In an effort to reach out to the different racial segments of the area, a Southaven church wants to “start the conversation” of bringing unity and embracing diversity in a country that in many ways remains divided today.
SouthPoint Church, 2010 Stateline Road West in Southaven, is a viewing site for a live national simulcast from noted pastor and author Miles McPherson of San Diego, Calif. on Saturday, Sept. 15.
A Long Island, N.Y. native, McPherson played four seasons in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers from 1982-1985. A cocaine addiction during that time eventually led to his conversion to Christianity and his responding move into the ministry.
Today, McPherson leads the Rock Church, one of the fastest-growing churches in the country, and is pursuing an effort to bring racial unity to the nation.
Craig “O.C.” Howell, associate pastor at SouthPoint Church, said McPherson knows from where he speaks.
“Racially, I think Miles’ background is mixed with three-or-four different nationalities, just in his life alone,” Howell said. “Through his life, he’s been able to learn just ‘who am I?’ ‘I’m too light to be black, I’m too dark to be white. I’m not sure what exactly what I am.’ So, this started a conversation and the journey for his life.”
Today, McPherson has authored a book titled, “The Third Option: Hope For A Racially-Divided Nation,” set for a Sept. 11 release. During the simulcast, McPherson will highlights the points that he has discovered about how different ethnicities can come together.
It’s that attempt to bring unity to people and churches of the Mid-South area that resulted in SouthPoint hosting the simulcast.
“We noticed that as far as the whole Memphis metropolitan area, we have issues with the country being so racially divided,” said Howell. “We wanted to create something to get the conversation started to help fix that divide. As churches, we all do our own separate things. This is our opportunity to help bring unity into the church.”
The simulcast will start with worship at 11 a.m., followed by McPherson’s presentation after that. The activity will conclude at 1 p.m. Registration is through the SouthPoint website at SouthPoint.tv and free child care is being provided. Todd Hollis, Groups Pastor at SouthPoint Church expects the event will help churches start thinking about how to come together, regardless of background or makeup.
“I had a chance to hear him speak in April at a conference,” Hollis said. “He brought ‘light’ to the situation of just us being separate churches. We are one of the most diverse churches in the area and we are trying to reach out to other churches. A lot of us say we want this but don’t take any action toward this so the idea came up with the churches who come to the event to go out together and do something.”
Howell added SouthPoint wants the result of showing the simulcast to be more than just holding an event.
“The whole purpose of it is once we meet we can learn how to fix and bridge the gap,” Howell said. “Another part of it is that we’re going to get together as churches and do a community event together where we serve the community together as a unit. We don’t want this to be a one-time event that just happens. This is going to be a continual thing where we’re constantly working to fix the racial divide.”
Hollis said it is important for churches to think of racial unity as more than just a “Kumbaya” feel-good thing.
“For us for the church to step out is to show how Heaven looks like,” Hollis said. “It is one of those things where it is a time for action, it is a time for us to act and step out as a church and involve other racial communities,” with Howell adding, “We want to see a church where there is no racial divide, that there is a church for everybody. Here at SouthPoint, we do that now. We have everything across the board, but we want to help other churches do what we are doing.”
Bob Bakken is a Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.