“Pastor Bates has served at Ebenezer Baptist Church for 11 years. He sees his pastoral role as one of influencing the influencers, of being an authentic voice for God to speak truth to people in power within the community. Originally from Ohio, he moved to Charlottesville knowing he was entering a state with a unique religious and social history. He has endeavored to promote change regarding racial issues.
At the heart of these efforts, he believes, are relationships, so his focus has consistently been on establishing and cultivating relationships with others and, in turn, promoting conversation and understanding. Some of these relationships have been with fellow pastors, such as Kyle, who lead largely white churches. I recently sat down with Pastor Bates to ask about his relationship-building experiences and how he thinks white pastors can engage racial issues in helpful ways. Specifically, what pitfalls should mostly white churches avoid? Here are his thoughts.“