Macon Magazine

February/March 2019

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4 0 | M A C O N M A G A Z I N E F E B R U A R Y / M A R C H 2 0 1 9 shared hope for the future is we engage in the hard parts collectively and within our own congregations. I certainly encourage that." Dunaway said that even with a religious approach, there is no glossing over of difficult issues. "Everybody in Macon knows we have a painful racial history," he said. "ey know there are many divisions along racial lines because of it. We have to face these tough realities, not gloss over them, so we can heal and move past them together." e Rev. Jason McClendon, pastor of Community Church of God, said he became involved with Building the Beloved Community after moving to Macon and seeing problems caused by a deep racial divide. He said participants aren't shy about addressing hard problems in the multi-racial setting. "And we don't leave it there," he said. "We explore solutions. It gives a needed place for voices from all segments of the community to be heard and allows a narrative meaningful enough to make things happen." Long-time Macon pastor the Rev. Clifford Little of Greens Tabernacle Baptist Church is a Beloved Community committee member. He said he's seen results. "It's played a part in bringing people together, people of different races, churches and experiences," he said. "We hear a unifying message but still acknowledge be Macon's two First Baptist churches." Dunaway said First Baptist Church of Macon and First Baptist Church of Christ, led respectively by the Revs. James Goolsby Jr. and Scott Dickison, have been active supporters of Building the Beloved Community and other reconciliation efforts. Especially poignant, he said, because prior to a Civil War-era split, the two congregations were one. "ey've done so many things," Dunaway said. "ey've participated in Paired Clergy, had congregational fellowship dinners and worship services, collaborated on community service projects such as tutoring programs – even shared Easter services and Easter egg hunts for children. Of course, we can't take credit for what anyone does. It's something God is doing in many ways." Dickison, pastor of the predominantly white First Baptist Church of Christ on High Place, said the relationship with First Baptist Church on New Street has been "nothing short of transformational." "James and I started talking," he said. "We acknowledged our shared history and realized each congregation had carried wounds from it. Maybe we carried them in different ways, but they were there. Building the Beloved Community's model of bringing pastors together inspired us to reach out and to realize we're not alone in this work." While Dickison said the congregations celebrate the new relationship, they recognize the work of reconciliation is difficult. "is is hard work when approached with integrity," he said. "It's complicated taking racial histories seriously and giving full appreciation to the dynamics, injustice and even atrocities involved. It requires being willing to meet them with confession, repentance and forgiveness. We need to celebrate shared potlucks, but our "We need to celebrate shared potlucks, but our shared hope for the future is we engage in the hard parts collectively and within our own congregations." -Scott Dickison The Rev. Clifford Little, John Dunaway, the Rev. Jason McClendon and Matt Harper view a framed poster from 2018's "Elegy for Martin Luther King," a Building the Beloved Community presentation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Grand Opera House featuring readings of Senegalese poet- statesman Leopold Sedar Senghor.

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