Unity in Our Community
Be careful when you exit Interstate 65 and go north on Interstate 85. Look to the left. You will see a new billboard with a picture of five ministers, “Building Unity in Our Community,” and a website, 181years.com. I85 begins as you leave I65 and ends 668 miles later in North Virginia. This is the first billboard posted on I85!
The picture shows the five of us—white and black—who have been and will continue working to bring Unity in our Community. Part of our effort to do that involves recording some podcasts. We have six of them where we discussed different aspects of unity. We are planning more.
A Godly lady, Judy Kyser, listened to the podcasts and said that everybody driving on I85 ought to know about this. She made all the arrangements and provided the financial foundation. My initial reservation was that the picture might scare people!
The ministers there are Ken Austin, Claude McRoberts, Jay Wolfe, Kyle Searcy, and me. The website is listed as 181 years because the five of us have done ministry in Montgomery for a combined 181 years. With that kind of investment in the community, we felt like we had the right and the responsibility to speak to our community about unity.
We will have to change our website next year to 186years.com because we all will have another year of ministry invested in Montgomery. Pray that unity in our community will increase exponentially this year!
This started about three years ago when there were several instances of violence which created reactions across the country. We witnessed destruction of property and lives. On the first day as violence was occurring, the five of us called each other and said we needed to have a press conference and speak to Montgomery. This is the place where the Civil Rights Movement started. We need to be more intentional about incorporating the spirit exemplified by Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in bringing unity and not destruction.
It was amazing how many people watched that news conference and the number of people who volunteered to join in the effort. We met with the Mayor, the Sheriff, the Police Chief, the Governor, and other leaders. We all committed to work together and ask God to bring unity in Montgomery!
We invited about 50 ministers of all races. We were able to meet several times in a training room adjacent to my office. We prayed and planned to work together. God has brought a new level of acceptance and encouragement to all of us as we have sought to join hands and work together.
Existing organizations like One Montgomery, John 17, and other organizations have been working both independently and collectively. People of all races share that they are experiencing a growing unity in our community.
We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go! Every person can contribute. We need to pray, to organize, and to act. The five of us whose pictures are on that billboard invite you to ask God how you can do your part. Let’s make a difference!
Don’t let the picture of the five of us distract you. Drive carefully and arrive safely at the good destination of Unity in our Community!
God and you and I can do it!