Organizers describe Unity Service as ‘splendid, very good, exciting’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 20, 2003

Planners for last Sunday’s Selma Community Unity Service, the latest in a series of mostly quarterly worship services, were highly pleased at the outcome.

According to the Rev. John Grayson, pastor of Gospel Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, whose church hosted the event, the service was &uot;very good,&uot; &uot;splendid,&uot; &uot;exciting&uot; &045; though the more than 250 attending amounted to a somewhat smaller crowd than had been expected.

Grayson noted that two churches that normally produce a large number of worshipers had conflicting events scheduled &045; unbeknownst to planners. On the other hand, Grayson said that the choir stall was full, the church was full and a number of young people were outside under a tent, enjoying refreshments while viewing the service on closed-circuit TV. He estimated that there were about 50 around the tent.

The age range was broad, according to Doug Coats, a member of First Church of the Nazarene who has been a principal planner of the series, from 1 to 85 years old, he said.

The 85-year-old, a woman, stood during the service and led the congregation in a song, he said.

Grayson said that the highlight of the evening was the music of the new unity choir, which was announced publicly in advance of the service. Directed by Missy Calvert of First Church of the Nazarene and Chinester Grayson, wife of the Gospel Tabernacle pastor, the turnout was far better than expected, and the quality of the music superb, according to Coats. Coats said he was especially moved by a concluding duet during Communion at the close of the service. The two singers were Calvert and Joslyn Reddick, director of the young adult choir at Brown Memorial A.M.E. Church, who had been instrumental in the organizing of the unity choir, along with Calvert.

Coats noted that several times there was spontaneous singing, initiated by one or more worshipers.

According to Grayson and Coats, there were 15 churches represented, 12 pastors of churches present who rose and were identified, and 25 first-time worshipers.

Grayson, along with other members of the leadership group, was deeply moved at seeing the large number of whites and blacks worshiping together &045; and receiving Communion. In fact, he was so moved that Coats said Grayson stood spontaneously to offer a witness regarding how deeply blessed he was by the service.

Grayson’s first attendance at the services was the previous one held at Brown Chapel in September. He was so enthusiastic about this new worship initiative that he invited the gathering to come to Gospel Tabernacle for the November gathering.

Coats offered his own view of the significance of the November service: &uot;This is what it’s all about &045; changing the lives and attitudes of people, enabling them to have a new view of our city. And that’s contagious.&uot;

Coats said that the next service will be held on a Sunday evening in January, with date, time and place to be decided and publicized.