| Program: || Mission Mississippi, Jackson, Miss |
| Contact(s): || Dr. Dolphus Weary, Executive Director: (601) 353-6477 |
| Purpose: || To encourage and actively express unity across racial and denominational lines improving relations in the Christian community and throughout all of Mississippi |
In 1993, over 100 church pastors and civic leaders gathered to discuss how racial issues were negatively affecting the Christian community and the general population of Mississippi. The group, representing black and white churches from almost every denomination, met to create a statewide effort to bring about racial reconciliation. Mission Mississippi was created as a result of these meetings. By the end of the year, a "Reconciliation Rally" was held at the Mississippi Memorial Stadium in Jackson with over 24,000 people in attendance. For the past six years, Mission Mississippi has worked to bring about racial unity throughout the state.
The 1993 rally was not the culmination of a vision, but the beginning of a movement. Mission Mississippi provides opportunities for racial reconciliation by sponsoring several different events and activities such as weekly prayer breakfasts, an annual reconciliation picnic, discussion forums on racial issues, "pulpit swaps," pastor retreats and year-end rallies of reconciliation. Mission Mississippi also promotes awareness of its goals by taking the message of racial reconciliation to churches and other groups across the state that may have traditionally dismissed the topic.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
The "Reconciliation Rally" is a big annual event, well attended by a wide diversity of people, and favorably covered by local media. In 1993 the rally drew 24,000 participants over three nights, and in 1994 through 1997, an average of 13,000 attended the two night rallies. Each Thursday morning, a different church hosts a prayer breakfast as a demonstration of its commitment to bring together the Christian community in all parts of Jackson. More than 100 churches have hosted a Thursday morning prayer breakfast over the past three years. The goal of Mission Mississippi is to replicate its success in the state capital, and throughout all parts of the state. Hundreds of people have attended other Mission Mississippi events. Each month, a group of black and white businessmen gather downtown for breakfast. A monthly evening prayer rally has rotated among churches. Mission Mississippi has sponsored a forum for discussion called "Issues in Black and White." An annual pulpit swap encourages white churches and black churches to swap preachers for a Sunday morning. A number of local restaurants give discounts to white and black couples dining together on "Two and Two Together Night." A monthly pastors' luncheon encourages pastors to broaden the scope of those they call friends and professional colleagues. A mass reconciliation picnic in downtown Jackson has become an annual event, with more than 1500 people attending each year. Also, through a relationship developed through Mission Mississippi, a white church and a black church teamed up to put on the best-ever Vacation Bible School for hundreds of neighborhood children. Black and white churches are making concerted efforts to bridge racial gaps and overcome racial tension. Thousands of people in churches, businesses and schools across Mississippi are being exposed to the message of racial reconciliation for the first time. Mission Mississippi believes reconciliation has occurred when two people who might have otherwise avoided each other find themselves spending time together without any agenda.