USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

Two pastors reach across the racial divide

Two pastors reach across the racial divide

Two pastors reach across the racial divide

Executive Director of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement Rev. Mark Whitlock was featured in an OC Register article that discusses his efforts to decrease racial tensions between Latinos and African-Americans in Southern California.

Working with pastor Santos Chavez, 44, the two men have begun ministering at L.A Country Jails in an attempts to build bridges and decrease violence within the two races.

An excerpt from the article:

The racial divide between some African Americans and Latinos has a new bridge, and it’s built in the unlikeliest of places – our county jails.

For two decades, 32 Latino lay chaplains have ministered in Orange County jails. Most are former gang members, many have criminal records.

A few months ago, an administrator realized that many of the volunteers’ backgrounds violated jail policy, and the lay chaplains were removed.

Concerned, pastor Santos Chavez of Street Light Church in Westminster reached out to the most influential minister he knew – a man whom during Chavez’s gangbanging days he wouldn’t have considered talking to – a black man.

The Rev. Mark Whitlock of Christ Our Redeemer Church in Irvine agreed to help. He knew that people with street smarts are more easily accepted by inmates. He also saw a greater mission.

Collaborating with Chavez was an opportunity to build relations between blacks and browns who sometimes battle over nothing more than the color of skin.

Read the rest of the article here.