Civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that America's most segregated hour was 11 o'clock on a Sunday morning, for Christian church services. A local and nationwide effort is trying to bridge that racial gap.
It is called the National Day of Racial Healing and this area's second celebration of the event was Tuesday night at Temple Beth Zion. The largest focus was bringing together an array of Christian and Jewish leaders to bridge gaps among their communities to work toward "healing the wounds "created by racial, ethnic and religious bias.
The goal is "an equitable and just society in which all children can grow and thrive." George Nicholas, senior pastor of Lincoln Memorial Methodist Church, said racial segregation at the altar is slowly breaking down.
"That's one of the great tragedies that goes on in our country is that, you're talking about in the Christian context, Right?" Nicholas asked. "We're seeing a little more diversity in the Christian movement but, still we're still very segregated and I think our leadership has to spend more time with one another."
Nicholas said religious leaders have to work together openly toward justice in our society, with church leadership visible.
Catholic Bishop Richard Malone said activities like this can attract millennials who would never be in a church or synagogue, but will turn out to create a better society.
"Oftentimes, we can get them to come to these things that are more focused, at least on the surface, they're more focused on something for the good of the local community, the public, than they are directly connected with God," Malone said. "It's very easy to get young adults involved in service projects, Habitat for Humanity, they may not go to church but they will do that. Sometimes that can be a way to draw them close."
However, Beth Zion Rabbi Jonathan Freirich said society is not coalescing against religion.
"The world is not turning against us," Freirich said. "I would point out that the world is, in fact, in a far better place than we might think and that most often when things are frantically dark in the public, they are amazingly light and warm in our private sphere."