The Rev. Tony Scott feels a calling to work for racial reconciliation based on a prophecy he received 15 years ago that was made clear to him after the trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.
Pastor Scott speaks his prophecy in “G-Race,” a series of sermons about racial reconciliation that he started preaching Sept. 21 at The Church on Strayer, 3000 Strayer Rd., Maumee.
Three things came together for him to realize that his prophecy is to speak on racial reconciliation. First, in 1998, he had been out of town speaking at a missions conference. He said that as he was leaving the event to return to Toledo, a woman told him, “The lord spoke to me and gave me this word for you.” Pastor Scott excused himself because he had to get to the airport and he asked the woman to mail him the message.
That night in Toledo, Pastor Scott was at a conference where the televangelist Kenneth Copeland spoke. “Kenneth Copeland gives this powerful word that there was a harvest that was coming. He didn't say a harvest for you or for the church; he just said a harvest 'more than your wildest dreams could ever have calculated.' I'm sitting there and I don't even think about that morning; that's the furthest thing from my mind. Even after I got her letter in the mail a week later, still didn't connect it. They were two separate events and I go through 15 years thinking that.”
Pastor Scott cites Revelation 10:8-11 from the Christian Testament as the woman's word. That Bible book describes a revelation of Jesus that the book's author, named John, says he saw. The verses Pastor Scott said he received describe the vision of an angel giving John a book which John ate; the angel said it would taste “sweet as honey” but “make thy belly bitter.” In verse 11 John says that the angel told him, “Thou must prophesy again before many people, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”
For 15 years, “I sat on [the revelation] because God never told me to do anything with it,” Pastor Scott said. “But on July 13 this year, sitting in my den, the Trayvon Martin verdict was read and the lord spoke to my heart and he said, 'I want you to release the message that I gave you.'”
The next day Pastor Scott said to the congregation, “I am going to ask you to pray with me and help me to enter into a time when we address racial reconciliation. I don't want to talk about racial discrimination; I want to talk about racial reconciliation. I want to present a positive message from the word of God. I don't know what this is but I'm going to find it and God's going to help us.”
So he started to figure out what Grace, G-Race, God Race — three interpretations from his church's creative team— “would look like in Toledo.” He consulted his friend of more than 30 years, the Rev. Robert Culp, pastor of First Church of God in Toledo. Pastor Scott is white; Pastor Culp is African-American.
Pastor Culp is part of a group from the Toledo Community Coalition and The Blade that is working to address racial issues in Toledo. Pastor Culp invited Pastor Scott to “Changing Minds and Changing Lives: Combating Racism,” a forum the coalition and The Blade hosted Sept. 12, when antiracism advocate Tim Wise spoke.
“I thought it was a great meeting, the guy did a great job speaking, excellent,” Pastor Scott said. “The only thing I thought was missing from that night, the only thing that I thought could have added to that, was, like we do here, I don't want you to leave the church without some next steps.'”
He and Pastor Culp continue to speak about how they can work together. “I see an expanding of our relationship and activity, specifically in this whole arena of race relations,” Pastor Culp said.
Pastor Scott and Pastor Culp planned a breakfast with other pastors Thursday to advance cross-cultural relations in the Toledo area and to see if churches with little diversity in the congregation can work together. The breakfast was was “a conversation to say, 'How do we do what they did in Sanford?' How about us ministers all stepping across the aisle and cultivating a personal relationship with someone of a different ethnicity than we are, and let's see where this will go," Pastor Scott said.
“If the church does not step up and buy into the ministry of reconciliation from the word of God, then races will not be reconciled in America," he said. "It's that simple. I know of no other solution.” He wants congregations to say, “We're going to worship together, we're going to love each other, we're going to be friends with each other. Period.”
“The pride I take in it is maybe, just maybe, it's just one of those seasons of life where I've connected with God somehow from a 15-year-old word that he gave me, and he's going to do something with this,” Pastor Scott said. “I don't know what. I don't have an agenda, I don't have a plan, I don't know how long I'm going to be speaking on this, and I've told the church that."
Services at the church are a 6 p.m. Saturdays and 9 and 11 am Sundays.
TK Barger is a participant in the planning and antiracism efforts of The Blade and the Toledo Community Coalition.