Preachers go to prayer for community

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 26, 2007

Every community wants to see positive change, and in CopiahCounty, there are a few men with a direct line to the top who arewilling to pull strings … with God.

It all started with the idea that communities can grow and theycan die, and if anyone can influence them for good, it’s God. Soseveral area pastors have joined forces to pray for the county oncea week.

The first meeting, held in early February at the Heritage Housein Hazlehurst, was the meeting of four minds: Mike Ganucheau, ofthe First Presbyterian Church; Martin Washington, of AntiochBaptist Church; and the Rev. Sammie Jones and Andy Wade, of KingdomBuilders Christian Association. The four were brought together bythe prompting of Dr. Janet Schriver, of the Heritage House, withthe idea that for Copiah County to grow, it would have to be acommunity effort spearheaded by the churches.

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“As we’ve been working on so many betterment projects throughHeritage House, it has become more and more clear that the only wayto do this is with God’s leading, and what better way than to putHis men on it full time?” said Schriver.

Though the first meeting was just the four pastors, three blackand one white, it has grown to include many of the community’smajor denominations. Washington’s church, Antioch Baptist, has 700members.

“It’s about crossing these lines that society has laid out inthe past,” said Ganucheau. “These are our kids we’re praying for. Ican’t imagine anything more important.”

Among the church leaders, there’s almost a sense of wonder athow well the group is taking off. At first they only wanted to meetonce a month, and now they’re meeting every week.

“It’s absolutely encouraging to see a table full of black andwhite ministers talking about issues that effect all of ourchurches,” said Ganucheau. “And I was kind of surprised it took offso well, though now I realize I shouldn’t be, since the Lord isinvolved.”

The unspoken agreement that the pastors in the group have cometo is not to see in color. Though the efforts have been madethrough the years to unite the races in worship, this is the firsttime the pastors have gotten together to present a united front tonot only the community, but the Lord. And the vision is to pray forthe future of the county: the kids.

“To me there is value in this ministry, if it wasn’t a ministryI wouldn’t be here,” said Ganucheau. “And part of it’s becauseJanet’s vision here at Heritage House is the kids. That’s wherethis all started, and it makes perfect sense that we focus on themas our future.”

The group says there is a crucial need to reach today’s childrenbecause society seems to point them in all the wrong direction, andas they kept saying, “these are our kids.”

“I’ve met kids who tell me they want to be drug dealers whenthey grow up,” said Jones. “Because the drug dealers have the’bling.’ That is a desperate situation.”

The pastors meet once a week to discuss current events andprayer requests, and at the last meeting on Monday 12 people werein attendance, and pastors expect the growth to continue.Meanwhile, they continue to support each other and each other’schurches.

“I don’t know what you go through at your church, and I don’tknow the stresses and strains of the black community,” Ganucheausaid to the other three at the first meeting. “I don’t know whatkeeps you awake at night, and I don’t know what anxieties you have,and you don’t know what mine are. But we can uphold each other, andthat is the reason I want to be involved.”

The other thing the men do for each other is keep each othergrounded and focused, and remind each other of the call withintheir community.

“Tommy Wheeler, of Clover Valley Missionary Baptist Church, saidat the last meeting that we need to focus on preaching and teachingabout overcoming the human obstacles that stand in the way ofprogress like this,” said Ganucheau. “That’s what we ought to bedoing is applying the scriptures to speak of Christian unity. Wehave access to a congregation every week and we should be doingthat all the time.”

And Schriver, whose interest in putting the kids of thecommunity in the right hands brought these men together in thefirst place, is thankful for the organization that provides neededprayer for the community she’s found herself serving one child at atime.

“It’s a God thing,” she said, smiling.

Church leaders interested in the group and its meetings areencouraged to call Ganucheau at First Presbyterian Church at (601)894-1409.