CINCINNATI - When angry residents took to the streets of Cincinnati to protest the shooting of Timothy Thomas at the hands of a Cincinnati police officer, there were some religious leaders among them.
Jewish, Catholic, Baptist, Protestant and others came together calling for change.
The religious community is not only working within the church, but in college classrooms to make a positive difference in the community.
Many churches have continued their mission to try to make everyone's life, especially the poor, better than it was before April 2001.
We introduce you to a church that is still committed 10 years later, even through the loss of some members who walked out when African-Americans started showing up for service.
Before the death of Timothy Thomas on April 7, 2001, First Christian Assembly of God was like many churches on the streets of Cincinnati and around the country, segregated on Sunday mornings.
"In 2000 our church was 98 percent caucasian," said Associate Pastor Tom Baxter.
Baxter says God had already begun to call for change at the church before the riots.
"God started speaking to our lead pastor, Chris Beard, to give him a vision to be a racially reconciled church and in April 2001, the week of the race riots, we hired our first African-American pastor Ezra Mays," said Baxter.
One of the first things the church did was to simply start talking. However, the talks centered around a subject that makes many people uncomfortable.
They started talking about race. First Christian says its also worked with other churches in Cincinnati including Christ Emmanuel, Southern Baptist, and Tryed Stone Missionary Baptist Church to reach out to the minority community and to offer hope to all residents.
"We took the whole church through a class called the vision experience, which was 20 weeks long of people really intensively talking about race relations and how we're different. How people think differently. How people grew up differently," said Pastor Brandon Wilkes.
The mission moved beyond the doors of the church at the corner of William Howard Taft Road in Clifton.
The church adopted Taft Elementary School and began hosting programs at the predominately african-american school.
"We lost about 10 to 15 percent of our church because they really didn't understand and not that they had racial angst or (were) racist, some may have been, we don't know those, but some people thought it was just too difficult to talk about those things," said Wilkes.
They're also talking about race inside a classroom at Xavier University where the professor is teaching a course on african-american biblical interpretation. It may surprise you that the idea for the course came from a white biblical scholar.
"I heard about the shooting of Timothy Thomas on the news and was very concerned about it," said Sarah Melcher, Ph.D. Xavier University Theology chair. "Then Father Graham here at Xavier, the president had a talk back session and I heard a lot about African-American students about their experience during the demonstrations and how they were pulled over, questioned by the police."
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Dr. Sarah Melcher says she decided one way to get involved was by teaching a course centered around african religion and african american writings.
Some students believe the course, which is sometimes taught with the assistance of Rabbi Abie Ingber, is helping to open their and their classmates' eyes to what it's like to live as a minority in the united states.
"The class actually opens up their awareness of how things are because a lot of people, they really don't take notice of what's going on," said student Brittany Thomas. "I think the class does a good job of helping show people that this is a real issue and it does happen everyday."
"I'm actually not from Cincinnati," said student Kristen Rogers. "After being in this class and actually hearing about the race riots and everything that happened, it just gave me a totally different perspective here about the Cincinnati area and also about what people in the community are doing to change what happened."
Dr. Melcher's class has become so popular, that it's now often filled to capacity each semester. She is hopeful it's making a difference in the community.
"I think that the material that we read in the course, these pamphlets of protest," said Dr. Melcher. "I think they give voice to discouragement and if one wants to get over being discouraged, you have to give voice to it."
Remember some of the church members who were discouraged by the changes at First Christian and decided to worship somewhere else?
The pastors say some have returned to continue the conversation on race.
"It was 98 percent