"One Nation Under God"
Many generations have recited those words.
President Donald Trump created a Faith Advisory Board. Local pastor Jentezen Franklin sits on it.
"I want to give wise counsel and represent all the people," Franklin said from the Gainesville campus of his church, Free Chapel.
He said the council has met four times so far and has bi-weekly phone calls with the White House. Franklin said he was unsure how to feel about Trump when they first met, but was surprised.
"To be honest, the first time I met with him I went in very undecided and wondering why am I here. When I sat down with him and heard him, he does care. He does care about the poor, he does care about the community," Franklin said in an interview with 11Alive's Cheryl Preheim.
Pastor Franklin describes himself as a conservative with strong convictions about abortions and who is thrilled about the president's Supreme Court pick. He openly encouraged his congregation of thousands to vote to reflect those issues.
On the board, Franklin said they discuss issues like the Supreme Court nominee and immigration.
IMMIGRATION IN A MULTI-CULTURAL CONGREGATION
Free Chapel's membership is built by people from many different cultures. The main campus is located in a city with a large Latino population and pastor Franklin said his job as a pastor is to "show people the love of God."
Preheim asked him about the fear of the unknown that permeates throughout the Latino community where some are wondering where compassion and policy meet.
"The precious Hispanic mother with her children who is crying and saying. 'I am afraid.' Well, she doesn’t have a voice, so those of us who have been given the responsibility of leadership have to be the voice of compassion -because these people matter, they are not throw aways. We can do this in a way where we protect our borders and protect our citizens," Franklin said.
"I know that conversation is going on. We need a pathway for these people contributing, being a blessing to society, good people. Let’s give it a little time because I know those conversations are taking place."
Franklin said he takes those conversations to the President "and he listens."
"I'm not here to defend him. I appreciate what he is doing in many cases, but I am here to speak for what I know as the truth," he said.
The pastor said the conversations the Faith Advisory Board has with Trump and his representatives are frank and range in topics because the congregations represented as so diverse.
"I am here to speak for all of them because they are all precious in God's eyes," he said.
FAITH'S SEAT THE THE POLITICAL TABLE
Franklin said faith must always have a voice in a nation under God and said he would have served under Hillary Clinton.
"I would be glad to be at that table because how can we ever come together if we don’t talk," he said.
That lack of talking to people who are different or have different vantage points is one reason why some say there are divides in this nation -- namely racial divides.
FAITH'S ROLE IN RACIAL DIVISION
"If I don’t talk to people who are different than me, how do I understand their world?"
That's a question Pastor Franklin and other faith leaders from across the country hope to address when they meet in Gainesville for a conversation about violence and other problems in cities called, A Celebration of Unity. Free Chapel is hosting this conversation that will also touch on race and division with the goal of finding a pathway to reconciliation.
"I believe that something good can come from all the division we are seeing and there is potential for America to be healed and for our cities to be blessed," he said.
The event is open for the public to attend in person or online where it will be streaming.
"When you begin to listen you begin to the see the middle ground," he said.
Free Chapel has five campuses in three states plus an online ministry that reaches thousands more people. This Sunday, the church is hosting the The Reconciled Church at 5 p.m. at their Gainesville campus at 3001 McEver Rd.
To register for the free event, click here.
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