This was more likely to be the case in evangelical churches than in mainline Protestant churches, and more likely in larger ones than in smaller ones. Black congregants — as recounted by people in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Fort Worth and elsewhere — had already grown uneasy in recent years as they watched their white pastors fail to address police shootings of African-Americans.
They heard prayers for Paris, for Brussels, for law enforcement; they heard that one should keep one’s eyes on the kingdom, that the church was colorblind, and that talk of racial injustice was divisive, not a matter of the gospel.
He was, she later learned, Robert Morris of Gateway Church.
Gateway started nearly 20 years ago with a prayer group in Pastor Morris’s living room, and has in the past two decades grown to become a 0 million ministry, drawing upward of 31,000 people a week to six campuses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The scale and thoroughness of the operation are extraordinary: the attractive ledgestone-and-wood arena — with a coffee kiosk serving a Gateway blend — at the church’s Southlake, Tex., headquarters; the worship music booming over a first-class sound system; the robust programs for children, single parents and a host of other groups.
Above all, for many members, there are Pastor Morris’s weekly messages themselves: wry, often self-deprecating, sprinkled with biblical scholarship and often affectingly personal.“This is what I need right now,” thought Ms.
The issue has long shadowed the evangelical movement. Billy Graham, who died last month at 99, bravely integrated the audience at his crusades and preached alongside Dr.
In the darkened hall, where it would have been hard to tell she was one of the few black people in the room, she would have listened to the soaring anthems of the praise bands. Large Christian ministries were dedicated to the aim of integration, and many black Christians decided to join white-majority congregations.Pruitt, moved to tears when she first went to orientation programs at the church.Members who happened to sit near her at worship came to ask about her when she missed a service, and some came to her grandmother’s wake. The congregation is mostly white, but not entirely; the pastors at two of the six satellite campuses are black men.To grow up black, said Carla Mc Kissic Smith, who started going to Gateway in 2009, is to get used to being in the minority.As the headlines of the outside world turned to police shootings and protest, little changed inside majority-white churches.She would have watched, on three giant screens, a sermon that over the course of a weekend would reach one of the largest congregations in the country. Pruitt has not been to that church since the fall of 2016. Pruitt pulled one of the slips out of the Ziploc bag. Some went as missionaries, called by God to integrate.