NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - African Methodist Episcopal church leaders meeting in New Orleans this week urge pastors to put faith and safety first. There are unexplained church burnings around the South more than a week after the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston.
"We do good to those who hate us," said Bishop Julius McAllister of the 8th Episcopal District.
He and other church leaders stood behind president Obama as he gave the Eulogy at Clementa Pinckney's funeral last week. A few days later, McAllister and the leaders of the AME church worldwide are in New Orleans for their Bishops Council. The group charts the church's next steps in volatile times. Senior Bishop John Bryant of the Chicago area says they must never back away from their primary job to minister to people and speak truth to power.
A church burned to the ground in Warrenville, S.C. hours before the president delivered the in Charleston. Five other black churches in the South burned as well in following days.
"Intimidation does not work," said Bishop McAllister. "It's been happening for generations."
Bishop Reginald Jackson serves as Bishop in Africa and is Chairman of Social Action in the AME church.
"Cameras, security guards. It's a matter of making sure people feel comfortable. If you can't feel comfortable in church, where can you feel comfortable?" he said.
The reality of today is staring the church leadership squarely in the face.
"Racism is still a problem in this country," Bishop Jackson said.