Kickoff A Success. What’s Next?

The Year of Unity (YOU) was successfully launched on January 24 at the Belo Mansion. Over 70 business, law enforcement, community, philanthropic and faith leaders were present to learn about Project Unity and the YOU initiative including Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dr. Hinojosa, Dr. Gerald Turner, and a host of our Honorary Co-Chairs and Ambassadors. Thanks to everyone who was able to attend the press conference and the luncheon. Click here to view an excerpt of the press event. So we launched the Year of Unity, but what’s next?

Since the launch event the team has been busy working with Honorary Co-Chairs, Ambassadors and community partners exploring programming ideas, initiating event plans, and leveraging existing programs that focus on race relations and community building. We are excited about the programs and events being developed with partners including the Dallas Arts District, SMU, Dallas Mavericks, American Airlines Center, United Way, State Fair of Texas and others.

Getting Involved

YOU Honorary Co-Chairs and Ambassadors Help Make Plans YOU programs and events begin this month. Honorary Co-Chairs and Ambassadors are helping to lead the way!

Together We Worship On Sunday, March 26th, more than 20 pastors across Dallas will swap pulpits and minister to congregations whose majority membership is different than their own. YOU Ambassadors Pastor Jeff Warren and Pastor Bryan Carter are coordinating the swap. “The pulpit swap is a day for the Body of Christ to show solidarity, uniting the Church across greater Dallas. I believe there has never been a more important time for churches to come together across racial lines than right now. The pulpit swap ignites a fire of unifying relationships and on-going ministries for the advancement of the Gospel,” Pastor Warren.

Together We Dine On Wednesday, March 29, the YOU and Faith Forward Dallas will host a multi-faith lunch and dialogue for area faith leaders. This effort is being spearheaded by YOU Honorary Co-Chair Almas Muscatwalla.

Together We Learn On Saturday, April 1, the YOU will host Together We Learn, a program where law enforcement will dialogue with Dallas teens between the ages of 16-18 in a positive forum and provide practical instruction on how to act and react during traffic and pedestrian stops. This program is in partnership with the Black Police Association, DISD, Sewell Lexus Dallas and United Way Dallas. Thanks to the leadership of YOU Ambassadors Malik Aziz, Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Eric McHenry and Susan Hoff respectively. The program takes place at St. Paul UMC from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Together We Learn will benefit all teens. Please consider registering teens from your church, family or school to attend. An event flyer is attached for distribution. Register a teen today for this important and free event at For more information on any of these programs, please contact us and learn how to get involved! Partner Events Spread the Word…

Saturday, March 25 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Dallas Police Chief on the Beat Crime Prevention Safety & Health Fair of 2017 Lakewest YMCA 3737 Goldman St. Dallas, TX 75212 Contact the Office of Community Affairs at 214-671-4045 | @DPDCA

Sunday, April 2 5 p.m. St. Andrew UMC, Plano ”Gospel Mass” and Racial Reconciliation Discussion St Andrew’s Chancel Choir and St. Luke UMC’s choir will present Robert Ray’s acclaimed “Gospel Mass”. Internationally known gospel singer Cynthia Wilson will serve as the evening’s soloist. Interspersed between songs will be conversations on the topic of racial reconciliation and where the church is called to respond to the divides that still exist in our society. Contact Associate Pastor Jimmy Decker at 214-291-8007


Making Headlines The Ones to Know Earlier this month, Pastor Richie Butler, Founder of Project Unity and Senior Pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church, was featured on the CBS11 segment of “The Ones to Know”. Listen to his story and the journey he has taken to not only rebuild the 143-year old church, but the movement he is building -- Project Unity’s Year of Unity. Click Here to view the story online.

Project Unity to Address Interstate Batteries Employees On Tuesday, March 21, Pastor Richie Butler will speak to the employees at Interstate Batteries as part of their monthly speaking engagement program for Interstate Team Members.

Attendees will be challenged with the statement and question -- “What unites us is greater than what divides us.” Powerful words . . . but how do we see this materialize in our community today? He will share his personal purpose, his efforts to create a more conscious city of Dallas and how it all feeds into the Year of Unity movement. This opportunity was made possible by YOU Ambassador Samantha Goldstein, Cultural Ambassador, Interstate Batteries.

Richie Butler’s Year of Unity Even Has an Ex‑President on Board

NTC Connection Editor

Ever since the killing of five police officers in an ambush July 7, 2016, the city of Dallas has been on a journey of racial healing.

One North Texas Conference United Methodist pastor, the Rev. Richie Butler of St. Paul UMC in the Arts District, has a vision to push racial unity to the next level — the Year of Unity, or YOU. And he has some powerful help, including former President George W. Bush, the honorary chairman; Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings; and NTC Bishop Michael McKee.

On January 24, 2017, Rev. Butler, surrounded by community leaders, unveiled his plan for YOU at a news conference. YOU is a collaborative movement among Dallas-area religious, business, civic, philanthropic, grass-roots and government organizations, based on the faith-driven belief that what unites us is greater than what divides us.

Its mission includes dialogue and community-building events, education and empowerment. The events will carry the “Together We” theme, borrowed from the annual Together We Ball basketball game between police and pastors. The agenda includes, for instance, Together We Pray, and on the first anniversary of the shootings, Together We Heal.

“Dallas is great about problem-solving,” Mayor Rawlings said. “When we see a problem, we do something. When we see a piece of trash, we lean over and pick it up.

“Pastor Butler grabbed me in the Admirals Club [the American Airlines lounge] in New York right after the July shootings. And he said, ‘Come here, I have an idea and we are going to do this. There have been business meetings and church meetings. But we as a city need to come together.’

“I said, ‘If you will lead it, I will follow.’ We all need to follow what he has done.”

Butler said, “The divide that we are experiencing as a community cannot be fixed by one person or one group, by City Hall or by St. Paul UMC. It’s a divide that will only be fixed when all of us come together and unite. Together we can learn how to understand our differences. Together we can identify real solutions to systemic problems. Together we can begin to heal the pain that has been awakened.

“That is what the Year of Unity is all about. By just being together, looking at someone who looks different than you, talking to someone who talks different than you, seeing someone who see things differently than you, we will begin to understand each other and unite in our quest and hope for a better community, a stronger community.”

Numerous M­ethodists are YOU Ambassadors, including Metro District Superintendent Cammy Gaston and the Rev. Paul Rasmussen, senior pastor of Highland Park UMC.

The Year of Unity falls under Butler’s Project Unity organization, operating under the nonprofit umbrella group Union Development Group.

Link To Article

Since I can't sing Kumbaya, I'll sing praises for a Dallas pastor's plan for a Year of Unity

(Dallas Morning News | James Ragland, Columnist | Commentary) I was just about ready to sing Kumbaya until the pastor, who apparently has heard me hum a few bars, saved the day.

“We’re not here to sing Kumbaya,” the Rev. Richie Butler, senior pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church, told those gathered Tuesday morning at the Belo Mansion to talk about Butler’s pet project — the Year of Unity.

The YOU, as Butler succinctly calls it, is one of those acronyms that suggests no one is off the hook. And if Butler has his way, you, I, the 43rd president of the United States — all of us — will come together as partners in a yearlong mission to improve race relations in Dallas and beyond.

The idea took root after five police officers were fatally shot last summer by a deranged Army Reservist who not only sabotaged a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas but sent the city and the nation into a tailspin.

The ambush happened in the heart of Dallas, but it drove a stake in the heart of our nation, putting a violent exclamation point on the escalating tensions between police and minority communities across the country.

In steps Butler, the dynamic, visionary leader of a historic black church founded by slaves, hoping to free us from ourselves and cleanse us of the racial toxicity that poisoned the air that day.

The lingering question, he said, is this: “How do we use this moment to lift us to a movement?”

Butler didn’t come down the mountain with a stone tablet in hand, but when he stepped up to the lectern, he was no less commanding. Over the course of the next year, he wants all of us to adhere to three golden rules: Listen. Learn. And Engage.

“Listen to somebody else’s story, somebody who doesn’t look like you, somebody who’s not from your neighborhood,” he said. “Learn — don’t prejudge or go on preconceived notions.”

And engage, he said, in deliberate, “intentional” activities aimed at bridging the racial and cultural divide.

Butler founded Project Unity, a program operating under the umbrella of the nonprofit Union Development Corp., as the vehicle to help deliver on his promises. He already has an impressive list of heavy hitters on board: Former President George W. Bush is honorary chair.

Honorary co-chairs include Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings; Olympic gold medalist Michelle Carter; Dallas entrepreneur Arcilia Acosta, the CEO of CARCON Industries and STL Engineers; Galileo Jumaoa, president of the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce; Almas Muscatwalla, co-chair of the Interfaith Council and board member of the Thanks-Giving Foundation; Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell; and Dr. Brian Williams, the associate professor of surgery at UT Southwestern who treated victims of the police ambush at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

What Butler and his team did is put together a series of programs and initiatives called “Together We,” which is designed to bring cross sections of the community together in different settings.

On July 8, “Together We Heal: A Day of Healing,” will bring law enforcement officers and residents together for a day of fun and reflection “to help our city heal.”

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, honorary co-chair of the Year of Unity, voices his support for the initiative and encourages Dallas residents to do their part to improve cultural and race relations in the city. (Rose Baca/Staff Photographer of The Dallas Morning News)

Another program, “Together We Learn,” will teach students —starting with about 300 from  Madison High School — how to respond to and interact with police during traffic and pedestrian stops.

“That’s where we are going to start, and we may expand from there,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, a Project Unity “ambassador.”

Rawlings said that the beauty of Project Unity is that it demands each of us to assume some responsibility for uniting the city.

“The great Satchel Paige once said that none of us is as great as all of us,” Rawlings said, adding. “The key is that when you realize you’re doing the right thing on ‘heart’ issues, you can accomplish it by coming together. That doesn’t mean you don’t have conflicts. I think conflict is a positive thing; it needs to be constructive conflict, though.”

The mayor, borrowing a page from the annual Dallas Dinner Table program that brings diverse folks together over a meal, said his “first step is to eat with people, to break bread with people I don’t normally break bread with.”

And then, channeling his enthusiasm toward me, Rawlings said “everybody” should break bread with someone from a different circle. “If we do that one thing, I think we’ll come together.”

One thing is certain: Nothing will get better if we don’t try.

Consider me a disciple of Butler’s healing gospel, which is grounded in one fundamental belief: “That which unites us,” Butler said, “is greater than what divides us.”

(You can find out more about Project Unity and The Year of Unity by visiting

Link To Article

Students, police officers meet for interactive workshop

(DISD | THE HUB) In December, about 30 Lincoln and Madison high school students participated in classroom instruction and interactions with Dallas Police officers to help bridge the gap between police and the community.

The African American Success Initiative helped host the event. The collaboration was designed to foster positive dialogue between Dallas youth and law enforcement officers, including about how to respond in traffic and pedestrian stops.

Called “Together We Learn,” the project combined efforts of the Dallas Police Department, the Black Police Officers Association of Greater Dallas, Dallas ISD’s African American Success Initiative and St. Paul United Methodist Church. The project, part of a larger initiative called the Year of Unity, also receives support from Sewell Lexus Dallas, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the State Fair of Texas. President George W. Bush has signed on as an official honorary chairman of the project.

Link To Article

A Year Of Unity To Be Announced By Dallas Leaders

Leadership Effort Will Address Growing Racial and Cultural Divide in Metroplex

What: The July 2016 ambush of Dallas police officers put the spotlight on the growing distrust and division between institutions and political systems with the minority community.  That event and others in our City and Country have brought public and private leadership, along with citizens, face to face with the issue of racial and cultural divide in Dallas. The Year of Unity (The YOU) is a year to champion intentional collaboration hosted by Project Unity, in partnership with corporations,groups, organizations and various segments of the community. Through intentional dialogue, community building, education and empowerment,The YOU aim to build and sustain a stronger, more united Dallas.


Who: The YOU is the heart-project of Rev. Richie Butler, Senior Pastor of St. Paul UMC and Founder of the not-for-profit PROJECT UNITY.  Butler released a partial listing of The YEAR OF UNITY supporters, including honorary chair Former President George W. Bush, as well as honorary co-chairs city of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Leading Latino Businesswoman Arcilia Acosta, Greater Asian Chamber of Commerce President Galileo Jumaoas, Interfaith Council Co-Chair Almas Muscatwalla; U.S. Olympic Women’s Champion Michelle Carter; President Michael Sorrell of Paul Quinn College; Dr. Brian Williams, UT Southwestern and a host of Ambassadors from all sectors of the city and community.  Leaders of The YOU movement will share details during presser of what Dallas can expect and how these leaders, who the financial partners are and what specific programs will champion the improvement of race relations.


Why: We can no longer ignore the great divide of race and culture in Dallas!  The prominence of racial concerns in North Texas is more visible than ever.  From police and community conflict to the great political divide of the recent presidential election, which has fueled rallies and marches for equality.  Our City is experiencing a DIVIDE that is front and center and to ignore it could cause great harm for generations to come.  The YOU presents a great OPPORTUNITY.

Who will be in attendance? More than 50 persons representing leading private and public groups and organizations from across the city will be in attendance for the Press Conference and about 100 Ambassadors are expected to attend the Launch Luncheon that immediately follows.  If media would like to stay for the luncheon you must RSVP.


When: Tues, Jan. 24, 2017 at 10:30 am. Press Conference /11 am Launch Luncheon

Where: Belo Mansion, 2101 Ross Avenue, Dallas

Media Contact: Toska Medlock Lee, 214.729.6144,