A San Diego pastor got nearly 200 churches across the nation to have a tough conversation Saturday about racial division in our country.
The open conversation is called "A Race for Unity" and more than 2,800 people of all different backgrounds and ethnicities participated.
The Rock Church Pastor Miles McPherson was asking people to honestly examine their fear, anger, pain associated with these differences in an effort to end racial division.
"What side are you on? That's the question you'll get asked and you're going to have to decide or you have an option, one or the other,” Miles McPherson said. “The third option is different. The third option is, ‘Well before we pick a side, let's understand what we don't understand.’"
Race should not be looked at as "us" versus "them,” he said. His book, “The Third Option: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation,” offers another option — a third option of seeing the other person who is just like you.
"I feel like he's opened a door for conversations to happen,” Rock Church congregant Marion George said. “I feel people like for years have just been held hostage by what society says."
The talk was simulcast to 192 churches across the nation. San Diego police Chief David Nisleit was also at the event and spoke about the importance of having these conversations.
"We just have conversations and after a while, you don't even realize that you're breaking down those barriers,” he said. “You realized, ‘Hey, I'm no different from the person sitting across from you.’ Might be a black person, might be a Hispanic might be another white person but we're all the same. We all have the same dreams we all have the same goals we just want to live together in unity."
Unity was the theme that ran through the entire program. After the two-hour presentation, people were asked to break off into groups to have their own personal conversations with complete strangers of different ethnicities.
They were also encouraged to keep in contact with each other for well after the presentation.
Many at the event said unity in a seemingly deeply divided country may be hard to achieve but this was a promising first step.
“There’s some uncomfortable conversation that we’re having in there about our own experiences and being courageous to having those conversations and even invite those conversations in our classrooms with our kids,” one churchgoer told NBC 7. “How much better we will be at understanding and appreciating our brothers and sisters and neighbors.”