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Thursday
Jan192017

Florida megachurch to host 'Under our Skin' forum on race and faith with Benjamin Watson, Tony Dungy

People, including a man wearing a confederate flag, hug after taking part in a prayer circle after a Black Lives Matter protest following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas, on July 10, 2016. (Carlo Allegri / Reuters)EEW Magazine News // Tyndale House

Share For many, America's racial divide is reduced to an argument, political position, or  debate on television.

But in February, respected leaders in the sports field will help move beyond debating to understanding different perspectives through Under Our Skin: A Forum on Race and Faith.

The forum was birthed out of a social media conversation.

In November 2014, Benjamin Watson, then a tight end with the New Orleans Saints, posted a Facebook essay expressing the different emotions he felt after a Ferguson, Mo., grand jury voted not to indict a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

Watson’s Facebook post, which effectively expressed an assortment of emotions that ranged from anger to embarrassment to hopelessness to hopefulness, was “liked” by nearly one million people.

One year later, Tyndale House Publishers released Watson’s Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race—and Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us. The highly regarded book, which has been referred to as part memoir and part social commentary, is a challenging look at race, bias, and justice.

On Thursday, February 16, 2017, Watson (now with the Baltimore Ravens) and other national thought leaders—including author and Hall of Fame football coach Tony Dungy, former NFL Walter Payton Man-of-the-Year award winner Warrick Dunn, Heisman Trophy winner and Executive Director of Desire Street Ministries Danny Wuerffel, author and speaker Mo Isom, Detroit pastor and author J. Kevin Butcher, and Executive Director of Restoration Academy Ben Sciacca—will come together at The Crossing Church in Tampa to discuss race and faith.

“I think it’s important for all of us to let down our guard, to show some empathy, and be open to someone else’s experience, even if it’s different from our own,” said Watson.

“Though our forum panelists won’t agree on everything, we’ll be intentional about having honest, heartfelt, and respectful dialogue. We all need a change of heart on the subject of race, and we all need to look introspectively. I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to see where our own lives intersect with this dialogue. Our greatest desire is to equip people who view the Under Our Skin forum with tools to help them engage in their own communities.”

While many similar forums often end with engaging discussion but no action, this forum will provide a call to action for forum attendees to take with them to their homes, churches, schools, and jobs so that this discussion can continue far beyond one three-hour event.

The event will be moderated by ESPN’s Sage Steele and music will be provided by Lizzy Cameron. In addition to the onsite event, the forum will be broadcast live via www.Livestream.com across the world.

More information is available at www.underourskinforum.com.

RELATED: TD Jakes tackles racism, discussions solutions to heal the divide

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