Forum for unity, positive solutions for community set for Monday night

Published 1:19 am Sunday, October 29, 2017


NATCHEZ — New Hope The Vision Center church will host a community forum featuring representatives from public and private schools in Adams County, city officials and county law enforcement leaders.

The purpose is to promote unity in Adams County, the church’s pastor Bishop Stanley Searcy Sr. said.

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“We’re coming for a dialogue about solutions,” Searcy said. “We’ve already heard all the problems. This will not be arguing; it will be positive.”

The forum will be held at 6 p.m. in New Hope The Vision Center at 418 Morgantown Road in Natchez and is open to the public.

Searcy, who will mediate the event, said he has received positive feedback from everyone he has invited so far.

“Everyone’s said ‘What a great idea this is,’” Searcy said. “I think everybody is ready to come together.”

Searcy said Mayor Darryl Grennell, members of the county board of supervisors and city board of aldermen, Natchez-Adams School District Superintendent Fred Butcher and Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald have agreed to attend, as well as headmasters of the local private schools and members of the NASD school board, District Attorney Ronnie Harper and many other leaders in the community.

“We’re asking all groups that are interested in solving problems in our community to come,” Searcy said. “Monday will be a time we will come together as a family to better our community.”

Panelists and attendees, Searcy said, will talk about every major problem in the city, from combatting crime in the city to fostering education for Natchez’s youth.

Though this is a lot of material to cover, Searcy said he hopes to keep the conversation moving by only permitting positive ideas.

A television screen on the wall will flash yellow when conversations need to be redirected to the topic and red when Searcy feels the speakers should stop the forum for a moment and breathe.

Searcy said he had the idea for the forum while praying one day.

“I pray every day at noon,” Searcy said.  “I felt an inward voice saying, ‘What are you going to do for your community? Why don’t you bring everybody together?’”

A forum such as this, Searcy said, gets all parties into one room and allows them to talk out the community’s issues in a neutral setting.

“We’ve heard it said that we have a divided community,” he said. “We have a great community. This is an opportunity for us to come together as a family and talk. And that’s what we’re going to do.”

Despite his high hopes for the forum, Searcy said he understands that not every problem can be solved in one meeting.

“I’m not naïve, thinking this will be a fix-all for the community,” Searcy said. “But it will be a beginning.”