“I just said to myself, ‘What are we saying to the world?’” he told The Christian Chronicle. “Who has a monopoly on the microphone of America? And why shouldn’t those of us who believe that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and not the hawk of war — why shouldn’t we be speaking to the country and demonstrating that it is possible for Black people and Hispanic people and Asian people and White people to get together and to at least demonstrate our desire to be together?
“Even in the midst of all the imperfections that we see every day, our hearts know better.”
Collin Packer — one of more than 50 bus riders and the co-leader of MARCH, the Ministry for Awareness, Change and Healing — said he felt convicted after the 2018 killing of Botham Jean, a member of the Dallas West Church of Christ.
A preacher for the nearby Greenville Oaks Church of Christ in Allen, Texas, at the time, Packer believes Churches of Christ especially need to be more vocal advocates against violence and injustice.
“D.C. was where we needed to end up,” he told the Chronicle, referring to the tour’s final stop, “because it really was a calling to the church after what we saw Jan. 6 — we don’t want to see that in 2024. It’s time for the church not to be silent but to speak up and make sure we’re working together, even across lines that have often divided us.”
But Taylor emphasized that his message transcends politics — that it’s of Christ, not a political party.
“We should be showing the light of love and showing the people that have come here to stand on this same soil with us that we do know how to get along together, especially those who name the name of Christ,” he said. “We’re tired of that old song of division and hatred and blue this and red that and liberal, conservative, left, right, independent.
“If we can get each person to stop looking at the other and go inward and address the heart issues,” Taylor added, “I think that we would see some healing taking place on a national scale, so that’s my heart’s desire.”
Dallas-based A Cappella Alliance performed a special song it composed for the tour called “Recipe for Racial Unity”:
Love, joy, peace and happiness,
Because America united will be blessed.
America wins when we confess our sins.
Acknowledge the hate,
Embrace it with grace.
Racial hate unchecked destroys us all,
So I say Lord send me,
I’ll heed the call.
But although the group of Christians who gathered in Birmingham believe they still have work to do, Anthony, the Roosevelt City preacher, reminded them that God is in control.
“The most difficult aspect of reconciliation,” he said, “is getting us to accept the reality that this battle is already won.”