Striving for Unity


Briging the trust gap between Memphis pastors to work more strategically together.


Focus on peace, harmony and the root conditions that are prohibiting us to love one another are where we maintained our conversations, prayer and efforts at the third CLERGY ONLY meeting that was held last night at Mt Moriah East Baptist Church, hosted by Rev. Melvin Charles Smith and his most courteous staff and volunteers.  We are so appreciative with over 125 pastors and co-pastors from across our city who have stepped up to be a dedicated coalition of cross bearing Jesus followers BOMBARDING heaven with believing prayer and continuing to dialogue in discomfort to understand the pain of people. We have an issue of LOVE ONE ANOTHER and we must continue to search for solutions and be ACTIVE and NOT PASSIVE in our quest to find it.  Solutions are coming as a heightened awareness within our individual churches but synchronized efforts are where movement will come. Our special speaker, Colonel James Kirkwood of the Memphis Police Department plead for churches to make things happen and reap the harvest that is right at our back doors to mentor, tutor, and be the SALT and the LIGHT for those who can’t see beyond the dark areas where they reside. As a result we come together as a pastoral COMMUNITY and have collectively committed to the following:

  • Initiation of multi-ethnic pastoral relationships that will continue our effort of understanding each other’s perspectives
  • Continued specific PRAYERS for solutions and resolution of our crisis
  • Become SYNCHRONIZED in our efforts to do more of what is working by the development of specialized committees that will be led by an Executive committee. This will be a nominated committee from the pastoral council that have been gathering these past three weeks and elected based on votes that will be collected from the same group.
  • Reconvene in one month (location TBD) to continue the conversations, sharing successes, and ideas (Written July 26, 2016)

We are so pleased that once again, faith leaders of Memphis showed up to participate in our continued discussion that was started last week here at Hope. The clergy ONLY meeting was held at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church and hosted by Dr. Netters and his gracious staff and volunteers. Over 190 clergy gathered and had productive discussions on the delicate issues and topics that are plaguing our city and our country. We are so pleased that we have so many that are prayerfully and peacefully willing to step into discomfort to learn from one another and be leaders that will fuel change. This meeting will reconvene next Monday at yet another location and will continue the delicate discussions and are prayerful for significant solutions. (Written July 19, 2016)

Proverbs 4:7 (ERV)
The first step to becoming wise is to look for wisdom, so use everything you have to get understanding.

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God filled our meeting room last night as the faith leaders of Memphis came together to meet, pray, discuss and listen. Many thanks to all of the clergy as well as the the law enforcement leaders that were in attendance. Our time was well spent preparing our hearts and minds in prayer and worship. We heard from our law enforcement leaders with pleas of more conversations, continued leadership with the varied congregations, more involvement and closed with the laying of hands on these leaders in a prayer of safety, guidance and protection for them and ALL of the people of our city. This was the first of three scheduled meetings and we are excited and moved by the overwhelming acceptance and response. (Written July 12, 2016)

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A Letter of Unity • (Written July 10, 2016)

Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Dallas are in our nation’s stream of consciousness. Why? Because, once again, hatred, violence and lives of separation which breed misunderstanding have broken our hearts, frayed our nerves, and challenged our faith. Along with Eli and Craig, I ask four things of you over the next several days.

  • The first is to STOP - and extend our heartfelt sympathies to the bereaving, bewildered, angry families and friends of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, LA, Philando Castile of Falcon Heights, MN and the five murdered and seven wounded police officers in Dallas, TX.  
     
  • The second is to START - a civil face-to-face conversation this week (not merely through social media) with another person reflecting on WHY our nation seems to be more polarized with hatred, violence and lives of separation which breed misunderstanding.  Don’t just talk to your friends. Talk to an Anglo-American, African-American, Latino-American or Asian-American co-worker, friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor within your concentric circle of contact who may not already share your political perspective.  (Don’t you wish we could all just be Americans without the hyphen!)Don’t pretend to have answers. Just talk. Ask questions of each other. You will not solve the nation’s problems but, believe it or not, you will be taking an important step toward a resolution.
     
  • The third is to SAY PRAYERS OF HOPE - for your spiritual and civil leaders as we grapple with how to lead and, in some cases, follow the wisdom of someone beside ourselves, including the will of God the Father. Say prayers to eliminate the hatred, violence and lives of separation which breed misunderstanding among Anglo-American peace officers (as well as some black peace officers) and African-Americans and Latino-Americans.Say prayers for minorities and police to develop a mutual understanding and appreciation of each other.
     
  • The last thing is to STAY-TUNED - to collective current and future efforts that address root causes like poverty, the lack of quality education, meaningful employment opportunities and bridging the lives of separation which breed misunderstanding among white, black and brown Americans.

When adults in society, along with the church, disappear from notice (or are AWOL - Absent Without Leave), gangs, thugs, and misguided youth fill the vacuum. I am glad to be a part of a church striving to be a multiethnic, intergenerational answer to our City, State and Nation on a weekly basis.  Do not underestimate our endeavor to keep putting aside our pettiness and personal preferences as both an example and answer to the high priestly prayer of Jesus.

Father, I pray that all who believe in me can be one. You are in me and I am in you. I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me. John 17:21 (ERV)

We must continue to fight to be the answer to His prayer, which will significantly reduce our nation’s hatred, violence and misunderstanding. I look forward to being with you in worship this weekend as we grapple with these issues as a family.

Lamenting! (Lamentations 3:19-23)

Rufus D. Smith IV
Senior Pastor-Hope Church

Hope's PURPOSE: to engage our un-churched neighbors of every age & ethnicity to experience Jesus.

Hope's PROCESS: to the extent a person is involved in Worship, Community, Service, & Generosity--- is to the extent they will experience the fullness of Jesus, our Life-Giver King.