THE DESEGREGATED PRAYER
On the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s Speech in Montgomery, Gov. George Wallace’s Daughter
Prays with Leaders of The Reconciled Church
|MONTGOMERY, Ala. – March 26, 2016 — Fifty years after the march from Selma ended with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech from a flatbed truck—there to bar him from the capitol steps—the then-governor’s daughter, now Peggy Wallace Kennedy, prayed on those steps with leaders of The Reconciled Church (TRC), a multiracial and non-denominational movement to restore Civil Rights through changed lives.
On March 25, ceremonies marking the 50 anniversary of the Selma March to Alabama’s state capital, Bishop Harry Jackson, a founder of the TRC movement—standing with Prison Fellowship President Jim Liske, Bishop Kyle Searcy of Montgomery’s Fresh Anointing Church, and Bishop J. Alan Neal of the International Communication of Evangelical Churches—prayed for Mrs. Kennedy.
At age 13, in June 1963, Peggy Wallace watched on TV as her father barred the University of Alabama doors to black students. The spirit of Governor Wallace’s later reconciliation with the same black students echoed in TRC’s three Montgomery events on March 25. In the morning two panels of experts broached the bookends of prison reduction—youth empowerment and criminal justice reform. That night Bishop Kyle Searcy’s Fresh Anointing church overflowed with a citywide service.
“Then and now, the soul of Civil Rights is the Church because the law can only change the rules,” Bishop Jackson said. “Changed lives happens through unity, action and prayer—concentrated in seven ‘bridges to peace’ to influence programs and people across the U.S. through a wide network of best practices.”
Seven-Point National Program
In its first national meeting in January 2015, The Reconciled Church set Seven Bridges to Peace: prayer, civic engagement, youth empowerment, community outreach and service, marriage and family, criminal justice, and economic development.
“Our jails and prisons hold 2.3 million adults and we spend some $80.5 billion a year to keep them there,” Jackson said. “The U.S. is 5 percent of the world population and has 25 percent of its prisoners. It’s time to turn the car around.”
“For 40 years we’ve asked how to get bad people from our neighborhood. It’s time to ask, ‘How do we bring good people home?’” said panelist Liske, whose organization, Prison Fellowship, restores families through faith-based reentry programs.
Montgomery’s 15th Circuit Court Judge Johnny Hardwick drove home the problem. “Once you get out of prison you’re never free from prison,” he said of released prisoners’ long-term restrictions. Hardwick advocates a federation of prison ministries to accelerate the path from prison to fruitful life, asking, “Why suffer a civil death for a mistake you made when you were 19?”
Montgomery’s Searcy, meanwhile, is driving funds for a new state-of-the-art Youth City, a comprehensive and model center to prepare all kids for all of life and “keep them out of the system.”
Civil Rights History Still Being Written
The Reconciled Church is a multiracial, non-denominational movement of congregations united to restore communities and the people in them. Bishop Harry Jackson, with Bishop T.D. Jakes and evangelist James Robison, assembled the first meeting of movement leaders–including Bernice King and Andrew Young–in Dallas this January. Leaders representing more than 40 million Christians signed a reconciliation covenant, and committed to immediate action to heal the racial divide in the U.S.
“In the wake of the Ferguson and New York City deaths, a solution to national racial tension must transcend government action alone. We must rekindle King’s Dream of fairness and justice for all–black, white and brown; rich and poor; educated and uneducated,” Jackson said.
The first Reconciled Church meeting at T.D.Jakes’ Potter’s House church in Dallas included private prayer and information-sharing with Christian leaders and a panel discussion on best practices for racial reconciliation. The next meeting, in Orlando, on April 29, 2015 unveils a national strategy to mobilize the church to change both hearts and heads about laws, church collaboration, and how the average Christian can make a difference. TheReconciledChurch.org
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IN THE PHOTO BELOW: On March 25, 2015, following ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma March ending at the Montgomery statehouse, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, daughter of Gov. George Wallace, who famously worked to preserve segregation, prays with leaders of The Reconciled Church. Left to right: Bishop Kyle Searcy of Fresh Anointing Church in Montgomery; Jim Liske, president of Prison Fellowship; Bishop Harry Jackson, The Reconciled Church founder (and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church near Washington, D.C.); and Bishop J. Alan Neal of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches.