Unity Table Brings Together People of Different Backgrounds

Unity Table // photo Kathy Tran
Unity Table // photo Kathy Tran

Dr. Conway Edwards, lead pastor at Plano’s One Community Church, believes that proximity leads to empathy. 

As a response to the long lasting racial tension in America, he and a group of other pastors started the Unity Table, a movement that encourages people to share a meal with someone from a different ethnic or cultural background every fifth weekend.

The idea came as a response to the headlines. George Floyd had become the latest of many Black citizens to die an unjust death. Dr. Edwards wondered how the Christian church could offer an answer to this issue, so he and his fellow pastors gathered their congregants to pray at the Collin County Courthouse June 4.

This was no easy time for a large gathering. The stay-at-home orders were just beginning to lift, and many people still felt uncomfortable in groups. Dr. Edwards, however, believed it was all divine timing.

“For the first time in a long time,” he said, “everything stopped, and all we had to do was take a look at the raw facts about racism and injustice.”

Dr. Edwards and his cohorts did not want to stop fighting for change after a single event, though. They wanted something that would empower people to keep working toward a solution even after the news cycle moved on. 

Dr. Conway Edwards at Planos Hungry for Change rally on June 7 // photo Jennifer Shertzer
Dr. Conway Edwards at Plano’s Hungry for Change rally June 7 // photo Jennifer Shertzer

That’s why Dr. Edwards, with the help of Chase Oaks pastor Jeff Jones and other members of the group, came up with the Unity Table: to encourage the kind of proximity that leads to empathy. 

“The closer I see a face behind the person that I might feel different toward,” said Dr. Edwards, “the more I can empathize with where [they] are coming from.”

Though the idea came from churches, it is not limited to church members. Dr. Edwards hopes it will help everyone in Collin County move forward together.

Join Unity Table

Joining Unity Table is simple. Just have a meal with someone from a different background than yourself every fifth weekend. This can be done virtually over Zoom or FaceTime while COVID-19 is still a concern. The staff at One Community Church has put together a booklet with discussion questions and other resources online, but Dr. Edwards encourages participants to get to know one another before diving into what he calls “the hot topics.” The booklet also includes materials for families to use with their children, another thing Dr. Edwards believes is necessary for long-term change. 

One Community Church hopes to expand the Unity Table by having future events where people can meet other participants. The Facebook page and newsletter give updates and reminders for people interested in following along. 

The path is long, but he and his team believe it starts with empathy. “I think the way to stop [racism and injustice] is by letting people see other people… to seek understanding before you just judge them unfairly,” he said. That’s what the Unity Table is all about.

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