Pastor T.D. Jakes Turns Potter’s House Regular Sunday Morning Service Into Town Hall Meeting With Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Police Chief David Brown, Mother of Slain Alton Sterling, and More; Says Fatal Police Shootings Have Left Nation Frustrated, Fatigued

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Pastor T. D. Jakes pray at The Potter's House during the church's Sunday service. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Pastor T. D. Jakes pray at The Potter’s House during the church’s Sunday service. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

It was Thursday evening, and pastor T.D. Jakes was at home, laying out his clothes for the next day, when he saw the first live TV scenes of a sniper targeting officers who had been escorting a downtown rally against police violence across the nation.

By the time the rampage ended, five officers were dead. And Jakes, pastor of the city’s 30,000-member The Potter’s House megachurch, was devastated.

“It took me back to the assassination of President Kennedy,” he said, horrific bloodshed that occurred only blocks from where the president’s motorcade had passed more than a half-century before. “It was deeply disturbing.”

On Sunday, Jakes turned his regular service into a town hall meeting, inviting into the pulpit Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Mayor Mike Rawlings and Saundra Sterling, the mother of the 37-year-old black man who Tuesday was fatally shot by white officers in Baton Rouge, La.

Alton Sterling’s death was captured on video, as was the death of 32-year-old Philando Castile the next day in Falcon Heights, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul. Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish “Diamond” Reynolds, who live-streamed the fatal police shooting, called in to the Sunday morning service, telling the congregation that “the police are supposed to protect us. … This shouldn’t have happened.”

Jakes, wearing a black suit and gold tie, prayed for both Reynolds and Castile’s family. “Lord let justice prevail. Wrap your arms around them,” he intoned.

Yet he also urged prayers for the Dallas police force.

“This was a peaceful demonstration that turned horribly tragic. These officers gave their lives protecting not just black people but white people, Latinos, people of all races. Let’s praise God for these officers,” Jakes said as people in the 10,000-seat, capacity-filled sanctuary jumped to their feet and applauded.

“Hallelujah,” many in the congregation of blacks, whites and Latinos responded. “Amen,” others called out. Ushers passed out tissues to many in the aisles. One woman comforted another next to her. “It’s going to get better baby,” she said. “It’s got to get better. The Lord will see to it.”

The 59-year-old preacher said many individuals, not just African Americans but all races, are distressed and finding various ways to express that. Most are turning to peaceful protest but some to violence, he said.

“We’re seeing it in real-time speed on social media, passing from community to community and 24-hour news cycles of constantly being inundated with images of bloody shirts and screaming children,” he said. “It is extremely traumatic. And until leadership of all colors sits down at the table and comes out of denial and says we have a problem, justice will wrongfully fall into the hands of those who are not mature enough nor stable enough to act in the stead of people who are able to but won’t act.”

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SOURCE: Washington Post – Keith L. Alexander

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