Oxford Methodists to host civil rights discussion

By Galen Holley/Daily Journal

TUPELO – The history of race relations in Mississippi includes tragedy and hope, and United Methodists plan to acknowledge both with a day of prayer and conversation.
On Oct. 3 the University of Mississippi and nearby Oxford-University United Methodist Church will host times of reflection and dialogue.
Starting at 2 p.m. all are invited to gather at the Civil Rights Monument on the Ole Miss campus. A conversation will follow at 3 p.m. at the United Methodist church featuring James Meredith, the student who integrated the Ole Miss campus in 1962.
“We’re always aware of the shame of the past, and we’re proud when we can host opportunities that help us grow and redeem that past,” said the Rev. Claire Dobbs, associate pastor at Oxford-University United Methodist.
Leaders in the Mississippi United Methodist Conference have been visiting sites infamous in the state’s civil rights history, including Philadelphia, where three civil right workers were slain in 1964, and Hattiesburg, the home of murdered NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer.
“We can’t change the things that have happened, but we want people to be assured that God’s light is still alive,” said the Rev. Jimmy Barnes, superintendent of the Tupelo District of the United Methodist Church.
Ole Miss professor and Oxford-University member Dr. Charles Eagles will lead the 3 p.m. discussion. Eagles has written extensively on race relations in Mississippi.
“It’s important that we engage our past in order to live faithfully into the future,” said Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi United Methodist Conference.
The hope, said Morgan Ward, is that people will leave the discussion with “softened hearts, clearer vision and greater resolve to be the peacemakers that Christ calls us to be.”
galen.holley@journalinc.com