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Portsmouth reverends speak about racial disparities, how to merge differences
At a talk on “merging differences” held at New Mount Olivet Baptist Church on Tuesday, local ministers discussed the need to accept different voices and work together.
The Rev. Kelvin Turner of Zion Baptist Church in Portsmouth called for “playing fair” and acknowledging that racial disparity was a problem for everyone, not just for black people. The Rev. Melvin Marriner said everyone’s identities and voices have to be recognized before there will be unity.
“You can’t say, ‘I want to merge this city into a better place,’ while trying to silence my voice, even if it is different than your voice,” said Marriner, a pastor at Grove Church and president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Steering Committee, a political action committee.
Perhaps Portsmouth is a microcosm of what is happening across the nation, Marriner said. People are “disenchanted with politicians” and the political process, he said. Therefore, people who are a part of the “system” need to do a better job, get people excited to vote and explain the rhetoric expressed throughout the country that “belittles leadership when color” is different.
“When we hear language like – ‘We want our country back,’ or ‘We want our city back’ – for those of you who don’t understand when we hear that, as the people of color, it rings our bell – ‘We want to go back to put us in our place.’ That’s what we hear.”
He said this didn’t happen when George W. Bush was president, referring to a change in rhetoric when President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, was elected.
Members of the 250-plus audience applauded at this remark.
State Sen. Louise Lucas, Del. Matthew James, Mayor Kenny Wright and Councilman Mark Whitaker were some of many public officials in the 250-plus audience Tuesday.
Turner spoke about how he had seen black men held against the wall by police in Portsmouth, Suffolk and Norfolk. “But I have yet to see a white person” held against a wall, he said. “And I am trying to figure out, why is that?”
He said police and fire departments should be more reflective of the communities they serve.
Turner expressed frustration with the media and a perceived overemphasis on when black council members vote together. He mentioned the council’s selection of Elizabeth Psimas as vice mayor. The Virginian-Pilot didn’t emphasize that white council members voted for her, he said – Mayor Kenny Wright also voted for her.
“So all I am saying is they vote in a pack; don’t just blame four amigos,” Turner said.
Residents who speak at City Council meetings frequently have referred to the four black councilmen, who have voted together on several budget issues, as the “four amigos.”
“Let’s play fair,” Turner said.
G. Daniel Jones – Seasoned Pastor, Professor, President of the Black Caucus of American Baptist Churches USA Dies
VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/28/15)—The Rev. Dr. G. Daniel Jones, 74, Pastor Emeritus of Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, Pennsylvania, where he served for 31 years, and Interim Pastor of Zion Baptist Church, Pennsylvania, died at his home on Wednesday, May 27, exactly seven months after the death of his beloved wife, Geraldine.
American Baptist Churches USA mourns his loss and celebrates his life and faithful witness. “Beloved is the word that comes to mind whenever Dr. Jones’ name is mentioned,” said Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches. “His leadership skills allowed him to be equally at home with people of widely diverse backgrounds and interests. We mourn his passing but rejoice in his presence in the fullness of Christ’s presence.”
Rev. Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins, III, executive director of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies said of Dr. Jones, “Dr. G. Daniel Jones was an extraordinary pastor, gifted preacher and dedicated servant leader. Our hearts are particularly heavy as he leaves to mourn an only son and grandchild and two grieving congregations, who absolutely cherished him. His thirty-one year relationship with Grace and his recent interim pastorate with Zion were both matches made in heaven. In the pulpit, G. Daniel Jones pushed his listeners to think. In the parking lot and hallways he was one of the most personable and amusing pastors I know. Everyone who knew him has a favorite G. Daniel story. You cannot think about him without smiling. The American Baptist Churches have lost a true treasure.”