In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared in his “I Have A Dream” speech, “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.” Two weeks ago, during the week of the 55th anniversary of that speech, there was a gathering at Stone Mountain to embody that dream. A Christian movement entitled OneRace, designed to apologize for the racism and anti-Semitism that characterized the Christianity of almost 2,000 years, initiated a revival there.
Several members of the Jewish community were invited to attend this revival to receive an apology for Christian anti-Semitism. The two of us attended and were announced as representatives of the “global” Jewish community. Three thousand people on the top of Stone Mountain and 7,000 on the field at the base of the mountain engaged in a prayerful apology for anti-Semitism caused by the Christian community over two millennia. About a quarter of the people there were African-American and three-quarters were white.
The organizers were initiating a movement rooted in prayer, relationship and justice that culminated in this gathering of worship and revival at Stone Mountain. They were praying for all races, cultures, and denominations from across the region to seek to transform the culture of the Church in a movement of revival and racial reconciliation.
Two hundred churches from the Atlanta area – black and white – were co-sponsors of the event. The principal theme was to apologize for the racism in religious institutions, and, while the overall program was predominately against white-on-black racism, one aspect of that effort acknowledged by the organizers and by the event itself was the apology for anti-Semitism.
For our part, we joined the pastors who were giving the witnessing and apology at the stage area directly in front of the 3,000 at the top of the mountain. The pastors most prominent at the event were the leaders of OneRace, Billy Humphrey, co-pastor of International House of Prayer Atlanta in Lawrenceville, and Bishop Garland R. Hunt, the senior pastor of The Father’s House in Norcross.
Also, there was Scott Allen, a prominent lay person heavily involved in the Christians United for Israel initiative and Israel365. Mr. Allen was a major force in ensuring that the issue of anti-Semitism be addressed by the OneRace movement. Pastor Humphrey and Bishop Hunt gave moving and meaningful words roundly condemning anti-Semitism and issuing an apology for it.
While we did not speak at the event, we indicated our appreciation for the outpouring of sincere and visible feelings by the pastors and the 3,000 people on top of the mountain. Afterwards, we were interviewed by one of the television stations covering the event.
Especially in light of the ill feelings about the issues of race, religion, and national origin that were in the atmosphere, it was a welcomed sight to witness what was to us a sincere desire to make our community one of reconciliation. May others in the country be moved to create other scenes of such reconciliation.