Josh Clemons and Hazen Stevens are the kind of Christ-centered leaders that churches throughout the country dream to engage with. As co-executive directors of OneRace in Atlanta, they are leading a young adult movement to counter the tide of racial division in that city.
Launched in 2017, OneRace brought together some 25,000 people from varying ethnic, economic, cultural and denominational backgrounds on Aug. 25, 2018. That day, they ascended to the top of Stone Mountain in Georgia “to renounce racism and dead religion, and covenant together in unity to release a movement of revival and racial reconciliation.” Stone Mountain was significant because it was there that the Ku Klux Klan was reignited in 1915 and where Martin Luther King Jr. prophesied that freedom would one day ring.
Recently, I asked Clemons to share more about OneRace, of his heart and the heart of the movement. Here’s what he had to say.
The OneRace Movement exists to teach a city to love regardless of color, class or culture. We’ve invited pastors, ministry and lay leaders alike on a journey to know the story, own the story and change the story.
To get beyond divisions to a place of unity in Christ, we must first know the story of our past and the complicity of the church in creating the racial divide. Next, we must own the story through lament, confession and repentance. Finally, we must change the story for generations to come. Though historically the church has lagged behind in such understanding and pursuit, today we believe it must lead the way.
We must pursue racial unity now; we must live and love as Jesus did. He is our example, and humility is the key. The apostle Paul encourages us (via the local church) to follow the example of Christ (Phil. 2:5–11). In this passage, Paul explains that Jesus laid down his power, position and privilege to embrace, serve and love others. Are we willing to do that? I believe now is the time for leaders everywhere to earnestly wrestle with this question until it wounds them, that the church might rise in power, strength and beauty.
Toward this end, OneRace is committed to pursuing and promoting four ideals that we believe must intersect to create a movement in the church toward racial unity.
To date, OneRace has hosted nearly 50 prayer gatherings and catalytic events to promote healing, reconciliation and unity.
OneRace invites leaders to meet monthly in regional groups to forge authentic friendships. In partnership with the Mosaix Global Network, Noonday Association of Churches and UNITE, five such groups currently meet monthly around Atlanta.
In 2019, we centered our efforts around the 400th anniversary of African people arriving on the shores of Jamestown, Virginia. Our 400 Leadership Summit at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once pastored, brought together over 400 leaders to help change the story. Also, we encouraged churches across the Southeast to host a Sunday service called The Day of Remembrance. Over 50,000 believers attended such services.
OneRace partners with nearly 20 organizations that are invested in the work of mercy and justice, including the (&) campaign, a group committed to gospel-centric political advocacy.
The only answer for a divided nation is a united church. We must disciple our way out of racial division into racial unity. The time act is now.