In a rally of thousands Thursday evening, churches across Collin County called for unity and justice. The event was hosted by One Community Church and dozens of other local churches. Elected officials also attended.
On the steps of the Collin County courthouse in McKinney, One Community Church Pastor Conway Edwards challenged the crowd to make connections with people who don’t look like them.
“I'm calling for a unity table every fifth weekend,” he said. “That means you cannot have a diverse church on Sunday unless your dining table is diverse on Saturday.”
Edwards also announced churches in Collin County will form a team to fight racial inequalities.
“We're going to start a task force for justice. A collaborative effort from Collin County churches to make sure that when injustices happen, we will be right there to correct the wrong,” he said.
Plano resident Vicky Michaels is a member of One Community Church. She said praying leads to larger change.
“If anyone encourages you positively, it's going to strengthen you,” she said.
Michaels said she remembers watching the sentencing of former patrol officer Amber Guyger after the murder of Dallas resident Botham Jean.
“The family forgave her,” she said. “We can forgive that person, and that love can help that person when they come out to be rehabilitated properly.”
McKinney Mayor George Fuller took to the microphone to speak on his idea of unity. Fuller said he supported the idea of the unity table.
“As I hear about the unity table, my first thought was, 'why didn't I think of that?'”
In reference to the Trump administration, Fuller said it is the responsibility of elected officials to go outside of party lines when necessary. He said a hateful tone has been set “from the very top.”
“If we don't have the courage as elected officials to step out when a person of our party says something so heinous, so ridiculous, so hate-filled, so divisive; if we don't have the ability as elected officials to step out of that partisan allegiance and speak out against it, then how in God's name will we ever get change by our elected officials?”
As Fuller spoke, Collin County resident Taylor Martin was busy registering people to vote.
“There's a lot of people who aren't even registered, so our goal was to just make it easier for everyone,” she said.
With the help of a friend, Martin will mail in the registration forms for new voters. During the speeches, Martin registered over 30 people. She said the intersection of religion and politics is amplified by diversity.
“It's important for a lot of people to see someone who shares their same beliefs and the change they're looking for, the unity they're looking for,” she said.