Multicultural worship service aims to bring King’s dream to life

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL — During the benediction at the Warren-Page NAACP's Martin Luther King event Jan. 16, the Rev. Ed Dawkins of the Front Royal Presbyterian Church noted that 11 a.m. on Sunday is the most segregated time.

Nearly a month later, his church is trying to do something about that, having invited members of the areaís predominantly black churches to attend its 11 a.m. Sunday worship service.

Dawkins hopes this "multicultural" worship service will make a reality of King's dream that "one day white and black hands would join together to work together, to pray together, to struggle together."

"And may I add worship together, eat and drink together, laugh and play together," Dawkins said in an email.

One segment of the service will feature co-chairwoman of the Shenandoah Valley branch of Coming to the Table Dr. Judith James. A descendent of slaves, James co-founded the branch with Will Hairston, a descendent of slave owners.

Coming to the Table aims to open dialogue between races to forge more desegregated environments, James said. Churches are segregated by choice, cultural influences and lack of dialogue.

During the service, Dawkins will interview James and ask questions such as: What do you wish white people would know about you and your race?

"It takes generations for people to heal, but you really have to have something that is intentional to facilitate the healing," James said. "When someone has a serious wound, they can go to the hospital and get it treated. But the wounds of racism have not been treated."

Hurt people hurt others, and it takes those who have been healed to help, James said. Many blacks have been hurt by racism and they pass it to their children, she said.

"There's another saying, that 'pain that is not transformed is transferred,'" James said. "Many whites who remain racist haven't transformed that thinking, so they transfer that thinking on to their children."

Untreated wounds may contribute to young blacks attacking police due to feelings of being targeted based on color, James said.

A lot of white people are comfortable in all-white environments, and a lot of black people are comfortable in all-black environments, James said. There has to be more opportunities for whites and blacks to get to know each other, with events such as Sunday's worship service.

It is important to have similar events year-round, not just during Black History Month, James said.

Although James has made the decision to judge others on content of character rant than skin color, not everyone has come to that decision, she said.

"You have to be intentional about taking the next step," James said.

Also featured at the joint worship service will be the Rev. Bessie Taylor Jett, the Rev. Harold Brown and the Rev. James Kilby.

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