By Jeff Amy/The Associated Press
JACKSON — Gov. Phil Bryant said he plans to continue activity with a Christian group promoting racial reconciliation.
Mission Mississippi honored Bryant Friday, hosting the Governor’s Prayer Luncheon at the Jackson Convention Center.
Neddie Winters, president of Mission Mississippi, said that Bryant, a white Republican, and Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, a black Democrat, set a strong example in the governor’s race in 2011 by avoiding racial appeals.
“I think you and Johnny DuPree did something across the state that I think out national leaders need to take note of,” Winters said. “There were two Christian men running for office that didn’t allow the politics of the moment to dictate what was coming out of their mouths.”
Bryant said he and DuPree agreed to avoid attacks on each other in part because they both have been active in Mission Mississippi.
Mission Mississippi hosts twice-a-week prayer breakfasts at different sites in and around Jackson, as well as weekly or monthly gatherings in other cities and towns around the state. Bryant said he has hosted the group’s morning prayer meetings when he was auditor and lieutenant governor.
“I hope once repairs are complete, we’ll be able to have some of these breakfasts at the (Governor’s) Mansion,” Bryant said. He and his wife Deborah have yet to move into the downtown Jackson structure because of repair work.
Bryant, a Methodist, said the group’s effort to build deeper relationships between the races was important to solving the state’s other problems as well.
“If we continue to have lunch and to smile at each other across the table and don’t talk about it, things will never get solved,” Bryant said.
The new governor said he still hoped to tour the state with DuPree to promote racial understanding.
As the governor and his wife stood on the podium with eyes closed and hands joined, the group offered prayers for his administration.
“The answers that we need, drug stores don’t sell them, liquor stores don’t bottle them, dope pushers don’t push them, even my university doesn’t have them,” prayed Christopher Brown II, president of Alcorn State University. “We need godly answers.”