A diverse coalition of prominent pastors and Christian faith leaders including Bishop T.D. Jakes, Harry Jackson, Samuel Rodriguez and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Alveda King, are expected to meet at a summit in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday to discuss ways to promote practical steps toward racial reconciliation in America.
At the summit, according to a release from the organizers, the faith leaders are expected to focus on seven "Bridges to Peace" community initiatives namely: reconciliation and prayer forums; education policy reform; community engagement forums; community service and compassion outreaches; personal, marriage and family development; engagement with the criminal justice system; and economic development strategies.
Organizers of the event, which is being hosted by Jackson, chairman of High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church, are also requesting that President Barack Obama specifically address educational reforms, urban economic development policies, and criminal justice reforms that have the potential to alleviate the racial divide during his Jan. 20 State of the Union address.
"It was Dr. King who said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter's House megachurch, noted in the statement.
"We cannot continue as if we live in a post-racial society, when there is mounting evidence to the contrary. Recent history is loudly telegraphing the need for a meaningful dialogue on race," he added.
That loud telegraph calling for meaningful dialogue of race came in the form of the controversial deaths of Staten Island, New York, father Eric Garner, and 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, during a physical confrontation with a police officer last year summer. The incidents have sparked protests from hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country calling for racial justice and other needed reforms.
Other leaders who are expected to be in attendance include: Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council; Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and founder and president of The Urban Alternative; James Robison, founder and president of LIFE Outreach International and co-host of LIFE Today TV; R.A. Vernon, founder and senior pastor of The Word Church; and Jim Garlow, senior pastor at Skyline Church.