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Rallying Round The Cross: Event celebrates spirit of unity

DAILY LEADER / RACHEL EIDE / Accepting Mission Mississippi's lighted cross Friday night on behalf of Lincoln County are Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop (at podium) and the Rev. Phillip Sterling (left). Also on hand was Connor Crosby (far right), from Loyd Star Attendance Center, who was leading the group of athletes taking the cross on the next stage of its journey.

DAILY LEADER / RACHEL EIDE / Accepting Mission Mississippi’s lighted cross Friday night on behalf of Lincoln County are Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop (at podium) and the Rev. Phillip Sterling (left). Also on hand was Connor Crosby (far right), from Loyd Star Attendance Center, who was leading the group of athletes taking the cross on the next stage of its journey.

The local celebration service for Mission Mississippi’s Glowing For Christ event brought scores of people to the cross Friday to show their faith in a spirit of unity.

Friday evening’s program, held on the steps of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Government Complex, allowed young and old, black and white, Catholic and Protestant to all come together for a single purpose.

Mission Mississippi is celebrating its 20th anniversary of promoting unity between the races by carrying a lighted cross through each of the state’s 82 counties.

Opening the local ceremonies, Mayor Joe Cox said, “This trip of the cross is short compared to the cross Christ carried. I pray that we serve God as brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Chancery clerk Tillman Bishop said, “I’ve been up and down these steps a thousand times, but I never though I’d be so blessed as I am tonight to be a part of this ceremony.”

Mission Mississippi teamed up with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to carry the glowing cross down highways and back-roads all around Mississippi. A celebration service is being held at each county seat where the public is invited to join in the ceremonial passing of the cross from one group of athletes to the next.

A mix of student athletes from the local schools volunteered to carry the cross into Lincoln County Friday and also to transfer it from the Government complex Saturday to Pike County, which will hold the next celebration program.

Speaking at Friday night’s program, FCA director for Southwest Mississippi Lester Walls said, “Our arms are extended to help Mission Mississippi. They reached out to us and we responded. They know that FCA is doing the same thing Mission Mississippi is doing – bridging race and religion.”

He added something he likes to say to those who don’t believe the races should worship together:

“Bump that junk! We should all be one for Christ.”

Walls said the spirit of athleticism is unifying, too, and being a strong Christian and a strong athlete extends into all aspects of life.

“It’s the same for FCA in sports,” he said. “Relationships – bridging that gap – happen in the sports arena, too, and we believe those attitudes extend into everyday life.”

Soloists Maxine Dillon and the Rev. Warren Coile delivered moving performances of “Amazing Grace” and “My Tribute” worthy of a national stage. And

it is on that figurative national stage that Mission Mississippi undoubtedly would like the world to see that there are many Mississippians who are not racist but who put Christ first and who believe in his unifying grace, that all are equal in the eyes of the Lord.

Friday night’s master of ceremonies Andrew Spiller encouraged people to join Mission Mississippi for this reason.

“Show the world how Mississippians can pray together and work together to change the image of race relations in our state.”

The Rev. Burnell Robinson quoted Galations 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Mission Mississippi’s Sheree Tynes of Jackson was on hand to tell the group about the state organization and urge those present who weren’t already involved in the local chapter to do so.

The Brookhaven chapter meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month. The next meeting is Aug. 27 at 5:15 p.m. in the Lincoln County Library.

Chancery Clerk Bishop and the Rev. Phillip Sterling accepted the cross on behalf of Lincoln County, and Loyd Star Attendance Center athlete Connor Crosby was present on behalf of the group of athletes taking it on the next leg of its journey.

Kathy Smith of Brookhaven volunteered during Friday’s ceremonies to help head up the group that will represent Lincoln County at the final celebration at 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Jackson.

For a schedule of the glowing cross visit www.missionmississippi.org, or call (601) 353-6477. The mission also has a Facebook page, facebook.com/mission.mississippi@MissionsMS.

To follow the FCA athletes in their ongoing journey of the glowing cross type in #MSGlowingforChrist.