Inspired by the ACLC “Peace Starts with Me” conference in Korea in September 2017, Pastor Andrew Friar decided to establish a multi-cultural Christmas festival in his city. Rev. Friar and his wife, First Lady Kim Friar, are pastors of a predominantly black church in Duluth, Georgia. While in Korea, they were delighted to see ACLC pastors working together beyond race and denomination to strengthen marriages and families, and to promote peace and understanding. The couple was also surprised to learn how little time was required to put the “Peace Starts with Me” program together.
Based on their experience in Korea, they decided to hold a program on Dec. 21, 2017, that would encourage interracial harmony and understanding in their hometown. Pastor Friar was confident that a Duluth program would be a success, even with only a couple of months to prepare for the event. He introduced the concept to pastors from a predominantly white church, a predominantly Hispanic church, and a Korean church. The pastor of the white church commented that his congregation, one of the largest in Duluth, had for years wanted to put on a Christmas festival, and he agreed right away to help with the event.
Pastor Friar also approached local businesses and raised money for their event. That way, the churches were not asked to contribute any funds toward the event. The Duluth Festival Center and Amphitheater in the heart of Duluth was rented for the program. Each church provided entertainment, including bands, dancers, a drum corps, and singers. The event culminated with a mass choir with members from each of the churches. The event, billed as the First Annual “We Celebrate Christmas” Multi-cultural Festival, was a tremendous success.
The pastor of the predominantly white church was surprised by how quickly Pastor Andrew put together the program. He commented, “I guess it doesn’t take three years to prepare an event.”
During the monthly ACLC Prayer Breakfast in Atlanta, Pastor Andrew shared his experience of meeting, and organizing pastors from different denominations.
A second speaker at the December ACLC Prayer Breakfast was Dr. Brien Martin. He is the Senior Pastor at the historic Sardis Missionary Baptist Church in Kennesaw. In Kennesaw, there is a predominantly white church on North Main Street and Dr. Martin’s predominantly black church on South Main Street.
The Kennesaw First Baptist Church was founded shortly after the Civil War. It was a church for whites only, while Sardis was a church for “coloreds”. Desiring to bridge the racial gap, Dr. Martin met with Dr. Perry Fowler, the Pastor of the Kennesaw First Baptist Church. Dr. Fowler told Dr. Martin that his congregation had wanted to do something with a black church for several years. So, they held a combined worship service on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, November 19, 2017. Both congregations loved it, and Dr. Martin and Dr. Fowler continue to meet regularly and the two churches are holding a combined Christmas Eve service on Sunday, December 24, 2017.
These two presentations were both very encouraging. It is instructive to note that both the white pastor in Duluth and white pastor in Kennesaw were excited to meet the black pastors, because they had been wanting to do something. It was the leadership of the black pastors that made the events in the two cities to take place.
On November 29, 2017, Dr. Michael Jenkins, the National Co-Chairman of the ACLC spoke at the November ACLC Prayer Breakfast in Atlanta. He asked the help of the Atlanta team to “… to Redeem the Soul of the Nation”. The Atlanta ACLC is taking substantial steps to make that a reality.
Submitted by Rev. Tom Cutts, ACLC-Georgia