Blackbelt Christian Ministerial Association service is next week

Published 4:32 pm Friday, April 20, 2012

The Blackbelt Christian Ministerial Association will conduct the latest in its quarterly series of community worship services Sunday, April 29 at Fairhaven at 6 p.m.

The latest installment of the series will see Rev. Lacornia Harris deliver the sermon while the collaborative efforts of a number of local churches will see a large choir participating in the event.

“There’ll be one unified choir from all the churches that are participating,” Hank Atchison, co-president of the association, said. “Fairhaven’s music minister is the one who has kind of headed that up.”

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Harris, a community favorite for his work in a number of areas, is the latest in a line of local ministers who have headed up the occasions.

“We tried to keep it a pretty good balance between white pastor, black pastor. And Lacornia is awesome,” Atchison said. “He is such a super nice guy. I really think it is going to be big attendance there that night.”

The first community service of 2012 comes on the heels of a quartet of 2011 programs that helped to solidify the initiative’s place on the religious landscape of Demopolis and the surrounding communities.

Still, Atchison and other members of the association are clear in their stance that, while progress has been made toward the initiative’s goal, there remains plenty of work to do.

“The whole vision behind the ministerial association was to see not just some of the denominational walls come down, but also see the racial walls come down,” Atchison said. “Some of the most segregated times in our world are on Sunday mornings. We’ve seen that growing up where we have. But we are starting to see some of those tensions break.”

Atchison also stated his belief that the services have helped to blur the once-darkened lines between denominations and put many of the city’s religious community on the same page and in the same pews.

“It has really been good for us Baptists to worship with the Pentecostals and the Methodists,” Atchison said. “Because we tend to like to build up these walls and that is really just a terrible mindset. There are some doctrinal differences, but it is really about being a Christ follower.”

But, Atchison also knows that there is more work to be done on that front and in the way of bridging the chasm between the community’s predominantly black churches and its predominantly white ones.

“We’re still working and trying to figure out ways to break those walls,” Atchison said. “We don’t have to come together every Sunday. People are going to go where they are comfortable. But, if there is some tension, we’re trying to find some creative ways to work through those things.”

The April 29 service will also feature a children’s worship session as well as a nursery, aspects that were added during 2011 as the association began to look for ways to make attendance easier on families.

“This time it will be Fairhaven’s children’s ministry team,” Atchison said of the children’s worship, which will be open for those ages four through the fifth grade. “But there will be volunteers from all of the churches that want to participate. We’re trying to make it a little more family friendly.”