Goal of annual picnic is racial harmony

Published 8:20 pm Friday, September 30, 2016

With a vision of creating racial harmony, a group of local pastors decided to unite, and two years ago the first Racial Harmony Picnic was held at the City Pavilion.

Today, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the third annual event will be held at Crossway Church and expectations are high.

Each year the number of participants has grown, and this year we are anticipating an even bigger crowd, the pastor of Word of Faith Church Reginald Walker said.

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“The first year participation was predominately African-American. The second year it was more like 80/20, and this year we think the numbers will be closer to 50/50,” Walker said.

Brian Ivey, who is the pastor at Highland Baptist Church, said the idea of hosting events that crossed racial lines grew out of Mission Mississippi gatherings that local pastors have been attending.

“The group has been working together with Mission Mississippi to help build relationships,” Ivey said.

Mission Mississippi is an organization that has been working towards racial reconciliation in Mississippi for the past 23 years.

Since October has been proclaimed Racial Reconciliation month, for the past few years, the local pastors, who have been participating at the Mission Mississippi gatherings have been offering events for the community, Ivey said.

“We had been doing some joint worship services in October and did that for a few years, but it seemed like we could do more by offering a fellowship time where people could make friends,” Ivey said, adding that the group felt like by having an informal event like a picnic, this would allow people to get to know one another better.

“In order for the walls of prejudice to be broken people need to feel safe, and the picnic is a way that can happen,” Walker said.

Saturday’s event will include relay races, family friendly games, bouncy houses for toddlers and a short program on racial reconciliation.

In an effort to promote diverse friendships, Walker said the relay teams would be divided equally by race.

“Sports is the best destroyer of racial divide. When you put on a team color, skin color goes away,” he said.

In addition to Ivey, Walker and their respective churches, other churches and clergy participating will be Dr. Olie Hardaway of Faith Christian Center; the Rev. Mitchell Dent of Mount Carmel Ministries; the Rev. Randy Burge of New Christian Fellowship in Port Gibson; the Rev. Richard Johnson of Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church; the Rev. Dexter Jones of Triumphant Missionary Baptist Church; pastor Terry White of Crossway; Linda Sweezer of House of Peace Worship Center; pastor Mike Fields of Triumph Church; the Rev. Margaret Ayers of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and the Rev. Beth Palmer of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Episcopal.

The participating churches will be providing the meat and soft drinks for the picnic Ivey said, and everyone else attending is encouraged to bring a side dish.

However, if someone feels the urge to bring some barbeque ribs, Walker said there would be no problem adding them to the picnic table.

Saturday’s event will also include a dessert-baking contest.

“It is one of the fun things we do,” Ivey said.

For those bringing desserts to the picnic, these items can be entered into the contest. Following the judging, the homemade goodies will then become fair game for all to enjoy.

Crossway church is at 1825 U.S. Highway 61 and for more information, call 601-638-2500.


About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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