The message was not better received among the black faithful who had already left the church. According to many, he did not address the enduring structural legacy of racism, instead adhering to the usual evangelical emphasis on individual prejudices. More importantly, they said, it made no sense that Pastor Morris ever struggled with his support for Donald Trump.
“I wasn’t wrestling,” Pastor Morris said of his feelings in 2016, before explaining that he is not wrestling now either. “We elected what we thought was the person who held the values the church loves the most. That doesn’t mean he’s perfect. But I think after spending time with him, he really wants to learn, that he really wants to do a good job for all Americans. I really do. “
There are greater racial injustices in the country, he said, and these injustices need to be addressed – but not in a way that allows for addiction, he said, but rather to “kick in. hand to the people, not a handout ”. He noted the low black unemployment rate under Mr. Trump. The answer to racism lies primarily in the church, not in the government, he said, and now that white pastors are waking up to the pain that blacks have felt, it is in many ways a time of death. ‘hope.
“I think there’s an anger and a hurt right now, and a fear,” he said, “and I think people are going to get over that.”
There is now a team at the church dedicated exclusively to making the church more diverse. The weekend before Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day, a 49-second video of excerpts from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was shown during church services – “a monumental moment in the history of the Church. ‘Gateway church,’ said a pastor, the first time the day had been recognized.
When Mrs Pruitt arrived in Mount Olive, the service had already started, with a choir of 26 people singing a gospel hymn, accompanied by a drummer and a man on a Hammond organ. It was one of the first churches she attended for worship in a year and a half. She had continued to give the tithing money to Gateway for a few months after she stopped going, but after hearing about the inaugural ball, she began to donate to another church. Most Sundays, she had stayed at home, watching online services.
The Mount Olive Sanctuary was brilliantly lit, and the only video screen advertised a Black History Month essay contest. The congregation was older and more dressed than those in many mega-churches. But for two young white men, all of the worshipers were African-American.