Clergy appreciation dinner becomes revival for Vicksburg area churches

Published 4:00 am Sunday, June 12, 2022

The pastors and representatives from 14 Vicksburg area churches gathered at the Vicksburg Convention Center Thursday night for dinner that turned into a revival as guest speaker Dr. Fairest Hill, an international motivational speaker and recording artist, revved them up for 2023.

Moving about the room interacting with diners and at times pointing at others, Hill used song and scripture and group participation to bring a message of optimism to the estimated 100 people attending the event and at times had people standing at their tables.


Calling on diners to “C’mon! C’mon! C’mon!” Hill had them reading slogans and scriptures out loud.

Looking at a document displayed on a viewing screen, Hill told the group, “This is a decree that your mayor and his staff (prepared).”

Calling on the group to read it, he said, “Let’s speak it over the city that we have been champions; we’re going to win over this. We decree and declare that we, the city of Vicksburg, are champions over domestic violence, police brutality, drugs and alcohol abuse, gang violence, illiteracy in schools; we decree it.

“I decree the message of God on our students and teachers in nursery schools, pre-K, kindergarten, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and universities. I decree protection over them in the classrooms. … Holy Spirit, keep them free from all forms of violence.

“I decree in 2022 new beginnings, new expectations, new experiences, new opportunities, new businesses, new relationships.”

The dinner, sponsored by the city of Vicksburg and Champions for Health was held to tell the church groups “thank you,” for their participation in bringing Champions’ programs to their community.

Champions for Health Director Felicia Kent said the faith-based organizations played a significant part in spreading health literacy and other programs.

“With the collaboration of the faith-based churches we were collectively able to serve over 2500 residents in Vicksburg,” she said.

She commended the churches for their help, telling the pastors and members, “You are why we are here. … you have planted the seeds and we will reap the harvest next year.”

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. told the group, “Had it not been for you and Ms. Kent and others, we couldn’t have done this (the outreach program). The faith-based ministries have always been a part of what is good and what is right for society.

“We come here to show our appreciation but more important to honor you for what you’ve done for our community and what you’re doing,” he added.

Before the dinner, Kent said the churches have always served as the cornerstone of strength in the community.

“Back when we started the grant, the mayor came to me with the idea of enhancing the program with the faith-based community because that was not part of the initial grant; that was when we expanded our efforts to serve those in the community,” she said.

The events that led to the faith-based program began in October when the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a partnership with the Vicksburg Ministerial Alliance and the COVID program. Through that partnership, Kent said, the 14 churches became part of the alliance.

“We did a memorandum of understanding with the churches and each church was responsible for conducting three community-wide COVID-19 health literacy events in their respective communities,” she said.

The churches, Kent said, developed literacy outreach events, health disparity events and social determinants of health events that dealt with rental assistance, food giveaways, clothes giveaways and health screenings in the community.

The programs, she said, were led by the pastors and the church members coordinated the events.

“Through our efforts with the churches we’ve been able to increase their capacity to organize and conduct outreach programs that are evidence-based,” Kent said. “Through our efforts and through our training and seminars, we were able to increase their capacity to evidence-based outreach programming.”

She said evidence-based programs are designed to change patterns of behavior, adding the combination of the Champions project and assistance from Jackson State University “we were able to do assessments to determine if the events had an impact on the community.”

The churches and pastors recognized Thursday were:

• Cool Springs MB Church, Rev. Byron Maxwell

• Bright Morning Star Baptist Church, Rev. Reggie Harris

• Faith Christian Center, Rev. Ollie Hardaway

• Greater Grove St. MB Church, Rev. Casey Fisher

• Greater Rose Hill MB Church, Rev. Walter Weathersby

• Mount Carmel Ministries, Rev. Mitchell Dent

• New Beginning Church in Christ, Rev. James Bowman

• Pleasant Green MB Church, Rev. Jeffrey Stafford

• St. James AME Church, Rev. Beverly Baskin

• Travis Chapel AME Church, Rev. Beverly Baskin

• Trinity Temple Baptist Church, Rev. James Archer

• Triumphant Baptist Church, Rev. Dexter Jones

• The Vicksburg Ministerial Alliance, Bishop Ronnie C. Crudup Sr.

• Word of Faith Christian Center, Rev. Reginald Walker

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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