I was very moved Sept. 27 when I attended a joint church service for unity offered by three Augusta churches and Paine College. This service was not a quick reaction to the recent problems in Charlotte, N.C., but had been planned for several months by Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Mt. Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, Trinity Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and Paine College.
Pastors and church members alike have become concerned that we are becoming more divisive as a people and less inclusive. The pastors wanted to ask for God’s help in uniting our country.
What impressed me most was that no one was calling on some government agency to unite us. We all understand that we must do that ourselves.
If we want peace, we must be peaceful. If we want love, we must act in a loving manner. If we seek justice, we must be just. If we want respect, we must be respectful. We should look for the best in each other and not the worst.
The fate of our republic doesn’t depend on who we send to Washington, D.C., Atlanta or the municipal building, but on how we treat one another – you and I.
If you respect your neighbors – all your neighbors – you will get respect.
This church service of prayer and music was not about finding fault or laying blame, but on seeking common ground. We are all God’s children. He created all of us. We all want a great life, and He wants us to take care of each other.
We have much more in common than we have differences. But thank goodness for those differences. If we were all the same, this would be a pretty boring place. This country has been strong for more than two centuries because of those differences, and because we realize that we are stronger as a united people.
The violent incidents around the country started me thinking about why Augusta hasn’t suffered similar problems. I think it could be because we have been working on uniting this community for so long.
I have only lived here for 29 years, but in that time I have seen so many efforts at working together to make this a better place. Surely you remember Augustans Together, community prayer breakfasts started by Deke Copenhaver when he was mayor, communitywide Martin Luther King services, and many other events that brought us all together.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Those efforts, large and small, continue every day, all across Augusta and the surrounding areas. We all have prejudices of one kind or another, but we can get beyond them and find common ground.
I urge everyone to attend future events like these, and work every day at treating others the way you want to be treated.
(The writer is the former executive editor of The Augusta Chronicle.)