[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Osu1QppWbAg&w=420&h=315] Written by SAIGU UCLA Intern, Grace Cho

After weeks of preparation, the SAIGU Campaign's Prayer Breakfast took place this past Monday February 27, 2012. The event was held at World Impact’s Teen Center in South LA, and brought together African-American and Korean-American faith leaders, as well as other groups from the Greater Los Angeles area to establish a foundation for racial reconciliation through prayer.

Hyepin Im, the founder and CEO of Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD) and SAIGU campaign director, introduced the morning by acknowledging that the “prayer and leadership [of those present] will make a tremendous impact for each of our communities and for this city.”

The morning progressed with faith leaders speaking off of their own experiences with the LA riots, the ways they have been striving to bring God’s transformation to the city, and the need for unity between African-American and Korean-American leaders. In addition, they taught from the story of Nehemiah, a biblical model for urban restoration.

Perhaps the most striking things about the morning were the diversity and the shared passions of the leaders present. Communication across language and cultural barriers took place through interpretation in Korean and English. Pastors, reverends, intellectuals, community organizers, and volunteers of all ages and of various denominational and ethnic backgrounds communicated their desire to unite discrete church bodies to transform this long-standing conflict for a larger mission of unity. Nods of assent and verbal encouragement were made throughout the morning from the diverse gathering.

Several speakers highlighted the need for churches to be engaged in the day-to-day as well as the punctuated needs of the city. Reverend Mark Whitlock of Christ Our Redeemer Church in Orange County challenged the leaders to be more present and active in their communities: “Civic engagement is really when we challenge Pharaoh to ‘Let my people go.’ That’s the stuff of Cesar Chavez; that’s the stuff of Martin Luther King Jr.”

Reverend Michael Mata highlighted the need for more impetus in organizing and mobilizing churches to do work in and between communities: “Twenty years later, we know that much has been accomplished, but the road to equity and justice is incomplete. And I stand here with Dr. Cornel West, a prisoner of hope, because I am still part of that journey.”

The next prayer breakfast will take place on March 26th. To attend the breakfast, please fill out the RSVP form under the "breakfasts" tab.