Church members across North Alabama are discussing racial inequality and how to eliminate systemic racism.
The Racial Equality Action Committee of Huntsville and other organizations called on local church leaders to have these discussions today, a day that's being referred to as Solidarity Sunday.
At Monte Sano United Methodist Church, the pastor held a service Sunday morning devoted to acknowledging racism in our country. He and other church pastors also signed a pledge agreeing to continue the discussion surrounding inequality.
"We took time out of the sermon to acknowledge systemic racism, where it comes from, what it means," said pastor, John Mullaney.
Mullaney says he wants to do everything he can to help end systemic racism.
"These aren't new issues for predominantly Black churches, but for predominantly white churches. We don't talk about racism very much," said Mullaney.
He says change is only going to happen through education and confronting these issues.
"Many do not believe that it's even a real thing, so a lot of it is really explanation and giving information about what systemic racism is," said Mullaney.
"This isn't the end, this is the beginning of a new solidarity movement in the church," said Rev. Dexter Strong.
Dexter strong is one of the organizers of Solidarity Sunday. He says bringing this topic into predominantly white churches is important.
"To what extent are we willing to leverage our privilege, leverage our influence in order to change the world for the better?" said Strong.
Strong says he hopes the movement to end inequality continues.
"This moment feels different, but I felt this way before. What I'm hopeful about is the churches, and people of all religious and non-religious traditions. I hope this moment is not just catharsis. I hope this is a moment that we deeply commit to ending systemic racism," said Strong.
Solidarity Sunday Pledge, created by REACHsv:
"As followers of Jesus Christ, called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are committed to denouncing ideologies of hate and racism and dismantling all forms of institutional oppression. We believe standing with society’s abused to be essential to the Christian faith and vital to the witness of the Church.
Therefore, we acknowledge systemic racism—practices, policies, laws, and assumptions that are entrenched in the institutions and culture of society. We admit that systemic racism is an enduring and pervasive evil in our nation that is contrary to the will of God. We will act upon the grace of God made known to us through Jesus Christ by committing ourselves to fighting with those who hunger for justice.
As God grants us strength, we:
1. Commit to church leadership training to better understand and dismantle systemic racism in our community and in our country, including seeking guidance from Black perspectives both inside and outside of our particular Christian tradition. We will coordinate with REACHsv to find the best training option for our leadership, potentially making use of training provided by Project Say Something.
2. Commit to at least monthly congregational awareness efforts to keep the issue of systemic racism and injustice in front of our congregations and to provide a consistent call to action to dismantle and eradicate it. We will coordinate with REACHsv for resources and support in this endeavor.
3. Commit to taking direct action as a church to fight systemic racism and injustice in our own community. In particular, we commit to support the nine proposals of the Citizen Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform at the municipal and county levels in our community. We will work with REACHsv as a liaison between our church and the Citizen Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform."