- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The pastor of a 6,000-member church in Dumfries, Virginia, says he’s found a first step toward healing America’s racial divide: talking to each other and listening to what is said.

Bishop Derek Grier, founding pastor of Grace Church in Dumfries, said the new “Let’s Talk” series of monthly Zoom calls for pastors and religious leaders are aimed at not only discussing the issues, but also developing practical solutions and building relationships.

“If we can come together and actually speak and converse with one another rather than continuing to shout at one another, I believe the Lord will listen and we will see real change in our nation,” Mr. Grier said.

“As such, I’m seeking to create an environment where multicultural Christian leaders from across the country can hear and be heard, share their disappointments and triumphs as it relates to race relations in America, and address critical race matters, as well as come up with practical solutions to the crisis,” he said in an interview with The Washington Times.

The kickoff event is a banquet slated for Wednesday evening at the Museum of the Bible.

Along with U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, who will offer the invocation, speakers include John Jenkins, chairman of the National Association of Evangelicals; Salem Radio Network host Don Kroah; Gordon Robertson, chief executive officer of the Christian Broadcasting Network; and, via videotape, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

In the interview, Mr. Grier said that while it’s important for Christians to pray about the issues dividing the nation, the ancient Israelites who had remained faithful despite their neighbors’ apostasy used dialogue as a way to resolve conflicts.

He cited Malachi 3:16, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, And the Lord listened and heard them.”

Mr. Grier said, “We expect many times, as rugged individualist Americans, to pray to God to solve all of our issues. However, we’re part of a larger community, and God did not deal with the issues that the nation [of Israel] was facing at that time until they began to speak to one another.”

Because media choices, on the right or left, can “silo” people who “can become desensitized to the perspective of others,” Mr. Grier added, “we’re really not talking to one another. We have pundits speaking for us.”

He said the goal of the “Let’s Talk” sessions “is really to give people an opportunity to talk to one another directly, honestly and simply, but also caringly about the issues that really matter.”

Mr. Grier said additional information on the video discussions and efforts to bridge societal divides can be found at www.letstalklive.org.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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