How does a community -- let alone a country -- find its way to "united" at a time of division, dissension and disheartening realities? That's a question pastors from across the country hope to answer this weekend in Gainesville, Ga.
"If nothing else, we can sit down and listen and hear the other side and find middle ground," said Jentezen Franklin, the pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville.
Franklin is hosting a event this weekend that will bring faith leaders from across the country to address the problems urban communities face and the nation's racial divide. In a conversation with 11Alive's Cheryl Preheim, he said people aren't doing enough listening.
"Right now, our country is in such a racial divide...so much fear, really, among people in the Hispanic community, black community and the white community and I have never seen anything like it," he said.
Never having seen anything like it is saying a lot after Pastor Franklin has spent nearly three decades in the pulpit. He said people are missing the main issue, "you have to get to the root of the problem."
That's why his church is hosting the The Reconciled Church. Pastors, police chiefs, civil rights advocates will get together in Atlanta, committed to going beyond conversations.
"We are looking to the government for everything and the government can’t obviously fix everything when we have the answer right in our own communities," Franklin said. He also serves as an advisor to President Trump on his faith advisory board. This national influence puts him at the table for conversations about topics of great interest, like immigration.
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Franklin said those conversations with the president are frank. That frankness is what they hope to bring to Gainesville, Ga. at Sunday's event. As a white man, he said he can't relate to everyone's experiences.
"I don’t know what it is like to be pulled over because I’m driving a nice car and be questioned because of the color of my skin. I’ve not had that experience," he said. Listening is what he and other leaders hope will help find that middle ground. In a climate where political rhetoric is divisive and on the other side of an election that was hurtful for many, a breath is what Franklin said everyone could use.
"I just wish we could take it down a notch, everything, everybody. We are so angry we are so upset. At some point that a soft answer turns away wrath. If we just realize…do you want to be right or do you want to be reconciled?"
"I believe there are conservatives and liberals who want justice when there is an injustice. And they want to be vocal in their communities. Why can’t we come together on the things we agree on and when we disagree...well that is America," Franklin said.
This Sunday, Free Chapel is hosting the The Reconciled Church at 5 p.m. at their Gainesville campus at 3001 McEver Rd.
To register for the free event, click here