The shooting deaths of several unarmed men and lawmen in the line of duty recently raised a public outcry locally and nationally.

The shooting deaths of several unarmed men and lawmen in the line of duty recently raised a public outcry locally and nationally.
In the wake of these tragedies, two local ministers from two different races, have stepped to the plate to address race relations on a local and global scale. 
Freddy Smith, pastor of Gennesaret Missionary Baptist Church, said he reached out to Joey Dodson of First Baptist Church following the shooting of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the Dallas police officers to share his concerns regarding the tragedies.
“Joey had laid a foundation earlier this year when he hosted a forum. I thought it was really great because he brought in an outside voice and a white person to speak to white people about the issues and what they could do to help,” Smith said.
From this forum and after entering into prayer, Smith met with Dodson to share his concerns and plan a forum.
“The original intent was to intentionally target key figures in the community, such as individuals on the city board, the presidents of the universities and other key figures to work behind the scenes on ways we can really bring about racial reconciliation and some true racial unity in Arkadelphia,” Smith said.
The plans were later changed to have a community forum with an outside voice to include the entire community.
According to Smith, Dr. Rodney Woo was selected because of his expertise in community relations and his service to a church that serves parishioners of multiple ethnicities. 
“Dr. Woo was very intentional about the church he was pastoring in Houston. It was an entirely Anglo-Saxon congregation. He helped transition that church from being predominantly white to where they represent about 40 different nations today,” said Smith.
“We felt someone like that who has that experience can bring people together,” said Smith.
According to Smith, those who attend the forum are encouraged to share their frustrations, doubts and concerns.
Smith hopes the forum can bring some closure to local issues such as the naming of Pine Street, the treatment of children in the educational system and the discomfort some races have of worshipping with other races.
The forum will be held Wednesday at Gennesaret Baptist Church, located at 1751 Logan St., at 6 p.m.
“This is a small step in doing some things we are hoping to do. Hopefully we can do some educating. If we can transform their minds and engage their hearts, it will change their behaviors,” Smith said.
“Hopefully we can make individuals aware this does go on and you can’t stay in your corner and think this goes on everywhere else. We want to help individuals see this can happen here and how we can at least take preventative measures so that it won’t get out of control.”