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FROM THE STATES: Pastors prepare for Tulsa Race Massacre centennial; Kentucky church takes whack at COVID

Pastors prepare for Tulsa Race Massacre centennial

By Chris Forbes/Baptist Messenger

TULSA, Okla. (BP) – An interdenominational group of pastors and other ministry leaders gathered at a luncheon March 29 at First Baptist Church to engage in conversations about how their churches can participate in Unity Faith Day on Sunday, May 30, during the centennial weekend of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Approximately 100 Tulsa-area pastors gathered to hear how pastors can coalesce around the theme of racial reconciliation during the centennial weekend.

“On that Sunday, pastors are encouraged to lead their churches to pray for racial healing and commemorate the race massacre in their church’s worship services,” said Mark Dance, Oklahoma Baptists east central regional ministry partner who helped coordinate the luncheon.

“This idea was started by a community grassroots initiative from north Tulsa called ‘Faith Still Standing,’ highlighting the churches impacted by the horrific events of 1921,” Dance said. “Most still stand today as a testimony to the power of God and the resolve of these Black churches.“

Oklahoma Baptist churches interested in participating will be provided a worship guide from Dance that can be incorporated into worship services on May 30.

Donna Jackson and Stephen Wiley, who represent Faith Still Standing, also spoke at the event, encouraging pastors to join the Unity Faith Day to “celebrate and praise God for the resilience of the churches.”

Faith Still Standing will publish a commemorative book and provide other resources to be available to churches.

“There were 23 churches before the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre,” Wiley said, “and now there are 13 that survived, five of which are still located in Greenwood (the district where the massacre occurred).”

Dance welcomed the gathered pastors and ministry leaders, giving an overview of the program. Also participating in the program were, First Baptist Tulsa Pastor Deron Spoo, who led the group in prayer and invited them to experience the Tulsa Race Massacre Prayer Room, an exhibit the church is hosting until June 1.

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Kentucky church offers chance to take a whack at COVID

By Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (BP) – Did you ever want to take a whack at COVID-19?

Crossroads Baptist Church is providing a chance to do just that. Sunday night (April 18) from 6-8 p.m., the church is hosting a “Crush COVID for Missions” event where participants can take a swing with a sledgehammer at an already beat-up automobile for a donation the church’s short-term mission trips fund.

The automobile was donated and the church’s youth have painted it in some hideous colors to make it an easy target for those wanting to take a hearty swing.

Crossroads Pastor Rob Sumrall said the church typically does a big dessert auction as a missions fundraiser, but “COVID messed that up,” so this year they are taking out their coronavirus frustrations in the best way possible by letting participants take turns smashing the car with a sledgehammer.

“We are a church that tries to prioritize involvement in missions on many different levels,” he said. “We foster an attitude of missions through short-term mission trips. Obviously, that’s a pretty expensive endeavor. So this year for our mission fundraiser, we’re crushing COVID for missions.”

Sumrall said the event has “grown its own legs,” with the Elizabethtown, Ky., fire department and police department asking if they could participate. Since the church is fairly close to Fort Knox, a team will provide a military presence, too, the pastor said.

“Then we had guys come up from the church and said we needed an ‘Average Joe’s’ team,” Sumrall said. “We all want to get COVID out of our lives. Even more than that, we want to raise money for missions. It’s going to be a great time of fellowship and it’s going to be outdoors.”

Sumrall said his church is ready to come back and put COVID in the rearview mirror.

“We have a few folks with some health issues who are hypercautious, and that’s fine, we understand,” he said. “But a lot of people are asking, ‘When are we coming back to be together?’ I thought this was a really creative event to bring us together outdoors and in a fun way.”

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