Two Tennessee megachurches, one predominantly African-American and the other majority Caucasian, co-hosted a back-to-school charity event Saturday to set an example of "what racial reconciliation looks like."
Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Nashville and Brentwood Baptist Church held the "We're Better Together" event to provide school supplies and healthcare screenings for students.
Johnny Stephens, spokesman for Mt. Zion, which has been organizing the back-to-school event annually for the past decade, told The Christian Post that it was the first of many planned events to involve both congregations working together.
"We invited families from every background and community to start the school year off right with free backpacks and health screenings, and get to know and enjoy one another in the process," Stephens said.
Steve Smith, spokesman for Brentwood Baptist Church, told CP that the cooperation between the two congregations came through the friendship between Brentwood's lead Pastor Mike Glenn and Bishop Joseph Walker of Mt. Zion Baptist.
"Mike Glenn began following Bishop Walker on social media, and the two found kinship with each other," Smith said.
"They decided that it was important for the church to be a leader in proactively showing society what racial reconciliation looks like, embracing the fullness of the diverse expressions of God's creation and exemplifying unity in Christ."
Smith described Saturday's event as "fruitful" and a "successful pilot test for subsequent events."
In recent years, there has been an effort by churches of various denominations to bridge what many believe to be a growing racial divide in the United States.
Efforts to advance racial reconciliation by churches have included events aimed at combating racism and, for some churches, a "Racists Anonymous" program. These events have involved people of different backgrounds discussing where they come from on racial issues, what prejudices they may hold, and what they are doing to counteract them.
The head of Mt. Zion Baptist since 1992, Walker said in a statement provided to CP that his congregation is based in "a special community where people have historically tended to build bridges rather than walls."
"But Rev. Glenn and I believe we still have many left to build — and we want to do our part," Walker added. "Our congregations are growing by leaps and bounds. So is this wonderful city. It is our responsibility to grow together and support one another."