By Dr. Mac Pier
CEO – The NYC Leadership Center
Founder – Movement Day
Senior Associate of Cities – The Lausanne Movement
Prayers are being poured out today, July 8, as people are trying to understand the horrific events in Dallas. I am writing this blog from the Queens, New York County Courthouse jury selection room. It is providing me time to think about the journeys of these two very different cities—Dallas and New York City, which have found themselves in great moments of crisis.
The murder of five Dallas policemen in the aftermath of high profile deaths of two African-American men this week have put American cities on edge. Our prayer is that U.S. cities will not be more deeply plunged into violence across racial lines.
On 9/11 I was on the 15th floor of the Empire State Building when the World Trade Center was struck by two airplanes. It was devastating. The loss of 3,000 lives including hundreds of New York Police Department and New York Fire Department personnel will never be forgotten.
As a city and a nation we were unnerved. Just as many are unnerved by the violence in Dallas, TX this week.
In the midst of the chaos there is an opportunity for the church to be the church. Unity is not just a spiritual aspiration, it is an urgent and strategic necessity for the Body of Christ.
After 9/11 we saw the magnificence of the church; caring for the families of those killed in the tragedy, serving meals, providing counseling, and providing a place of refuge for the suffering. We saw agencies like World Vision rally the philanthropic community to give $6 million to assist victims of 9/11 through the church.
Out of the ashes of 9/11 God did remarkable things in New York City (NYC). We saw evangelical Christianity grow in Manhattan. Stimulated by concern for NYC after 9/11, our organization (The New York City Leadership Center) collaborated with Redeemer City to City to catalyze church planting efforts.
The Dallas/Fort Worth area is a region of magnificent churches, agencies, and networks. I have been to Dallas every month for the past five years. I have witnessed Dallas as the “Antioch of America” with its great missionary impulse. Mayor Michael Rawlings is a magnificent leader. His heart for the whole city and every racial strata is remarkable. He is a great champion for the churches to impact the city.
Like every American city, Dallas has its racial fault lines. Fortunately some of the great churches in America are the African-American churches in the Southern Sector of Dallas – including Concord Baptist Church, Oak Cliff Bible Church, Inspiring Body of Christ Church, and The Potter’s House. Those fault lines have begun to be crossed by nearly 100 pastoral leaders including Bryan Carter, Jeff Warren, Vincent Parker, and Mark Davis. In April 2016, twenty churches exchanged pulpits across racial lines. This is giving evidence to the truth that we can only love that which we know.
Networks like Movement Day Greater Dallas and Unite Greater Dallas play a crucial role in connecting leaders and churches to each other. The more physically present Christian leaders are to each other, the more present God becomes to the city.
Let us within our cities, across races and across our cities, come together. The world is watching. Are we ready to lead?