Black Pastor Bridges Racial Chasm by Reaching North Carolina's
by Stephen J. Litde, Raleigh, N.C.
Garland Hunt-once a fan of Louis Farrakhan-is encouraging reconciliation among pastors
in the Raleigh area
Walk into the storefront church on St. Albans Drive in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday morning
and you'll find about 150 African Americans worshiping alongside a sprinkling of whites
and Hispanics in a service that's heavy on music and deep in message. In the evening,
visitors would see about 30 Hispanic people worshiping in Spanish and hearing the same
message translated by a Puerto Rican elder.
It's the Raleigh International Church (RIC) by day, La Iglesia Internacionale de
Raleigh by night. And behind it all is a pastor whose heart beats for racial
reconciliation among all God's people. Meet Garland Hunt.
"Our vision from the very beginning was for a multiracial church here-one that will
represent the nations worshiping the Lord together and one that will be a catalyst for
revival in the area," said Hunt, 38.
Hunt, also an attorney, keeps busy pursuing his goals of racial reconciliation and
revival by working as a regional Promise Keepers speaker and executive vice president for
Wellington Boone Ministries.
The ministry begins at home with RIC's Hispanic congregation. The church gives needy
members free food and clothing and is working to bring in bilingual volunteers to teach
English. Separate services are necessary because of the language barrier, but Hunt's goal
is to integrate the two congregations. It's a unique ministry, a black church with a
Hispanic outreach, but it fits with Hunt's God-given call to foster Christian community
among the races.
Hunt's move to unite races is a huge turnaround from his militant past. As a radical
Howard University student, Hunt wanted to change society through social activism. In fact,
he once invited Louis Farrakhan to speak at an assembly and prayed beforehand that God
would speak through the Nation of Islam leader.
At that time Hunt's perspective focused solely on the black community. "I wanted
justice for the African American community, but I was excluding God from the
Even after becoming a Christian he struggled with bitter memories of his Atlanta childhood
during the Civil Rights movement and the impact of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death on his
mother. "I carried over my prejudice into my Christianity. I wanted to hear the
gospel only through a black voice and turned away from any one white," Hunt told
His attitudes began changing after he was baptized in the Holy Spirit. It took more
than three years for a hunger for righteousness to replace the desire to protect his race.
"I realized I should be seeking not a road of justice but a road of
righteousness," he explained. "So instead of just a ministry for one race, it
ended up being a ministry of reconciliation."
In 1985 Hunt hooked up with Wellington Boone Ministries to expand New Generation Campus
Ministries, an outreach to black college students. In seven years the ministry grew to
more than 50 college campuses nationwide, and the work often took him to Raleigh.
Local ministers encouraged him to start a church there, and in 1993 he began RIC. "We
really felt not just called to start one local church. We felt called to the city,"
Seven times a day on three radio stations Hunt's Reconciling Raleigh broadcasts are beamed
to the city. The 10 minute program exhorts Christians, pastors and lay ministers to bridge
racial and denominational divisions.
On occasion he has advised and prayed with Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer. It's part of Hunt's
call, he believes, to speak the Word of God to those in leadership. "Men of God have
to supersede the political and give the Lord's direction for a city," he said.
Hunt's involvement in a pastors' prayer group has been instrumental in bringing more
white and black pastors together, said Raleigh Concerts of Prayer director Don
Rayno. With local layminister Freddy Johnson, Hunt took the lead in encouraging pastors to
attend the 1996 Promise Keepers Pastors Conference in Atlanta. The conference was a
breakthrough in racial reconciliation among the Raleigh pastors.
Out of that came Pastors for Awakening and Reconciliation, a racially mixed group of
about 100 Raleigh church leaders who meet monthly to pray. The group recently sponsored
the Unity and Harmony 2000 Conference, an event that brought 6,000 people from 150
churches to hear Dallas preacher Tony Evans deliver a message on racial healing.
The conference was an important step in Hunt's dream to see the city's churches
reconciled. "We have never had a citywide meeting like that before, he said. "I
believe we are seeing the beginnings of revival."
Reprinted by permission of Charisma. Strang Communications