MILWAUKEE — A group of pastors hoping to bridge the divide between people from urban and suburban brought their congregations together for a night of worship on MLK Day Monday night.
“We have the opportunity to come together and have integrated worship and that's something Martin Luther King Jr. essentially spoke to," said Kurt Owens, pastor at UFlourish Church and the president of The Milwaukee Declaration.
The Milwaukee Declaration is a group of several pastors and church leaders with a goal to "tear down racial walls and build bridges of peace."
They met for worship at Eastbrook Church for their 5th annual MLK Day Night of Worship.
“He [MLK] said 11 a.m. Sunday is the most segregated hour in America, and what’s happening today speaks to how far we’ve come," said Owens.
Owens, as well as many of the pastors at the event — both black and white — lead multi-ethnic churches.
According to Owens, they're intentional in their goal to bring different races together.
“On a night like this, I think anyone who’s looking for an opportunity to escape homogeneous communities and integrate yourself, into a community where you have a little bit of everybody," said Owens.
A 2018 Brooking's report named Milwaukee the most segregated metro area in America.
“A lot of churches stick with their own kind, but when you see everybody coming together for the love of Christ, then, you have no choice but just to become a part of it," said Lawrenda Smith Jr., who attended the night worship with her husband and baby boy.
Smith Jr. said she enjoyed it when members of the mixed congregation took a moment to stop and shake the hands around them.
A brief, yet powerful moment, that faith leaders want more people to experience outside of their integrated churches.
"People from the suburbs, that may not normally interact with people who live in the inner city, and vice versa, that really is key and really what Martin Luther King wanted – a dream where color isn’t a factor," said Zac Reuter, the operations pastor with Bridge Builders.