled "Can We All Get Along?" – and question-and-answer sessions about racism in America.

"People tend to do stuff with who they know," said Meeks, according to The Chicago Tribune. "They worship with people they know. We have to get to know each other better."

Both megachurch pastors, who are friends, said the fight for civil rights is far from over.

Across the country, many Americans, who are marking MLK Day on Monday, agree.

"We've come a long way, but we still have a long to go," said former Sen. Harris Wofford (D-PA.), as reported by Newsday.

In continuing the fight, thousands have chosen not to celebrate the day as a holiday, but to participate in service and action.

"If Dr. King came back today, I think he would not be happy to see it as a day off rather than a day of action," Wofford said.

Christians are taking action in educating communities about the Civil Rights Movement and instilling a greater understanding of racial injustice.

At Willow Creek, Meeks told the diverse congregations about being a victim of racial profiling. He was pulled over more than two years ago by a white policeman and verbally abused in his own neighborhood, he said, according to the Daily Herald.

Noting that there is a huge disparity in local taxes that fund the education of black students compared to white students, Hybels acknowledged that the playing field is still not level.

He encouraged church members to take the lead in the ongoing civil rights movement.

"As Christians, we should be the first to reach across racial lines," Hybels said.