Racial unity still front and center years after North Carolina churches merge | State and Area News

KANNAPOLIS — Troy Savage says Martin Luther King Jr.’s decades-old critique of the racial divide in the American church still rings true today.

“They say the most segregated hour in America is Sunday morning at 11 a.m….it’s true,” Savage said, adding that people of different races, ethnicities and cultures regularly work and socialize together. . “And then on Sunday morning we do this – we go our separate ways.”

But Savage doesn’t think it should stay that way. He and his family of four, who are African American, attend The Refuge Church just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. It is one of the churches trying to diversify Sunday mornings in America.

“When we think about racial reconciliation, our goals really should be to do what Jesus wanted us to do, which is to be one — to be united,” said April Savage, his wife. “That’s really what The Refuge is trying to do. They want to bring people together… where we not only exist in the same church, but where we are celebrated in the same church.

In November 2016, The Refuge Church, a predominantly white multi-site congregation, merged with a predominantly black church and hired its pastor, Reverend Derrick Hawkins, as part of its ministry staff. The Reverend Jay Stewart, the senior pastor of The Refuge Church, and Hawkins, who is now one of the executive pastors, detailed the merger in the book, “Welded: Forming Racial Bonds That Last.”

Jerry B. Hatch