Mission Miss. pulls in a diverse group

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A diverse crowd – black and white, clergy and laypeople, elected officials and private residents – gathered in Brookhaven Monday night and met to learn more about beginning a formal and ongoing program devoted to racial reconciliation and building relationships across racial lines.

The group heard a presentation from Neddie Winters, president of Mission Mississippi.

Steeped within a Christian message and outlook, Winters said the organization exists to challenge the body of Christ to demonstrate unity and is devoted to “Christian reconciliation and racial healing.”

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He called this kind of healing a way to demonstrate practical evidence of the Gospel message.

The notion of bringing Mission Mississippi to Brookhaven began as the vision of Phyllis Spearman.

“I’ve been interested in race relations for a long time,” Spearman said of her interest in bringing Mission Mississippi to Brookhaven.

If a Brookhaven chapter were established, Winters said it would be the 22nd such chapter in the state.

Within each community it’s a part of, Winters said the mission of reconciliation is carried out at the interpersonal level.

“We are relationship driven,” he said. “The issues we disagree about should be worked out in a relationship built on trust.”

It’s Christian outlook and focus on dialogue and relationships were the key features that attracted her to the organization, Spearman said.

The keys of a successful Mission Mississippi chapter include a grassroots prayer movement, a strong local board and authentic relationships, Winters said.

Tools with which to accomplish these things, including the kind of communication needed to foster authentic relationships, made up much of Winters’ talk.

Each Mission Mississippi chapter is driven by local leadership, he emphasized.

The organization was founded in 1993 in Jackson out of a vision for a citywide evangelistic crusade, explained Winters.

Later this year, the organization will be celebrating its 20th anniversary.

“We knew what we were facing would not be a sprint but a marathon,” he said.

Spearman was pleased the turnout Monday night – approximately 40 were in attendance. She’s already looking ahead, though.

“I hope this is the beginning,” she said.

The next step will be determining who’s interested in becoming involved and forming a steering committee, Spearman.

After that, meetings can begin.