|Source: Baptist Press|
As relations between communities of color and police in the United States remain strained, one church is working to help bridge the divide.
Creekstone Church of Keller, Texas, under the leadership of Pastor Kason Branch, organized the initiative with the goal of introducing law enforcement officers to communities of color in spaces where communities of color feel safe congregating for a series of dialogs about how the communities can come together to not only combat crime, but also build trust.
“With so much civil unrest between the police forces and citizens, I felt the need to foster better communication,” Branch said. “This was around the time that Botham Jean was killed in Dallas , a very volatile time. I wanted to help people talk to one another within our community, rather than allowing things to spiral out of control.”
“We wanted to get out ahead of future problems in our town so we could talk to one another in a civil way if something does happen,” Branch said.
During the dialogue, Branch, a former city councilman, spoke with both current and former city officials about the importance of individuals in the community trusting the police.
One of these participants, Mayor Pat Magrai, described his experiences of leading police that had to grapple with protesters following the killing of George Floyd. Magrail, noting the importance of Branch’s efforts, said he would partner with the church to identify law enforcement personnel who would be possibly willing to work with the church and others in developing a community advisory committee.
Branch said, “I’ve always had a healthy respect for police. It’s not about pointing a finger of blame at police officers, but about building better communications within our city. The police officers welcomed this because it gives more people a chance to see that they are doing good work. Indeed they are!”
In the coming weeks, Branch hopes that subsequent meetings will build on the momentum and bring more congregations on board in providing law enforcement opportunities to present and engage prior to instances violence that cause mistrust.
Source: Baptist Press