Praying for Unity, Progress

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Bright and early Friday morning, business, civic and church leaders in Meridian gathered to pray together and promote Christian family values, racial unity and peace in our community.

"We have a lot to be proud of here in Mississippi," said Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James Graves. "We have come a long way in the area of race relations and racial reconciliation, but that there is much work left to be done."

"We didn't get where we are over a short period of time, and we're not going to change it over a short period of time," said Dr. Dolphus Weary, president of Mission Mississippi. "We need to work on it intentionally on a regular intentional basis."

This is the third year for the Mayor's Leadership Prayer Breakfast. Organizers say they hope it creates another opportunity for conversation and change.

"It begins with the heart and ends with the heart," said Dr. Roger Parrott, president of Belhaven College. "That's where it will really have to come. We've done the easy work of changing the structures and the laws. Those kinds of things had to be done, but they were the easy steps, but the real hard steps begin with the heart."

Attendees were advised to ask themselves this question: "How do I develop one relationship with someone who's racially different than I am?"

"Once you get to know me and I get to know you, then that becomes a community-wide effort," said the Rev. Neddie Winters, executive director of Mission Mississippi.

Rev. Jennelle Miller lives it. She was presented the Reconciliation Award, in honor of her husband, the Rev. Charles Miller, who died in a workplace shooting at Lockheed Martin in Marion, Miss., in July 2003.

"If we can come together as God's people, it's going to do wonders for our city and for our world," Miller said.

Mission Mississippi and Mission Meridian say they are committed to changing Mississippi and Meridian, one relationship at a time.