MegaFest 2013 - Day 1

Source: Cooper Neill / Getty

It was Thursday evening, and pastor T.D. Jakes was at home, laying out his clothes for the next day, when he saw the first live TV scenes of a sniper targeting officers who had been escorting a downtown rally against police violence across the nation.

By the time the rampage ended, five officers were dead. And Jakes, pastor of the city’s 30,000-member The Potter’s House megachurch, was devastated.

“It took me back to the assassination of President Kennedy,” he said, horrific bloodshed that occurred only blocks from where the president’s motorcade had passed more than a half-century before. “It was deeply disturbing.”

On Sunday, Jakes turned his regular service into a town hall meeting, inviting into the pulpit Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Mayor Mike Rawlings and Saundra Sterling, the mother of the 37-year-old black man who Tuesday was fatally shot by white officers in Baton Rouge, La.

Alton Sterling’s death was captured on video, as was the death of 32-year-old Philando Castile the next day in Falcon Heights, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul. Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish “Diamond” Reynolds, who live-streamed the fatal police shooting, called in to the Sunday morning service, telling the congregation that “the police are supposed to protect us. … This shouldn’t have happened.”

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Pastor T. D. Jakes pray at The Potter's House during the church's Sunday service. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

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