Students, professors, businessmen and women, elected leaders, pastors, church leaders along with others from all walks of life came together to discuss “Engaging the Current Generation to Change and Empowering the Next Generation for Change.” The Governor’s Leadership Prayer Luncheon and Summit took place on Thursday, April 6, at the Jackson Convention Complex.
At the morning summit, Cordelia Fancher, a sophomore at Jackson State University, gave the invocation. The attendees heard from the panel, Robin Robinson, director of organization development and corporate communication at Sanderson Farms Inc.; Cathy Northington, senior vice president and chief administrative officer director of programs and diversity at the Mississippi Economic Council; Ashley Rea, communication manager at Sanderson Farms Inc.; and Will Caves, communications and public relations manager at the Mississippi Economic Council. The panelists were asked what they could do to be more engaged to improve race relations. After the panelists spoke, the attendees participated in round table discussions on the topic “Twelve initiatives within the next twelve months to further engage in improving race relations in Mississippi.”
“I had the enjoyment, with my son Audwin Winters, to moderate the panel discussion at both the summit and luncheon. Throughout each aspect of the event, we wanted to present a picture of one generation to the next. Our attendees had the opportunity to make a list of 12 things to do in 12 months. Our desire was to see relationships form and then to see actions taken to better Mississippi. It’s a beautiful sight to behold, Mississippians young and old, black and white listening to one another and learning from each other,” stated Neddie Winters, president of Mission Mississippi.
During the luncheon, David Gates, president of Atmos Energy Mississippi Division welcomed the attendees. Johnny Donaldson, president of Bank Plus Jackson gave the invocation. Gov. Phil Bryant recapped his first encounter with the ministry of Mission Mississippi, and was noticeably moved as he quoted the chorus of the hymn “Victory in Jesus.” Prayer for the governor and Mississippi’s elected leaders was given by La’Verne Edney, shareholder with Baker Donelson, and her son, Norris “EJ” Edney III. Prayer for law enforcement and the communities they serve was given by Doug Wilson, CEO of Wilson Auto Group and his son, John Wilson. Prayer for our educational communities was given by Marilyn Tinnin, editor and publisher of Mississippi Christian Living Magazine and Joy Gordon.
Our luncheon panelists shared how, within their families, they are engaging the current generation and empowering the next generation. They also encouraged participation in Mission Mississippi and the importance of working together. The luncheon panelists were Robert Gibbs, partner, Gibbs Travis, PLLC; his daughter, Ariana Gibbs, associate attorney, Gibbs Travis, PLLC; Dr. Ed Holliday, DMD and his daughter Peyton Holliday, student and blogger.
Although this is only the third year that Mission Mississippi has hosted this event, the organization has been praying for our elected leadership for many years with similar events. Around the state, discussion groups and prayer gatherings occur on a monthly basis. The vision of Mission Mississippi is to see Christians living out the grace of the Gospel unhindered by racism, racial strife, racial prejudice, racial hatred, and racial division throughout Mississippi and the world. The mission is to encourage and demonstrate grace in the Body of Christ across racial lines, so that communities throughout Mississippi can see practical evidence of the Gospel message. For almost 25 years, Mission Mississippi has been bringing the Christian community together across racial lines to build relationships and create a more unified Mississippi.
Lee Paris is a Northsider.