Just a few weeks ago, I attended a heartening gathering of pastors from across Winston-Salem. We were called together amidst all our churches’ diversity of theology, ideology, race, gender, economics, and age by Chuck Spong (Executive Director of Love Out Loud Winston-Salem), Dr. Peter Barnes (Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church), and Bishop Sir Walter Mack (Senior Pastor, Union Baptist Church). The purpose of the gathering was to let us know about an upcoming initiative intended to open wide some shared space in our community for real, honest conversation about race. For as we discussed together, no matter the shape and convictions of our individual churches, we all are beckoned by the God who created us equally beloved to confront the sin of racism, to realize the various privileges granted to those of us who are white, to work tirelessly for racial reconciliation and justice, and to imagine doing so first with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I was so encouraged to see the gathering of pastors, knowing that the churches we all represent span the spectrum of commitments in our city. And now, I’m sharing that encouragement with you, First Baptist, extending this invitation to our beloved community to join in this critical conversation.

At the center of this initiative is a showing of Union: A Musical, a staged production about the sanitation workers strike in Memphis in 1968 and assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Co-written by Sho Baraka, an African-American artist, and Gregory Thompson, a white minister with family roots in the KKK, Union will be shown live at the Stevens Center and live-streamed at First Presbyterian Church on Friday, February 8, at 8:00 pm. As one of many participating congregations, First Baptist has only a handful of tickets for the live show, but room remains for the live-stream overflow and artist ‘talk back’ with the performers after the show at First Presbyterian.

Then on Saturday, February 9, we will gather again for a diverse, community-wide conversation of plenary sessions, workshops, and dialogue that calls us all to understanding and action, held at Union Baptist Church that morning from 9:00 am – 12:30 pm. You can register at the link below!

Both of these events are sponsored by The Forum on Faith and Culture, and you can learn more about them at http://www.faithandculturewsnc.org/Forum19. Our tickets for the stage show are first-come, first-serve! Contact Amy Cook in the office (336-722-2558) if you’d like one. To sign up for the overflow live-stream at First Presbyterian, simply go to the link above and register. Folks from First Baptist will be present at all the weekend’s events; hope that you are one of them!

I am praying about how the Spirit will stir within our community to draw us all closer to the heart of God through these gatherings. Will you join me?

Together in the work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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