Start tricentennial with unity, praise
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 30, 2015
“Oh God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
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And our eternal home.”
This remarkable Tricentennial year opens officially with a community-wide, nondenominational service on Saturday, Jan. 2 at 10 a.m. at the Natchez Civic Auditorium, 207 Jefferson Street. Unity, Prayer and Praise provides the opportunity to join our hearts, souls and voices to thank God for the many blessings bestowed on Natchez, and to invoke God’s blessings for the future. Planned and produced by the dedicated volunteers on the Tricentennial Faith and Religion Committee, it gives residents and visitors alike the opportunity to come together as a community in reverence and thanksgiving. Psalm readings, prayers for Natchez and worshipful songs will fill the City Auditorium.
I moved to Natchez 10 years ago from Los Angeles. From the moment I arrived, I was overwhelmed by the sense of great peace that permeates this special place. Walking downtown, I was amazed that strangers smiled and waved. Standing on the bluff, overlooking the majestic Mississippi River, I was moved by the great beauty and serenity of the scene. “Oh beautiful God, how grateful I am that You led me to this special place,” I thought.
So when I first heard about the Natchez Tricentennial, and the plans for many celebrations, it seemed appropriate to begin with expressing gratitude to God for blessing, protecting and guiding Natchez during these past three centuries. When I saw Jennifer Ogden Combs, Executive Director of the Tricentennial Committee in a local restaurant, I mentioned this to her and she replied, “great idea….now go do it”. For the philosophy of tricentennial is community involvement and citizen participation. She didn’t accept my excuses that I am a newcomer to Natchez and not qualified to plan and put on this event. After fervent prayers, I was fortunate to meet and work with dedicated and talented people who agreed to join what quickly became the Tricentennial Faith and Religion Committee: Carolyn Ridley, Hedy Boelte, Rajesh Behara, and Vincent Green. Also providing valuable assistance for music is Alvin Shelby, who will lead participants in song and conduct the Holy Family Youth Choir. Kelin Hendricks has served as the liaison to the Tricentennial Executive Committee. We spent many months discussing and planning what would bring this community of diverse races, religions and cultural backgrounds together in unity. A concert of religious song, along with readings from appropriate psalms and time for silent prayers is the result.
Adams County Supervisor David Carter will serve as the event facilitator. Participants include Combs, who will offer a special prayer for Natchez, David Goldblatt, who will sing “Mi Shibeirach,” and Acquanetta Miller who will sing “The Lord’s Prayer.” Other participants are Tony Fields and Becky Stephens, David Troutman, Darren Brent, Alexis Yates, Derek Burt, the Wagoner Brothers, Melvin White and Alvin Shelby. In addition. The Holy Family Youth choir will conclude the morning. We are grateful for their help in creating this special event. Also thanks to the pastors and staff of ChristLife the River for their support and production help.
Doors open at 9:30 a.m. for an event that has been almost a year in planning. What happened during this time is an indication of what it’s possible to achieve. This committee consists of people of different races, religions and backgrounds. Yet, we learned to appreciate our unity, admire our abilities, and ignore our differences. Our fervent hope is that this takes place on a community level. Whatever your religious affiliation, or if you don’t belong to a specific faith, please join us on Jan. 2.
Additionally, we ask that places of worship continue this theme and offer prayers for Natchez during their regularly scheduled services this weekend.
Karen Dardick is chair of the Tricentennial Faith and Religion Committee.