I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. –1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
Old walls are crumbling and new bonds being forged as the churches of central Mississippi unite in preparation for next month’s evangelistic Celebration with Will Graham.
Celebration Director Bob Hickling has seen the new-found solidarity with his own eyes, after spending the better part of a year canvassing the Clinton, Miss., area for churches that are passionate about reaching their community with the Gospel.
Recently, his travels took him to Yazoo City, 40 miles north of Clinton, where he witnessed a sight that still caused him to well up with emotion weeks later.
Two ministerial alliances—one biracial and interdenominational, the other African American and Missionary Baptist—met together for the first time.
“It was a really amazing meeting, because you couldn’t tell there were two groups there,” Hickling said.
The pastors who met together represented about 40 area churches, all ready to collaborate for the March 28-30 Central Mississippi Celebration.
“I’ve said since I first came to town that Clinton has shown the most involvement and excitement early on that I’ve ever seen,” Hickling said.
While the event will be held at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton, it’s truly an outreach aimed at the entire region.
Clinton is located just 10 miles from Jackson, Miss., the state’s capital and largest city. Churches within a 50-mile radius have expressed interest in reaching their friends and neighbors with the hope of Christ.
“We have Yazoo City that is absolutely on fire,” Hickling said. “We’ve got a pastor up there, Ken Lynch of the Parkview Church of God, and he has rallied that county like no other.”
“I have pastored in Yazoo County for 17 years,” Lynch said, “and I have never seen this kind of unity of purpose in any community endeavor. But, as we are seeing, Jesus’ Great Commission, as encouraged by The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is serving as the catalyst for this.
“We are grateful and excited to see the sense of community this is bringing to Yazoo County.”
Churches in Warren County and Hinds County are also training counselors for the three-night event, which will feature a diverse lineup of music from The Afters, Matthew West, Canton Jones, Paul Baloche, Tedashi and the Rhett Walker Band.
There will also be a children’s program Saturday morning featuring an original script by the BGEA with characters from The Greatest Journey.
“We want this for the whole community,” said Will Graham, who will be preaching the Gospel at the Celebration. “This is not geared towards one denomination. It’s not geared towards one race or one language. Everybody is more than welcome, and we want them to feel welcome when they come.”
He said there’s still time for churches to get involved. Hickling agreed, saying he’d still like to see even more diversity at the event.
However, he is strongly encouraged by what’s happening in Yazoo City and beyond. Christians are coming together, regardless of race or denomination, and being the Church—an unstoppable force when unified under the power of Christ.