A local group aimed at racial reconciliation is planning two events, a month apart, in the hopes of achieving its goal.
The Rev. Tim Smith, a founding member of The Pledge Group, said the organization is planning a unity walk on Sunday, June 28 at 3 p.m.
“The circumstances we are presently facing only exacerbate the need for racial reconciliation,” he said. “We are working with local church groups on this walk.”
The event will begin at Unity Park and proceed down St. Louis Street to Bienville Square, Smith said. Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste and Public Safety Director James Barber are expected to participate in the walk, he said.
The group is hosting its third-annual “Shrink the Divide” event at 6 p.m. on July 28, Smith said. The event will be both in-person and virtual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The event features three speakers with special connections to the Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, S.C., in 2015, Smith said. Topics for the event will include repentance and forgiveness, he said.
“We believe the massacre in the Charleston community resulting in the death of nine churchmembers conveyed a strong message for the need for spiritual and racial reconciliation,” he said. “The message of forgiveness is a resounding one that speaks to the peace of Christ in the face of tragedy.”
The Rev. Anthony Thompson, who is slated to be one of the speakers at the July event, lost his wife in the shooting, Smith said. She was at the Bible study when Dylann Roof opened fire on the congregants of the church. At a bond hearing for Roof, Thompson said he and his family forgave the shooter, Smith said.
The Rev. Marshall Blalock, pastor of the oldest Southern Baptist church in Charleston, is also scheduled to speak.
Chris Singleton, who is also scheduled to speak at the event, lost his mother in the shooting.
“These men have experienced this tragedy as personally as anyone could experience it,” Smith said. “It’s a painful story.”
The July event will be livestreamed at three local churches: Redemption Church in Saraland, Mount Hebron in Prichard and Harvest Church on the Interstate 65 service road in Mobile.
Streaming details will be provided at a later date on the Shrink the Divide website, shrinkthedivide.com.
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