The importance of a united faith community

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As I enter into the rush of midterms during my second-to-last semester of college, I can’t help but to reflect on the events that have shaped my Mercer experience. From football games to Pilgrimage to Penfield to Mercer Service Saturdays, there’s just so much to experience in our own little bubble of paradise. One event, however, that has definitely been one of the most enriching for me is the once-a-semester Unity Service organized by Dr. John Dunaway and the Building the Beloved Community planning committee.

Here, in the City of Macon, where once you step outside the Mercer bubble, the racial divide between black and white becomes as apparent as the sun in the sky, race, whether we choose to accept it or not, still seems to have an effect on our day-to-day interactions with people. One particular area in which this is especially true is where we practice our faith and worship.

Aside from a few churches scattered about in Macon with mixed-race congregations, such as Harvest Cathedral or St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, most churches are either predominantly white or predominantly black. A personal wish of mine is that, one day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a beloved community would manifest itself here in our humble little city. What does a “beloved community” entail exactly? To me, it means people of different races co-existing not only peacefully but happily together. One part of this is black people and white people worshipping together.

It’s true. White people and black people have different styles of worship, different hymns that they prefer, and different ways by which they give glory to the God whom they worship. The key thing to remember, though, is that all Christians worship the same God. Is it too much to ask for one day a semester, when we set aside our differences, and come together to worship our God together?

Now, we, once again, have that chance. This coming Sunday, Oct. 12, this semester’s Unity Service will be held at Greater Allen AME Church at 269 Pursley Street in Macon’s historic Pleasant Hill neighborhood. It will be at 6:00 PM and is hosted by the Beloved Community Paired Clergy and Rev. Billy G. McFadden. Rev. Dr. Andrew Manis, author of Macon Black and White: An Unutterable Separation in the American Century will deliver a sermon entitled “Wrestling with Race and Reconciliation.”

At the service, I will have a speaking role, announcing the purpose for the occasion and explaining the importance of God’s people worshipping together in the same house, regardless of race, creed, or background. Come and enjoy different styles of music and worship in the presence of a variety of people of different backgrounds.

President Underwood has made a point of requesting student presence at this event. I encourage every Mercer student to consider spending their Sunday evening worshipping in the manifestation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a Beloved Community. Come on out. You won’t be disappointed.

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