Predominantly White Congregation and Historically African-American Fraternity In Virginia Unite In ‘Brotherhood of Men’

Richard Hicks of the 23rd Masonic District of Prince Hall greets Dewey and Barbara Rakes before the start of Sunday morning serve at Mead Memorial United Methodist Church. (Jill Nance)
Richard Hicks of the 23rd Masonic District of Prince Hall greets Dewey and Barbara Rakes before the start of Sunday morning serve at Mead Memorial United Methodist Church. (Jill Nance)

Smiles, greetings and handshakes were exchanged Sunday morning as a predominantly white congregation and a historically African-American fraternity mingled, embodying the service’s message that all are God’s children.

Mead Memorial United Methodist Church hosted the 23rd Masonic District of Virginia’s Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons as part of the fraternity’s Divine Sundays program. On every fifth Sunday of the month — which equates to about four times per year — the fraternity’s members worship at a different church in the Lynchburg area.

The Prince Hall Masons decided to attend Mead Memorial in Campbell County after the congregation learned about the day from their pastor, the Rev. Alex Duncan Jr., and extended the invitation. Duncan is the first African-American pastor for the church, which was established in 1963, and also is a member of the Prince Hall Masons.

“We are blessed that Mead Memorial opened up their warm arms to receive us today,” Duncan said from the pulpit in his Masonic dress.

Before the service, Duncan said both the Prince Hall Masons and Mead Memorial strive to advance racial harmony and promote equality and diversity among all people.

His message, based on a passage from Isaiah, focused on the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. He told the nearly 80 people gathered, including more than 30 Prince Hall Masons, that God loved his children and would answer their cries, regardless of race or creed.

“We’re trying to illustrate what it looks like in the kingdom of God,” Duncan said before Sunday’s service.

This is the first time the church hosted the Prince Hall Masons, although several members expressed a desire to host them again after the service.

“We just enjoyed having them, and we’d love to have them come back any time,” said Becky Grandey, a member of the church’s council and choir.

She said she enjoyed learning about the group, especially how highly the members regarded the Bible.

“I thought it was great,” Grandey said. “We had a full house and a diverse crowd. We all loved it.”

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SOURCE: NewsAdvance.com
Katrina Koerting

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