TUPELO – Dr. Jay Dey spoke with bright confidence and a warm, generous smile as he delivered the keynote address at the annual community Thanksgiving service Monday.
Dey, a Hindu and native of India, spoke to about 300 people gathered in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church.
The small, dark-skinned man peered out over the podium wearing a purple pagadi, a traditional Indian headdress most Westerners would call a turban.
“Being American is a matter of mind and heart. It never was a matter of race and ancestry,” said Dey, expressing his gratitude over recently becoming an American citizen.
Now in its third decade, the service was organized this year by Mission Mississippi, a group committed to building relationships between black and white Christians. The crowd reflected that commitment.
“Moses named his son Gershom, which means ‘foreigner,’” said Bob Schwartz, a member of Jewish Temple B’Nai Israel, speaking as the sun flooded into the vanilla-colored sanctuary. The patriarch gave that name, Schwartz said, because years earlier he had survived by the loving kindness of strangers.
The strong, emotive chords of “America the Beautiful” brought everyone to their feet, and they stayed there, reciting a litany of thanks for God’s blessings and for a community that embraces people of all faiths.
“There’s one God and lord of all,” said Jancie Scales, a member of Rising Star Baptist Church in Tupelo, one of several Christian churches represented.
“In God there is no east or west, north or south.”
Contact Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal