Breakfast unites hundreds in prayer
TELLING A STORY Lee Paris, left, and Dr. Dolphus Weary, speakers at the Mayor's Leadership Prayer Breakfast on Friday, use the parable of the Good Samaritan to start a discussion about racial reconciliation among Christians. The breakfast was sponsored by Mission Meridian. The group, part of Mission Mississippi, is trying to bring unity among Christians in Mississippi regardless of racial and denominational groups. PHOTO BY CARISA MCCAIN / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Ida Brown / religion editor
April 5, 2003
In many ways, Friday's Mayor's Leadership Prayer Breakfast was reminiscent of Jesus' feeding the multitude with five loaves and two fishes.
Those who gathered ate and were filled, but not only by the meal. They were also fulfilled by the words of two men: Lee Paris and Dr. Dolphus Weary. Paris and Weary are chairman of the board and executive director of Mission Mississippi, a racial reconciliation movement that encourages unity in the body of Christ across racial and denominational lines.
About 300 Christian men and women of different racial and denominational backgrounds gathered in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church for the 6:45 a.m. breakfast.
And while the mayor's breakfast was the first of a planned annual event, the meeting was not about the city's leader.
Paris and Weary began their presentations by re-enacting a conversation that took place in Israel 2,000 years ago between two Jewish men, an expert in the law and a young rabbi.
The law man, Paris, asked the rabbi, Weary, what he must do to be saved, to which the rabbi replied, "What does the law say and how does it read?"
The law man answered, "The law says I must love the Lord with all my mind and my strength and my soul and my heart. And I should love my neighbor as my self."
Noting that his answer was correct, the rabbi told the law man if he followed these principles, he would live.
Still curious, the law man asked, "Who is my neighbor?" The rabbi answered with the story of the Good Samaritan, who helped a man beaten by thieves and left by the side of the road. A priest and Levite passed the man, but the Samaritan had compassion and helped him.
Both Paris and Weary discussed their different backgrounds.
Paris is from an established family from the Mississippi Delta, an Ole Miss law school graduate and at one time served as chairman of the Rebel Flag Fund.
Weary was reared in a poor Mississippi community and, having worked in the cotton fields vowed to leave Mississippi and never return to avoid the problems of racism, poverty and injustice.
The two men of different races and backgrounds were brought together through Mission Mississippi.
The Mayor's Leadership Prayer Breakfast is one of a number of events working to achieve this goal locally. PowerHour, The Women's Prayer Ministry and the Lauderdale County Jail's Prison Ministry are also dedicated to community togetherness.